The writing was so familiar when I started reading this that I had to search for Louise Dickinson Rich on the site to see if I’d already read this one. Luckily I wasn’t repeating books, but I had read We Took to the Woods last November, which was her first book (1942). This one was a 1950 examination of her friends and neighbors, great character studies brimming with woodsy wisdom like eating a slice of pie backwards so you’re sure to always eat the crust.
My favorite characters, quelle surprise, are the solitary ones like Cliff, who diatribes, “I eat when I get hungry. And s’posin’ I’d get hung up some place—wound a deer, say, and have to track it all day—and didn’t get home when they expected me. They’d be a-worryin’ and a-frettin’ and a-gettin’ out a posse after me. One thing I can’t abide, it’s knowin’ someone’s home stewin’ about me. Takes all the pleasure out of life.” Rienza’s another character, an old maid who never married because she took care of her sick father until he died and then her aunt got ill and later she managed the home for her uncle. By the time he died off, she’d inherited a nice farm and some money and was in her 50s. She looked around and had a few men court her but realized they’d be old soon and she was done taking care of old men. “I’m self-supporting and self-respecting, and beholden to no one. Any time, day or night, I can do just exactly what I feel like doing. I look over all the married women I know, and pretty soon I stop feeling sorry for myself and start thanking my lucky stars that a sense of duty prevented me from getting married.”