The Idyll of Twin Fires

July 27, 2012

I suspect that the right reader would adore Walter Pritchard Eaton’s Idyll of Twin Fires, which is nothing like as ridiculous as the title makes it sound. I’m not the right reader, so I don’t know for sure, but I thing he or she would be pretty into gardening and possibly also farming, and probably wouldn’t find the first person narrator deeply unlikeable.

Again, that’s not me. But even so, I basically liked it. Sure, the protagonist, a young instructor at Harvard who quits his job and buys a farm, is pretty irritating. Sure, the romance takes over the plot of the book for a while and then steps back, leaving weird pacing in its wake. But there’s also this lovely thing where nothing particularly bad happens. In fact, not much happens at all. I mean, people plant seeds and paint walls and things. And plants grow. But there’s no disasters or drama or anything, nor is the book super boring.

So, yeah. Not really for me, but not bad at all.



  1. I think I’ll like this. Your description reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge books: I always expect something bad is going to happen but it doesn’t, and the books are just a delight to read. So I’m hoping for something similar with this.

    • Elizabeth Goudge is an author whose name always seems to be coming up in positive contexts. Is there one of her books in particular I should read?

      • My favorite has always been Linnets & Valerians, which is a children’s book. I also really like her Eliot trilogy, which starts with The Bird in the Tree.

  2. Plants grow, eh? That does sound exciting…

  3. I had to look up my notes on this one. I liked it, but then I love books with an absence of drama and descriptions of the landscape. :) My notes were as follows: “Just read The Idyl of Twin Fires. It’s like a vacation between two covers. It’s the story of a college instructor with a modest amount of savings who gets spring fever, buys a run-down New England farm, and proceeds to transorm it, even as it transforms him. He also meets a lovely young woman (who happens, most awesomely, to be a PhD in philology!) who shares his passions in life.”

    • “A vacation between two covers” is a lovely description, and a pretty accurate one. Also I loved so much that Stella is a PhD.

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