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A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 (1979)

por Joan W. Blos

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3,107284,348 (3.53)51
The journal of a 14-year-old girl, kept the last year she lived on the family farm, records daily events in her small New Hampshire town, her father's remarriage, and the death of her best friend.
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The journal of a 14-year-old girl, kept the last year she lived on the family farm, records daily events in her small New Hampshire town, her father's remarriage, and the death of her best friend.
  PlumfieldCH | Sep 22, 2023 |
A Gathering of Days won the Newbery Medal in 1980 and I think it was worthy of the award. I absolutely loved this historical fiction book, including the method used to convey the story through journal entries. The fictional journal details the experiences and thoughts of thirteen year old Catherine Hall, between 1830 and 1832. Though the pacing is slow, the writing is richly layered, with interesting historical facts integrated into the entries.

I couldn't understand some of the low ratings and lackluster reviews on Goodreads. I listened to this solely on audio through Hoopla Digital but out of curiosity downloaded the Kindle sample to view the text. After trying to read it without the assistance of any audio, I think I can understand the frustrations of other readers with this book. It was written in a way to closely imitate the speech and writing patterns of the early 1800s, but the phrasing is much different than our modern speech.

Here is an example:

Friday, October 22, 1830 : We had a visitor today but nearly failed to admit him. No callers, surely, were expected. And peddlars, tinkers, and the like will not come by till Spring. Thus we ignored the rattling latch—at times the wind will mislead us so—until a voice called out. It proved to be our Uncle Jack and tho’ he protested he was just passing by, I thought he meant to visit. He brought some store sweets, wrapped in paper, and consented to have some cyder.

This would best be enjoyed concurrently reading the text and listening to the audio. If only one option is possible, I'd recommend listening to the audio. [a:Madeleine Potter|3991242|Madeleine Potter|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] does an excellent job narrating, allowing the reader to grow accustomed to the cadence and the intended meaning of the odd phrasing.

This story reminded me of the [b:Little House on the Prairie|77767|Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #3)|Laura Ingalls Wilder|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1559209202l/77767._SX50_.jpg|2884161] series, but A Gathering of Days is much more sophisticated. I suspect some middle grade readers won't have enough patience for this story, either due to the writing style or the slow pacing. I really enjoyed the book though I'm viewing it through the lens of a more mature perspective.

My rating: 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
Original year of publication: 1979 ( )
  Ann_R | Aug 7, 2023 |
Catherine’s 14th year, growing up on a New England farm, is certainly an eventful one. There’s the stranger in the woods, her widowed father’s unexpected romance, both comedy and tragedy, and then an unexpected opportunity.

The author makes the unusual decision to spoil all of the events of the book in the preface (a letter to the diarist’s great-granddaughter), but the story retains its pathos for all that. Readers who enjoy historical books like Caddie Woodlawn and Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm are the ideal audience here. ( )
  foggidawn | Jan 3, 2023 |
A 13-year-old girl grows up in New Hampshire in the 1830's.
  BLTSbraille | Sep 22, 2021 |
Signed by the author ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
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To my namesake, Catherine:

I give you this book on your fourteenth birthday, as I turned fourteen the year of the journal; the year that was also my last on the farm tho' I did not know it then.
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It was an apt choice ... for are we not, all of us, wand’rers and strangers; and do we not, all of us, travel in danger or voyage uncharted seas?
...now does the present re-pay the past and flow on towards the future.
This year, more than others, has been a lengthy gathering of days wherein we lived, we loved, were moved; learned how to accept.
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The journal of a 14-year-old girl, kept the last year she lived on the family farm, records daily events in her small New Hampshire town, her father's remarriage, and the death of her best friend.

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