Dead or Alive: Sarah Orne Jewett in South Berwick, Maine


Exploring writerly lives through literary pilgrimage    

–By Robin McCarthy 


SOJ house, front

I return home to Maine in August for one of the last weeks before the semester begins back in Michigan, before the berries go by and the snow starts to fall and the miles between where I grew up and where I live become more difficult to cross. On the day we leave Maine, there are things to acquire; pint of berries from the field, whoopie pies and Italian sandwiches in the manner only a Maine gas station can make them, glass growlers to fill with favored small-batch IPAs.

With these things packed into the Honda Civic that has now looped it’s way between the nation’s coasts for over 260,000 miles, my boyfriend and I drive west across the interior of the state and then South on the interstate. Leaving Maine is my least favorite activity, although I’m too old for homesickness like this, and I know my absences are largely temporary. And so I am happy to stop for a while in South Berwick, just on the Maine side of the New Hampshire state line, to parallel park in front of Sarah Orne Jewett’s childhood home, to eat the first of the squirreled-away sub sandwiches on the bench outside. Continue reading