The first sentence was arresting to me: "Three crows flew low over the fresh mound in the Linden burying-ground, dark as the thoughts of the three unmourning mourners." I had no idea what this book was about at all, but after that first sentence, I was hooked. The story has some dialog, just enough to carry the characters along, and most of the sentences are written in the simple noun-verb-direct object form, yet the form does not make a simple story. The descriptions are some of the best -- "Then a wind keened far off in the west, nosed across the hills and leaped into the clearing, snapping its fangs at the limbs of the oak trees." If I marked every description that evoked a I-need-to-remember-this-one response, I would be recopying half of the book.
This is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' final book. In fact, she died just months after it was published in 1953 after she struggled with it for a decade.
I came to this title through a mention of it by Pat Conroy in his My Reading Life where he notes a plethora of book titles. In his chapter about Norm Berg, a publisher representative who befriended and advised the young author Conroy, he writes that Norm had violently disapproved with Rawling's book The Sojourner. Since Conroy read many of the books Berg mentioned to him, I thought it was likely he read this Rawlings book, and my goal is to read, or attempt to, as many of the books Conroy references.
"Living close to the land as she was growing up 'planted deep in [her] a love of the soil, the crops, the seasons and a sense of kinship with men and women everywhere who live close to the soil.'" This quote from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society is why Rawlings could write The Sojourner with such understanding and description. Every day I worked outside digging in the dirt during my time with this book and saw the new spring growth, the clouds, the rain, the trees, and the birds, I found a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders of the world.
Although I am in the age of moving books on to others after I read them, this is one that will remain on my shelves. Maybe it is my seasoned age that tightens my grip around this story, but I think you may find this a surprisingly edifying read and one that will linger in your thoughts.