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Between the Flowers

A Novel

Harriette Simpson Arnow

Publication Year: 2012

Between the Flowers is Harriette Simpson Arnow's second novel. Written in the late 1930s, but unpublished until 1997, this early work shows the development of social and cultural themes that would continue in Arnow's later work: the appeal of wandering and of modern life, the countervailing desire to stay within a traditional community, and the difficulties of communication between men and women in such a community.
    Between the Flowers goes far beyond categories of "local color," literary regionalism, or the agrarian novel, to the heart of human relationships in a modernized world. Arnow, who went on to write Hunter's Horn (1949) and The Dollmaker (1952)—her two most famous works—has continually been overlooked by critics as a regional writer. Ironically, it is her stinging realism that is seen as evidence of her realism, evidence that she is of the Cumberland—an area somehow more "regional" than others.
    Beginning with an edition of critical essays on her work in 1991 and a complete original edition of Hunter's Horn in 1997, the Michigan State University Press is pleased to continue its effort to make available the timeless insight of Arnow's work with the posthumous publication of Between the Flowers.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v

I would like to acknowledge the support granted me by the Office of Research of the University of Michigan-Flint, the assistance of the Special Collections and Archives of the University of Kentucky's King Library, and the hospitality of the University of Kentucky's Gaines Center for...

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pp. vii-x

Harriette Simpson Arnow received acclaim for her five novels and four histories published from the 1930s through the 1970s, but one worthy novel written early in her career she abandoned to a drawer. Between the Flowers was written after successful publication of...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-14

MRS. CROUCH stood on the porch under the weatherbeaten sign, Costello's Valley, Ky. U.S. Post Office, and looked up the steep stretch of narrow hill road where August heat waves trembled above the sheep-skull rocks and uneven chunks of blue-white limestone. The sun glare...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 15-32

THE CART bounced at a smart pace up the rough hill roads while Mrs. Crouch clutched at the seat with one hand and fanned herself with a hymn book in the other. Now and then she glanced at her flowers, and often at Marsh, but each time found him straight mouthed and hard eyed. He...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 33-48

THE FIRST week of September came. Marsh as he hauled nitroglycerin to the wells in the high back hills found signs of fall in the blood red leaves of black gum bush, and a few slender fingers of flowering goldenrod. The hazelnuts were ripening, and he would sometimes hear the falling...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 49-62

THAT YEAR more than one in the Little South Fork Country marveled at the beauty of the fall. The early frosts were light and the days clear and still, roofed by high bottomless skies, cloudless and intensely blue. Sometimes with only Tilly for company Delph went on long hunts down...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 63-72

THE COLD snap that Juber said had come only to ripen the corn was past. It was November, a time of leafless trees and languid yellow light falling lazily onto the hills that lay as if asleep under a faint blue veil of smoke. The sun seemed slyly dying day by day, the flaming dawns of early...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 73-90

JUDE'S FEET rang loud and hollow on the frozen road, and Marsh as he topped the hill saw the post office, wished he had not hurried so. John would most likely be there instead of home. At least he would have to stop and see; for it was Thursday afternoon, and he had finished his last well. He...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 91-108

TUESDAY, THE day that Marsh had set for the runaway, dawned gray and cold under low skies. A biting wind shrieked across the pasture, made a moaning by the house corners, and now and then flung scattering showers of fine ice-like snow. Mid morning found Delph...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 109-118

THE WEST wind shifted more south than north, so that by morning there was damp heavy snow, and by noon time rain. The rain continued, a warm rain that made Dorie's fields of rye green as April, and in the damp air the tobacco was soft and springy to the touch, fine for stripping. Marsh...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 119-133

DORIE REFLECTIVELY scratched her head with a knitting needle, and stared at her stockinged feet propped on a stick of wood in the bake oven, while she considered the problem at hand. She turned and looked over her shoulder at Katy who sat by the kitchen table. "I don't think you'd better...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 134-143

MARSH DID not cry as Katy cried, or turn to stone like Delph; he cursed sometimes; cursed Dorie's mules with clenched teeth in low toned oil man's curses. The mules flipped their ears and rolled their eyes, but never tried to run away from him as they sometimes did with Angus. One...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 144-152

ONE AFTERNOON in mid January Katy slipped away from school at afternoon recess, and ran to the bottom of Depot Street in Burdine. There, she saw and flagged a strange truck, but one with a Fincastle County license that would most likely go by Fairchild Place. "It's Friday," she...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 153-164

IT WAS Sunday again, afternoon, and Marsh rowed Delph over the Cumberland to their new home, ready now. Delph had been gay and full of talk as they ran down the river hill, with her eyes laughing like the eyes of a woman going to a dance, but now in the boat she was silent with Caesar in her lap...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 165-179

DURING THE wildest days of February when snow whirled on sharp biting winds, Marsh's blue jumper could be seen moving over the barren upland fields, bowed many times under great burdens; stones or loads of cedar brush, or the grass sacks filled with earth that he...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 180-193

THE ROBIN'S eggs hatched and grew into birds that lived and learned to fly. Marsh saw them at their lessons a time or so, and then forgot them as he forgot many things in the hard press of work that came with summer...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 194-204

MARSH AWOKE to the misty in-between-time of neither night nor day. He lay a moment and heard fog drip from the eaves, and felt the morning air, cool through the window, and heavy with the smell of plowed earth. He remembered, and lifted suddenly on one elbow and...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 205-219

MARSH WIPED his face and neck with a soggy blue bandanna, and once more turned from his work of gathering melons to look at the southwest where the sky no longer lay white and shimmering, but was gray and cool to the eyes. He thought it had darkened a little in the...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 220-241

IT WAS four o'clock on a black January morning, intensely cold and still. Marsh crunched over the frozen path to the barnyard, and wished as he had wished many times through the winter that he had not told Roan he would trap with him on the Big Rockcastle. The barn door latch stuck to his...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 242-259

NEXT MORNING it was raining again, a slow cold drizzle that sheathed the fence wires in ice, and beaded the twigs of the trees. Marsh as he walked across his upland pastures from Higginbottom's where he had spent the bit of night that was left after coming away from Delph, felt rather...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 260-274

MARCH CAME with mighty trumpeting winds, a great blowsy, strong-armed woman who scoured the earth with rain and wind and sun. The sycamore limbs grew gray again, and on the hill pasture the grass and unfolding clover leaves were green and lush and tender. Clouds raced...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 275-291

THE DAYS passed and the lug leaves of the tobacco showed signs of ripening and the flyings gleamed yellow white above the field. Marsh's corn was laid by, the hay crop in, and except for the tobacco the hardest part of his summer's work was done; and from the look of things...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 292-311

THE WINTER that year was cold and snowy with a skim of ice on the river and frost on the window panes, a time of long gray twilights and slow dawns. Marsh was busy as always, cutting firewood, mending fence, getting out stone and building an enormous cellar for Delph, and...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 312-330

SOMETIMES AT Lewis's store or on the courthouse steps or in the little saloon at the end of Maple Street just around the corner from the Baptist Church, men would pay Marsh Gregory the highest compliment they ever paid to a stranger; one they never gave to Mr. Elliot or the strange preachers...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 331-346

THE MEMORY of Christmas Eve at school and the song he sang was for a time sharp in Burr-Head's mind, painted in clear bright colors like the pictures of God and Moses on the cards he received at Salem Sunday School. Then the picture was gone, crowded out and smothered away by the...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 347-362

MARSH LEANED on a briar hook and struggled with his foolish mind. He liked clean fence rows, but a wild rose in June was a pretty thing and smelled almost as good as fresh red clover hay. Still, he frowned at the wild rose, flaunting its pale pink petals against the gray limestone of...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 363-377

"THE CORN is laid by. The winter wheat is cut. The trees in our orchards promise heaviest yield in years. Cedar Stump School opened last week with Ezrie Cutler back as teacher. Canning and pickling are the order of the day...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 378-397

SOMETIMES WHEN Marsh lay in a seeming stupor, Delph would be conscious of his searching eyes as she went away. Often, when the nurse was resting and Dorie or Emma tended him, she would bring him a young ear of corn or a bough of half ripened apples or a cluster of tobacco...

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Chapter 27

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pp. 398-409

THE FALL that year was a farmer's fall. October brought high-skied, windless days when the valley lay filled with yellow dusty light that seemed less air and sunshine than some special manifestation of that particular fall. For Marsh each day was something more than hours of a...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 410-426

BURR-HEAD awakened him, bright eyed and eager for the trip to Hawthorne Town. Marsh quieted him with a sh-shsh- ing for he knew that Delph would never awaken so early; the morning was still more black than blue. But Burr-Head bounced and jiggled on the bed, until...

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173807
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870137594

Page Count: 426
Publication Year: 2012

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