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Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Single Hound by May Sarton

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Title: The Single Hound
Author: May Sarton
Copyright: 1938 (reprint 1991)
Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-0393307856
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This first novel, published in 1938, shows the importance that poetry plays in the life and writing of a young Sarton. This story is brimming full of poetic imagery and turns of phrase.

The story centers around the friendship of three elderly teachers, the "Little Owls": Doro, the teacher and poet; Annette, who likes to be in charge; and finally Claire, the beauty. In one phrase that describes the characters interactions within their combined lives perfectly, Sarton writes, "the truth is that they had adapted themselves to each other so completely that when one was absent it was just like a trio without a violin. Nothing quite came off." The story also revolves the meeting of two poets, Mark Taylor, and the poet he turns to for help when his life starts to unravel, Jean Latour.

Largely autobiographical, Sarton describes her own writing habits through the writing habits of Doro. I'm sure that each of the "Little Owls" is in some way inspired by Sarton herself. The writing can become very dense at times, and a little flowery in the use of poetical phrases, but it is her first novel, and such techniques diminish as she becomes more sure of herself as a novelist in her later years. You can definitely see the spark here that will grow as she develops as a writer.

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