All posts tagged: luscious novel

Is Solitude Really What You Want?

Is Solitude Really What You Want?

One summer evening, in the mid-19th century, Henry David Thoreau threw a party—a melon party, to be precise, a long-standing tradition of his earthy, garden-loving family. His table, I imagine, looked like a New England take on a Dutch still life: According to a neighbor’s diary, he laid out “sunflowers, cornstalks, beet leaves & squash blossoms … forty-six melons, fifteen different kinds; apples, all the production of his garden.” But chatter at the party wasn’t limited to Thoreau’s prodigious green thumb. His mother, Cynthia, had previously been spreading around town that her son found parties loathsome, even contemptible—he was, after all, a man who enjoyed his peace. But now, after the large gathering, she felt she had to apologize for the mild slander. It turns out that Thoreau, a godfather of the myth of American individualism, was misunderstood even by his own mother: He wasn’t the solitary grump that the world made him out to be. In Followed by the Lark, a luscious novel from Helen Humphreys, Thoreau doesn’t throw any parties, but he does …