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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Highly Recommended

The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod - Henry Beston, Robert Finch

This review was originally posted on amazon on April 6, 2005.


I'm going to begin with a quote from the book:

"Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame. To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life. Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth's and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and dawn seen over the ocean from the beach."

In August, 1924, the author, Henry Beston went to his small beach house on Cape Cod intending to stay for two weeks. He ended up staying the year, and this book is what resulted from the editing down of his notes, written out longhand at his table.


I can compare this book best to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. More than a book, it is a combination memoir, meditation and natural history of Cape Cod. The book is loosely arranged in a chronological fashion, and at various times, Mr. Beston meditates upon sea birds and shore birds, the formation of the waves at Cape Cod, shipwrecks and the coastguard, and the qualities of the sand. It is a deeply spiritual book, although not overtly religious. Mr. Beston's primary religion appears to be that of the earth and living lightly upon it, and allowing oneself to accept the rhythm of it.