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The Bent Twig

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Book Overview: 

Semi-autobiographical series of incidents in the life of an intellectual American family in the late 19th - early 20th Century as seen by favored daughter, Sylvia Marshall. Her father is an economics professor in a Midwestern state university and she is following in his inquisitive footsteps. Canfield writes this in a matter-of-fact manner with Tarkingtonesque good humor.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Sylvia. "I guess you all got pretty excited about this, didn't you?" he said, smiling wisely at the child. "You and your sister sit down and look at the pictures in this for a while, till you get cooled off, and then I'll hear all about it."

Sylvia took the book obediently, and drew Judith to a chair, opening the pages, brushing away her tears, and trying to go through the form of looking at the illustrations, which were of the birds native to the region. In spite of her emotion, the large, brightly colored pictures did force their way through her eye to her brain, instinct in every fiber with the modern habit of taking in impressions from the printed page; and for years afterwards she could have told the names of the birds they saw during that long, still half-hour, broken by no sound but the tap-tap-tap of Mr. Bristol's typewriter. He did not once look towards them. This was partly a matter of policy, and partly because he was trying desperately to. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A peculiar reading experience, as the intellectual ideas Canfield explores here are quite dated. Canfield was interested in Montessori and socialism. The entire book is focused on the heroine's struggles in choosing between a life of amoral beauty or simplicity and comradeship. Guess which she choos

I really, really enjoyed this book. It follows a child named Sylvia Marshall and her family as she grows up. She is faced many times with the decision to follow they way she was raised in humble, loving, hard-working surroundings or follow the more wealthy and leisurly alternatives that become avail

This book was a constant reminder not to judge a book or a film by present-day cultures and standards. Written in 1915 and set in a small state college town in Vermont, it explored many different aspects of a young woman's growth to adulthood. It has much to say about class structure and social issu

"Who am I, an obscure, poverty-stricken music-teacher out of the West, to fancy that I have but to choose between two such men, two such fortunes?"

You may be obscure, poverty-stricken, et al, but you're also the drippy lead character in an underwhelming romantic novel. Rather frustratingly, you are

“An American Edwardian Soap Opera in Slow Motion””

What comes to mind when you hear the term, the “bent twig?” Does it suggest a small branch whose normal direction has been accidentally thwarted or deliberately redirected in its growth? Now add the concept that this “twig” is actually a young, imp

It's rare to find a book that tells the entire life story of a single character rather than just alluding to her past. I thought it would be dull, but it gave me such an understanding of Sylvia and her family that I understood every decision and every mistake she made. And when the end of the book c

I'm halfway through this wonderful novel, my first by this author, and thought I'd see what other readers had written about it on goodreads. Surprisingly to me, one mentioned its Montessori and socialist underpinnings...certainly it's a more modern (I hesitate to use that word, though) view of life,

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