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The Friendly Persuasion Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Review

PRAISE FOR JESSAMYN WEST AND THE FRIENDLY PERSUASION
"You will laugh out loud and cry . . . A testament . . . to that faith in humankind that has made the American dream."-The Philadelphia Inquirer

"West writes gracefully, occasionally poetically, in a voice both innocent and brave."-The Washington Post

About the Author

Jessamyn West (1902-1984) was born in Indiana to Quaker parents and lived most of her life in California. Her work has appeared in Harper's, Mademoiselle, Kenyon Review, the New Yorker, and Redbook, among others. Her other books include The State of Stony Lonesome, Massacre at Fall Creek, and The Collected Stories of Jessamyn West.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015602909X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156029094
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This was not my kind of book to read.
Amazon Customer
One of the few well thought out depictions of happy family life in fiction.
Maybe
Rich, deftly written, beautiful, heartbreakingly lovely.
Lucinda

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on March 18, 2001
Format: Perfect Paperback
This is a perfectly delightful collection of stories about a family of Quakers, the Birdwells, in Civil War-era Indiana. For the most part, they center around the ongoing but largely unspoken battle between the somewhat free-spirited husband, Jess, who likes singing and horse racing and the like, and his more serious wife, Eliza. The themes dealt with are mostly minor, though the difficulty of remaining pacifist in the midst of war is treated, and, of course, became the core issue in the excellent Gary Cooper film version of the book.
The real value of the book lies in its implicit rebuke to one of the central conceits of the modern age, that simply because rather restrictive religious beliefs were central to peoples' lives in that earlier America, their existences must necessarily have been dour and joyless. This prejudice is silly on its face, contrary as it is to everything we know about human nature, and Jessamyn West's stories, with their devout, but playful, Quaker characters, are a terrific antidote. Though the Birdwells' lives are proscribed by rules and social conventions which may strike us as odd, they are also filled with joy and love and a sense of community, both the physical and the spiritual community, which any one of us would envy.
GRADE : B+
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 1998
Format: Perfect Paperback
Friendly Persuasion is a group of short stories following an Indianan Quaker couple and their family through their adult lives. Jess, the father is a nurseryman and Eliza, his wife, a Quaker clergy. Jess keeps life lively with comeuppances and an attraction to new conveniences such as gas lighting and running water in the home. The opening story "Music on the Muscatuck" was particularly funny. Well written vignettes with clear characterization. Published in 1940 and still in print. An old-fashioned, "classic" sleeper.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By laraf123 on May 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Beautiful and elegant short stories which transported me to another time and place. A well-loved favorite on my bookshelf.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Barrett on June 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have loved West's books since childhood, and rereading this book is still a joy. Jess, Eliza, and their children are so endearing that even their worst traits make the reader love them more, and there is ample insight into the private lives of a very private group in our history--the Quakers, or Friends. What a treat!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Dobbins on March 9, 2013
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“No, it wasn’t Eliza’s preaching nor any outward lack the eye could see that troubled Jess. It was music. Jess pined for music, though it would hard to say how he’d come by any such longing. To the Quakers music was a popish dido, a sop to the senses, a hurdle waiting to trip man in his upward struggle. They kept it out of their Meeting Houses and out of their homes, too.”

Jessamyn West wrote this novel about an Indiana Quaker family almost 75 years ago. Beginning in the 1860′s, we follow this delightful family through the child-rearing days, the Civil War, and the family gatherings years later when the children are grown with little ones of their own.

I chose this as my Indiana pick for the 52 Books Around the USA Challenge, and it was surprisingly good. My own husband’s ancestors were Quakers that settled in southern Indiana, so it was doubly exciting to me to read about a family that might have been similar to those I was researching. I have seen bullet holes resulting from Morgan’s raid, where the Confederates reached up into Indiana during the Civil War. And although the Society of Friends were pacifists, many young Quaker men enlisted in the Union Army, to do their duty and to fight against slavery, much to the chagrin of their families. I so enjoyed West’s take on the war in the context of the Birdwell family – it really made history (and those bullet holes) come alive.

This novel made me laugh and sympathize and charmed me in a way few books can. This was a wonderful read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pepper on May 20, 2013
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I really enjoyed reading this book. Once I got started reading the book I could not put it down.
Thanks for a good book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lucretia Olsen on May 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
..I had been searching for this book for some time. I had a copy and donated it..a mistake. I had her second book and looked in bookstores here and there..never finding it..So I ordered it here..read it and was so glad to have the story back again. Well worth the read and makes one feel that you wish that life was that calm and simple once again..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maybe on November 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A surprisingly well written and thoughtful look at some deep issues. The plot is a series of vignettes that examine key moments in the lives of a mid-19th century Quaker family in Indiana over a period of many years. There is no deep conflict that pervades everything or shadowy antagonist, the book is just about them dealing with ethics, faith, childhood and marriage as they go through their lives. This may seem a tad slow for some but West does a good job of making everyone seem very human.

I have always thought the standout tale in the book is about the adolescent son of the family, who in the midst of the Civil War has to decide if he will take up arms to fight against Confederates who may attack his home or hold true to his family's Quaker principles of pacifism. West makes it clear that it is a choice with no easy answer. For those who have seen the far inferior film version, I would just say that this sequence plays out far differently in the book.

This book certainly deserves more attention. One of the few well thought out depictions of happy family life in fiction. A quiet, contemplative and worthwhile read.
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