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Summary

The Outermost House is a classic of American nature literature.

In 1926, Henry Beston spent two weeks in a two-room cottage on the sand dunes of Cape Cod. He had not intended to stay longer, but, as he later wrote, "I lingered on, and as the year lengthened into autumn, the beauty and mystery of this earth and outer sea so possessed and held me that I could not go."

Beston stayed for a year, meditating on humanity and the natural world. In The Outermost House, originally published in 1928, he poetically chronicled the four seasons at the beach: the ebb and flow of the tides, the migration of birds, storms, stars, and solitude. The landscape was his major character, and his writing provides a snapshot of the Cape, a place physically changed yet still as soulful 80 years later.

Like Henry D. Thoreau before him, and Rachel Carson after him, Beston was a writer of stunning beauty, importance, and vision. Robert Finch once wrote of him, "His are burnished, polished sentences, richly metaphoric and musical, that beg to be read aloud."

©1928 Kate Barnes (P)2007 Silver Hollow Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"A colorful and ever-changing chronicle of movement that approaches the magnificent." ( Boston Transcript)
"Clear and full of life." ( The Nation)

What listeners say about The Outermost House

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killed by a droid

I’m confident this is a good book & story. However the narration is so hard to listen to I can’t get into it

1 person found this helpful

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Just wonderful

Considered, gentle, charming, informative. Beach in winter; solitary life, tiny house and off grid living.

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  • TESSA
  • 23-04-16

Splendid & evocative!

A must read for anyone who spent time in the Nauset Light to Coastguard beach area of the Cape! You will hear the sounds and smell the smells of your past visits! Thanks to my Dad, we spent many halcyon weeks right at Nauset Light Beach in cottages right on the dunes. Unfortunately, these cottages were swept away by the sea in the same storm that took the "Fo'scle"! We were lucky enough the have been there when we could still wander through the dune paths. Great read!

4 people found this helpful

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  • E. Beckstrom
  • 04-02-19

beautifully written, beautifully narrated

I first encountered this book as an undergraduate, in a literature of nature class. I have never been to Cape Cod, and on the surface, I could imagine some readers not being particularly captivated by Beston's descriptions of bird flight, the behaviors of this or that species, the names of different flowers and animals, similar to how some readers understandably have little patience for the technical descriptions of whales and whaling in Moby-Dick.

However, as so many reviewers over the decades have noted, there is something captivating, calming in an almost otherworldly way, poetic, and even thrilling in Beston's writing. The book is ostensibly a memoir, but one begins to perceive a greater purpose beyond simply cataloging the seasons of the year at Cape Cod, when one learns that not all of his scientific observations are accurate or even specific to the given season in which they are described. So his purpose is not to teach naturalism, per se, but to convey a sense of the sublime beauty, preciousness, majesty, and drama of the nature he is describing. He does so in a loosely narrative form, and every single time I read or listen to The Outermost House I find myself drawn into the experience of the narrator, and the book somehow, magically, becomes a page-turner.

The Outermost House has maintained its status as a classic of American literature, and a cornerstone of nature writing, because Beston succeeds so completely and everything he has set out to do. I highly recommend both the print and audiobook versions.

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  • Lauren B. Davis
  • 23-07-20

Enchanting

A beautiful meditation on the natural works. It is now one of my favorite books, indeed it rivals Walden Pond and the writing of Robert McFarland.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-02-19

Wonderful narration of classic Beston novel

I've read this book numerous time and this audio production was an excellent performance that brought out nuances not available on the page.

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  • Barracuddle
  • 17-11-18

On my all time top 10

The best in a take-me-away-from-it-all reading, a trip into your own wonderful imagination of a real place in another time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-03-21

Great book

Love it, but the chapters are not listed correctly, so if you are trying to start on a particular chapter, you have to jump around to find it.

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  • JH
  • 14-09-20

Beautifully written & a disappointing narrator

I was happy to discover Beston’s classic work — but found I could barely get through it because of the narrator. The reader lacks a lyricism and musicality that this memoir deserves. I recommend that people read the book, instead.