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The Harvester

by Gene Stratton-Porter
516 pages, Romance
Reviewed by Lady Meriwen

A gorgeous love story with confused theological ideas.

Plot

His real name is David Langston, but to the people of the region round Onabasha he is simply the Harvester. Alone except for his horse and dog, he makes his living in the woods by growing and gathering medicinal plants. He is content with his solitary existence, until one moonlit night a mysterious vision of a beautiful girl turns his life around. After an intense search he finds the Girl, living and breathing; but she is in dire trouble, distrustful of his kindness, and too thin and pale for beauty. He must woo her back to life and health while mastering his desire and longing for her love, constantly hoping that one day his vision will prove true.

Morality

The main characters are very unselfish in their motivations and try to do right by others, even those who don’t deserve it. This is most strongly shown in the Harvester, who throughout the story sacrifices himself for his beloved’s happiness and is kind to his rivals, though it costs him a struggle.

One woman deceives the Harvester (partly by pretending to be sick when she isn’t) but her intentions were good and she feels sorry for the deception afterward.

Spiritual Content

The Harvester seems to have his own religion, part of it very similar to Christianity, but the rest of it a strange nature-veneration mingled with Deism. He mentions a creative force at work in the world and he prays to “the Almighty Evolver of the Universe”. Towards the beginning of the book he has a supernatural dream which is never fully explained.

Violence

Twice the Harvester confronts a man who is trying to harm the Girl; he never does anything beyond knocking the man to the ground, but at one time he facetiously threatens to drown him in the river.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The Harvester’s business is to compound medicines from plants. He mentions that half of the plants are poison if not used properly. A sick woman is given drugs in a hospital setting.

Sexual Content

Though romance is the plot’s main concern, it is very tastefully done with nothing overt or offensive. The Harvester talks to himself about his love for the Girl, and how he longs for her to love him enough to kiss him passionately. There are several kisses, a few of which are passionate. A character confesses to someone (in implication) that she offered sexual favors to someone in return for his help; she adds that the man did not claim them, however.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The antagonist makes crude comments about one man’s innocent relationship with a woman, implying (though not specifically stating) that the man is paying her for sexual services. The Harvester cries out, “God!” in a moment of agony and says “Oh, Lord!” occasionally (though never flippantly).

Conclusion

Quite simply, this is the most beautiful love story I have ever read. It managed to escape most of the pitfalls of modern romances in spite of the intense emotion conveyed, and it provides a moving example of a man who loved to the fullest extent of the word. With all that, the main character is undeniably human; it is extremely difficult for him to control his natural desire and--when misplaced--his protective instincts.

About halfway through the book I was getting a bit of an environmentalist vibe from the Harvester, but only a few pages afterward that notion was completely turned around when he said that he would uproot all his plants without hesitation if by doing so he could save a single human life. I appreciated that explanation very much, since it let me view the Harvester’s love of nature with a better understanding. The nature aspect of this book is lovely, particularly the poetic descriptions of several different plants and the sweet, pure atmosphere of the Harvester’s home.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: adult

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