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Cressy   By: (1836-1902)

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Cressy by Bret Harte is a compelling tale that delves deep into the complexities of human nature and the consequences of one's choices. Set in the rugged mountains of California during the mid-19th century, this novel offers a vivid portrayal of life in a small mining town.

The story follows the journey of Cressy, a young woman who is forced to grow up quickly due to the harsh circumstances of her life. Cressy's character is intricately developed, with Harte expertly capturing her resilience, vulnerability, and the tumultuous emotions she experiences. Her struggle for survival, both physically and emotionally, is palpable throughout the novel.

Harte's writing style adds depth and richness to the narrative, as he creates a vivid sense of place and time. His descriptions of the rugged scenery and the challenging lives of the miners immerse the reader into the world he has created. The attention to detail is impeccable, painting a realistic picture of the era and the obstacles faced by the characters.

The supporting characters in Cressy are equally as compelling as the protagonist. Each person in the mining town has their own story to tell, and Harte masterfully weaves their lives together, creating a tapestry of human experiences. From the hardworking miners to the corrupt businessmen, every character feels authentic and contributes to the overall atmosphere of the novel.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its exploration of human morality. Harte presents a myriad of ethical dilemmas that force the characters to confront their own values and actions. The choices they make have profound consequences, often shedding light on the complexities of right and wrong. This exploration of morality adds depth to the plot and prompts readers to reflect on their own beliefs.

However, one aspect that may discourage some readers is the slower pacing of the story. While Harte's detailed descriptions and character development are undoubtedly captivating, it does result in a slower narrative. The story takes its time to unfold, which may test the patience of readers seeking a more action-packed plot.

Overall, Cressy is a remarkable piece of literature that combines an engaging storyline with thought-provoking themes. Bret Harte's masterful storytelling and captivating characters make for a compelling read. This novel is a testament to the power of human resilience, the consequences of our choices, and the quest for redemption.

First Page:


By Bret Harte



As the master of the Indian Spring school emerged from the pine woods into the little clearing before the schoolhouse, he stopped whistling, put his hat less jauntily on his head, threw away some wild flowers he had gathered on his way, and otherwise assumed the severe demeanor of his profession and his mature age which was at least twenty. Not that he usually felt this an assumption; it was a firm conviction of his serious nature that he impressed others, as he did himself, with the blended austerity and ennui of deep and exhausted experience.

The building which was assigned to him and his flock by the Board of Education of Tuolumne County, California, had been originally a church. It still bore a faded odor of sanctity, mingled, however, with a later and slightly alcoholic breath of political discussion, the result of its weekly occupation under the authority of the Board as a Tribune for the enunciation of party principles and devotion to the Liberties of the People. There were a few dog eared hymn books on the teacher's desk, and the blackboard but imperfectly hid an impassioned appeal to the citizens of Indian Spring to "Rally" for Stebbins as Supervisor. The master had been struck with the size of the black type in which this placard was printed, and with a shrewd perception of its value to the round wandering eyes of his smaller pupils, allowed it to remain as a pleasing example of orthography... Continue reading book >>

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