Encuentra tu próximo/a libro favorito/a

Conviértase en miembro hoy y lea gratis durante 30 días
Harvest Home: A Novel

Harvest Home: A Novel

Leer la vista previa

Harvest Home: A Novel

4/5 (20 valoraciones)
515 página
8 horas
Sep 24, 2013


A family flees the crime-ridden city—and finds something worse—in “a brilliantly imagined horror story” by the New York Times–bestselling author (The Boston Globe).

After watching his asthmatic daughter suffer in the foul city air, Theodore Constantine decides to get back to the land. When he and his wife search New England for the perfect nineteenth-century home, they find no township more charming, no countryside more idyllic than the farming village of Cornwall Coombe. Here they begin a new life: simple, pure, close to nature—and ultimately more terrifying than Manhattan’s darkest alley.
When the Constantines win the friendship of the town matriarch, the mysterious Widow Fortune, they are invited to join the ancient festival of Harvest Home, a ceremony whose quaintness disguises dark intentions. In this bucolic hamlet, where bootleggers work by moonlight and all of the villagers seem to share the same last name, the past is more present than outsiders can fathom—and something far more sinister than the annual harvest is about to rise out of the earth.
Credited as the inspiration for Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, Thomas Tryon’s chilling novel was ahead of its time when first published, and continues to provoke abject terror in readers.
Sep 24, 2013

Sobre el autor

Thomas Tryon (1926–1991), actor turned author, made his bestselling debut with The Other (1971), which spent nearly six months on the New York Times bestseller list and allowed him to quit acting for good; a film adaptation, with a screenplay by Tryon and directed by Robert Mulligan, appeared in 1972. Tryon wrote two more novels set in the fictional Pequot Landing of The Other—Harvest Home (1973) and Lady (1974). Crowned Heads (1976) detailed the lives of four fictional film stars and All That Glitters (1986) explored the dark side of the golden age of Hollywood. Night Magic (published posthumously in 1995) was a modern-day retelling of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.   

Relacionado con Harvest Home

Libros relacionados
Artículos relacionados

Vista previa del libro

Harvest Home - Thomas Tryon



Agnes Fair


I AWAKENED THAT MORNING to birdsong. It was only the little yellow bird who lives in the locust tree outside our bedroom window, but I could have wrung his neck, for it was not yet six and I had a hangover. That was in late summer, before Harvest Home, before the bird left its nest for the winter. Now it is spring again, alas, and as predicted the yellow bird has returned. The Eternal Return, as they call it here. Thinking back from this day to that one nine months ago, I now imagine the bird to have been sounding a warning. But that is nonsense, of course, for who could have thought it was a bird of ill omen, that little creature?

During the first long summer, its cheerful notes seemed to stand both as a mark of fulfillment and as a promise of profound happiness, signifying the achievement of our hearts’ desire. Happiness, fulfillment—if promised, they came only in the strangest measure.

The house, though new to us when we purchased it in the spring, was almost three hundred years old, an uninhabited wreck we had chanced upon, bought, and spent the summer restoring. In late August, with the greater part of the work behind us, I was enjoying the satisfaction of realizing one’s fondest wish. A house in the country. The great back-to-the-land movement. City mouse into country mouse. Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Constantine and daughter, landed gentry, late of New York City, presently residing at 11 Penrose Lane, in the ancient New England village of Cornwall Coombe. We had lived there less than four months.

I had thrown up my job as advertising executive with a large New York firm and was now working as a serious artist, painting in the studio I had made from the chicken house behind the garage. My time was my own; I kept no scheduled hours, but worked as I chose. Yet, habitually an early riser, I liked to take advantage of the pristine morning solitude, often abroad in the still unfamiliar village environs to discover a housefront to sketch, a river view, a tree, whatever might catch my fancy. Today, however, I felt slothful. Hung over, lumpish, unwilling to rise, I told myself it must be Saturday, and hoped it was true. I was dimly aware that the day held some particular significance, though what it was I could not recall.

My stomach made a hollow noise, and Beth’s head turned toward me. She reached and touched my hand, the corners of her mouth lifting with the fleeting traces of a smile; even in her sleep she knew I was suffering for my last night’s over-indulgence. I tried to give her back her hand, placing it where it had rested, at her breast, but her fingers remained entwined in mine. She offered companionable little pressures between them as she lay reclined at an easy angle, tendrils of hair partly covering her closed eyes.

I listened to her easy, rhythmic breathing, watched the rise and fall of her breast, my eye lingering on the rounded fullness of the pale flesh, the darker, almost carmine-colored tips under the pleated, translucent cotton. Though pillow-creased and sleepy, a trifle wan and strained, her face to me, sixteen years her husband, was infinitely pleasing. I was not only her spouse, her lover, but her admirer as well, and I speculated as to how many married couples were as good friends as we were.

As I gazed at her, not wanting to wake her, I realized that her face was thinner. Since our coming to the village, with the work and worry of the house, and the continuing crises with our young teenage daughter Kate, fatigue had shown itself, and I wondered if having traded being city mice for being country mice was not a mistake.

She was not asleep. The smile widened lazily, her lids fluttered, she drew a luxurious breath, and opened her eyes.

Good morning, darling.

I smiled back and said good morning.

Hung over?


Poor sweet.

A blue vein throbbed in her neck and I bent and pressed my mouth to it. Her arm came around my head, holding it there, her fingers playing in my hair. My wife, my love. She moved closer, her hand sliding down my cheek, feeling my night’s growth of whiskers. Bluebeard, she murmured, and I turned my head to find her lips. I kissed the sleep from her mouth and from her eyes; gentle kisses, but as her body pressed against mine I felt a stirring, a compelling surge. She must have felt it, too, for contented sounds came from behind her lips, and I pulled her nearer still. It was not our custom to make love in the morning—we had not, in fact, made love for some time—but quite suddenly, of all ideas it seemed the best and the most natural.

I waited while she disengaged herself, slid from under the sheet on her side of the bed, and stood. Splaying her fingers, she combed them through her hair and shook it out. It fell across her face again, obscuring her profile as she looked down to undo her nightgown. Sun rays filtering through the window framed her from behind, the flesh opaquely dark against the sheer white fabric, and the melting light produced a sort of corona around the sweep of her hair. She raised the shift over her head, bending to lay it aside with a grace and innocence that reminded me of one of those lovely pastel bathers of Degas.

When she put herself into my arms, she was warm and smelled of sleep and softness. I could feel the fragile cage of her ribs under the flesh of her back as she arched against me; yes, she was thinner. We made love affectionately, communicatively, tenderly, but without passion; we had become too used to each other, and to the act, for it to hold any new mysteries. Beth’s nature was not one of passion, but rather of compliancy. She was accessible, submissive, yielding in a mild, utterly feminine way. Myself, I did not dream of great passions; she was my wife, I loved her, we had a child, and though we could not have another, still we were a family. I had never been unfaithful, either in body or in spirit, and if passion was lacking, there were other things, more important things, that made up for the lack.

Later, we lay still joined, uttering satisfied resonances into each other’s necks and cheeks. I remember thinking how lucky I was, feeling safe and secure in the world we were creating for ourselves, this new world in the village of Cornwall Coombe. And this, our bedroom, seemed the very heart, the alive and throbbing, most particular and exact center of that world. Lying at peace, I let my eye rove around its already familiar, lived-in spaces, enjoying the pale buttery yellow of the simple plaster walls that took the sunlight and amplified it, the thick, creamy enameled woodwork, the matching Chippendale chests serving as bureaus, the Hudson River landscape over the fireplace, the airy curtains Beth had made, the bowl of flowers she had arranged on the mantel, her dressing table with its array of crystal bottles—perfume she seldom wore. Our room, I told myself; our house, our world.

And still the bird sang in the locust tree.

"Listen to it," Beth sat up, pulling the sheet to her chin and leaning forward on her knees.

I could have killed it. What’s today?


Thought so. I snuggled some more, pleased that I had been right. Then we can stay right here—

"Don’t you know what day it is? She laughed a gay light laugh that was all her own. It’s fair day, remember? The Agnes Fair?"

Of course—I had forgotten. The last Saturday in August was the day of the village fair, an annual tradition. I had been hearing of little else for weeks. Did I drink a lot last night?

No. But drinking’s never been your long suit.

I tried to lure her back into my arms. She resisted, saying she must get up and do the picnic lunch. Slipping away, she held her shift against her as she ran to the shower. I pulled the pillow onto my stomach and cradled it, stretching and feeling great crackings along my night-knotted frame, and wondering what the Agnes Fair would be like, this village festival everyone set such store by. Agnes—who was she? I confess I was intrigued by the prospect no less than Beth appeared to be. Where but in Cornwall Coombe did people have folk festivals any more?

I still found it difficult to believe places like this existed in the world today. Only it wasn’t in the world; it was another world, a world of its own. On that morning, I lay there thinking how perfectly it suited me. We had been part of that discontented host longing to escape the city; like so many others, we had sought to rediscover more stable values, to satisfy a yearning to set our feet upon the land again. We had become frightened in New York, of the lurkers in the doorways. So we had fled to the country, hoping the country would provide what the city could not: peace, tranquility, and safety. All to be found in Cornwall Coombe, and while Beth showered, I drowsed on the pillow, contemplating the joys of being possessed of an eighteenth-century house.


SOMETIMES WE SAID WE must have been possessed even to buy the house. It was a matter of the merest coincidence that we had found it at all, so out of the way was it. After years of Sunday brunch discussions with friends about the joys of country life, we’d begun hunting. Started close to the city, looked in Westchester, in Rye, in Croton-on-Hudson, Bedford Hills; then sneaked across into Connecticut, in Greenwich, Cos Cob, Darien, Westport. Took Polaroids of anything that seemed likely, then scotched them one after the other: too large, too small, too expensive, poor schools, not enough character. The truth was we were afraid to make a decision.

Finally, the decision was made for us, or so it seemed. In February, Beth’s father, Lawson Colby, had died. We had gone up for the funeral, and in mid-March we packed Kate in the back seat and drove up again to settle the last of his affairs and arrange for the storage of his belongings. When we drove back the weather was bad. There was no snow, but a fine sleety drizzle made the prospect of the long drive a dreary one. Beth was silent and withdrawn, haunted by whatever guilts she may have been harboring about her father; Kate, who had the sniffles, was in one of her moods.

Then, an hour or more along the way, the rain stopped and the sun struggled from behind the overcast. On Beth’s whim, we left the four-lane parkway and got on an old turnpike to take in some of the small towns along the way; then we left the turnpike and drove along a back-country road; then we got lost. We came to a place called Saxony, and that was on the map, and beyond that was something called Tobacco City, also on the map, and across the river Cornwall Coombe, hardly on the map at all.

Suddenly, as we came over a hill, we saw in the upper left-hand corner of a vacant prospect an old, swaybacked covered bridge spanning a narrow reach of the river. Though our side was still ghost-gray, the farther side was bathed in a pale yellow light, as though that land were in some way more special, more deserving of the benediction of sun, and as the clouds moved above the lowering expanse, I saw something that made me smile and wait for Kate’s cry. It came on cue.

Look, Daddy—Mummy! A rainbow!

Faint, yet it was there, a wide bridge of colors above the one of wood, and it was only inevitable that we find the route to the bridge and cross over. A sign read, Lost Whistle Bridge.

Had the sky been filled with fire and brimstone, a rain of St. Elmo’s fire, or some other ancient portent, a man might well have continued along his planned route. But a rainbow? Who could mistake that for anything but a sign of the most auspicious kind? Every schoolboy knows a rainbow is lucky; at the end there lies a pot of gold.

I turned the car, and what we discovered thereafter became a source of wonderment to all of us, for we had not gone far before I realized we truly were in Heart’s Desire. No more than a hamlet, Cornwall Coombe lay nestled among some low hills, girdled by groves of just-budding maples and locust trees. Everywhere the forsythia and pussywillow were in bloom, as well as the shadblow bushes along the riverbank, and the air became suddenly flush with spring.

A remote section, its roads seemed hardly traveled, but for an occasional truck or farm wagon. First it had been only empty countryside, farms and farmland, sagging silos, fences of wire or stone, the fallow earth ready for planting, and not a soul to be seen. Then, rounding a bend, we saw in a large plowed field a farmer with a hoe. He was not, like the man in the poem, bowed by the weight of centuries, but a tall upright fellow, a giant of a man, blond-headed and almost proud-looking. Alone among the furrows, he stood easily, the hoe over his shoulder, and he looked off at the tilled land in a waiting attitude as, over the shallow brow of the hill beyond, a horde of figures appeared, waving aloft a forest of hoes, ragged against the skyline. The man raised his hoe in a kind of welcoming gesture, and the figures spread out across the field, women and children poking holes in the soil with their hoe handles, the men bending to drop seed from bags slung over their shoulders. Now the holes were closed up, and, the planters moving in structured patterns across the dark umber of the field, the pallid yellow sun breaking through the slate-gray clouds, I thought of a Flemish landscape with its primitive simplicity, right and natural and perfect.

I remember experiencing at that moment an emotion I could not then—nor can I now—describe, a vague stirring inside me, some fugitive longing, a desire to stop the car, get out and feel my feet upon that earth, to be among those farm people planting seeds that would grow. Watching, Beth reached and pressed my hand. This was what we had been trying to express to each other, she and I. This was the reality of the dream.

The country road became a street: Main Street, naturally enough. Proceeding past a crossing with a sign reading Penrose Lane, we continued toward the center of the town, where Colonial houses bore plaques on their aged fronts proclaiming the date they had been built and who had built them: Penrose, 1811; Harper Penrose, 1709; Gwydeon Penrose, 1668. A good, Penroseate, New England town. Beth said it reminded her of a Currier & Ives print, and Kate squealed in delight at the flock of sheep cropping the turf of the broad Common in front of the white steepled church.

We wondered why the streets seemed so empty, for it was midday; then the answer become obvious: they were all out in the field, the entire village. We circled the Common, looking at the houses, the church, and other buildings, then drove back the way we had come. Beth squeezed my hand again, struck by the beauty of the place, and on that fine spring afternoon I had to admit it was unlike anything I had imagined would exist in this day and age. Its charm was instantly apparent, with an indefinable but unmistakable something that made it so attractive. Perhaps it was the spare, immaculate houses with their lawns just coming green, the plots of winter-tended gardens, the bright, beckoning window-gleam, the spruce paint on the clapboards and shutters, the lofty trees whose bare branches arched over the road.

When we came to Penrose Lane again, on the merest impulse I turned in. It proved an interesting turning: a wide, tree-lined street with handsome old dwellings behind elegant fences of wood or iron pickets, here a stone mounting step at the curb, there a stylish gilded weather vane atop a cupola.

Then, largish, dilapidated, forlorn, the house appeared on our left. We had passed the smaller house next door, on whose porch sat a man wearing dark glasses, while a woman worked in a flower bed close to the hedge separating them from the adjoining property. Perhaps I might have driven on by, but my eye was attracted to the brickwork on the chimneys, carefully executed work that said something to my artist’s eye. But it wasn’t the chimneys, really; it was the house. I was drawn to it as though it were fate itself, Kismet in clapboards. Without thinking, I swerved across the road and pulled into the drive alongside the hedge. Kate bounded out and ran up on the porch, while Beth and I sat craning our necks behind the windshield.

Clearly, the place was empty. The patchy lawn had gone to crab grass, there were weeds in the flower beds, the windows were bare with some of the panes broken.

Oh, darling, look, Beth breathed, opening the car door, and together we went across the lawn to the side of the house, looking up at the massive clumps of shrubbery under the windows. I recognized them as lilac bushes, and knew why she turned to me with her smile; I had brought her lilacs in Paris one spring. At the corner of the house there was a large locust tree, and up in the branches we could see a last-year’s nest. Abandoned nest, abandoned house. We spent some time peeking behind cupped hands through grimy windows along the front; then Kate, who had gone adventuring on her own, came reporting a discovery: a tumble-down chicken house behind the garage. While she ran around it making hen squawks I let its ample proportions begin giving me ideas about a studio. On the pitched roof was an empty dovecote, and beyond what must once have been a stable.

Halfway down the lawn was a large beech tree with the remnants of a birdhouse dangling from a lower limb. A hundred or more branches sprang from a triple fork which in turn grew from an enormous trunk, with thick, gnarled roots spreading out at the base. A beautiful tree, lofty and immense, gray, wrinkled, scruffy; it looked like a grand old elephant.

I put my arm around Beth’s shoulders and walked with her back across the lawn. Out in front, we went up on the sagging porch and peeked some more while Kate tried the door, which was locked. The living and dining rooms revealed some interesting paneled wainscoting and wide pegged floors, and the former a large fireplace.

We found our prowlings had not gone unobserved. The woman from next door stood at the bottom of the steps, looking up at us. She listened affably enough as I explained we were interested in old houses—not strictly a lie—and she smiled when I inquired if anyone had a key. She told us the place had been shut up for years; it belonged to someone named, appropriately, Penrose, the village postmistress, but the upkeep had been too much and she had moved to other quarters.

Was the house by any chance for sale? I inquired.

By no chance, the woman replied. Not unfriendly, just firm. I wondered if perhaps she didn’t want neighbors.

Would it be possible to speak with Mrs. Penrose? I persisted.

Miss Penrose, she corrected, Miss Tamar Penrose would be at the post office, unless she’d closed and gone to the field with the others. But, the woman added, Miss Penrose would definitely not be interested in selling.

I descended the rickety steps with Beth. Quite a gang out in the field.

The woman laughed. You’ve come on Planting Day.

I said we would try the post office, and thanked her. I took the Polaroid camera from the glove compartment and snapped a picture. Beth and Kate were waiting in the car, and as I got in, the woman stood on the walk, watching. On the other side of the hedge I heard the sound of a voice reading aloud, and caught snatches of a paragraph I thought I recognized from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.

The post office was closed. I looked at Beth and shrugged; clearly it wasn’t in the cards, and I wasn’t about to track the lady down in some cornfield. Beth’s wistful smile said what it had at other times: Never mind, there’s a house for us somewhere. Leaving Kate to acquaint herself with the sheep, we walked together across the Common to the church, where a quaint black buggy with a dapper mare awaited an absent owner. In the churchyard a figure was laying flowers on a grave, an old woman in voluminous black, with something white on her head. Having no wish to intrude on her privacy, we kept our distance, and instead of reading the tombstone inscriptions as Beth had suggested, we admired the clock tower and belfry in the steeple. When we left I saw the old woman observing us.

As we returned to the car, we heard Kate calling to come and take her picture with the sheep. The shot came out darkish and I tried another; it was better. Pocketing the first, I handed the second to Kate, who laughed and showed it to Beth. It was a good one, a last memento of Cornwall Coombe: Kate’s smile telling her delight to be amid such exotic creatures as sheep, behind her the Common, the old New England church. Then, looking again, I saw in the photograph, standing on the church steps, the same figure we had seen in the graveyard. I glanced up quickly and saw her watching us from the spot where the camera had caught her.

Again on impulse, I left Beth and Kate and went back across the Common to inquire of the old woman if she knew anything about the empty house in Penrose Lane. She pointed to the post office, and I said yes, I knew about Miss Penrose, but did she think the property might be shown? She paused to consider, then replied she had no way of telling; you never knew how folks might behave around here. I reached in my pocket for a pencil, took out the first snapshot, and scribbled our New York telephone number on the back. If, I said, she talked to the post-office lady, and if the property might be shown, would she call me collect? She accepted the photo, looked at the number, then turned it over and peered at the picture. Nice girl, she said; handsome family. Then she made another remark as she started down the steps.

Beg pardon? I asked, not quite catching it.

I said, ‘Handsome is as handsome does.’

The picture disappeared among the ample folds of her skirts as she marched to the buggy at the curb. Getting in, she glanced at me again, and I thought I saw a twinkle in the ancient eyes. Well, must get on for the plantin’.

What do they plant? I asked.

Corn, she replied as the buggy rattled away.

There was little talk for the rest of our journey home. I was disappointed, and though Beth and I didn’t exchange thoughts we each knew what the other was thinking. We had not driven very far when Kate started sneezing; then she began a mild attack of asthma. We always kept a Medihaler in the glove compartment, an oral device which helped reduce the chest congestion, and when she had found relief I stepped on the gas.

If it had been spring in the country, winter still hung on in the city, dirty, slushy, blowy. Our West Side apartment seemed drab and dark and, as if for the first time, I saw how badly it needed repainting. Beth, naturally enough, was depressed following the death of her father, though she tried not to show it. Kate’s asthma attack had worsened, and she had to be kept out of school again.

I was edgy and nervous, and had another row at the office with old Osborne regarding the Staples Coffee account. The argument concluded, I burst out, ready to quit, and though cooler heads momentarily prevailed, I knew my days were numbered. The following noon, I resigned my position by mutual agreement. By four the same afternoon, Sandler-Haigh heard I was available and called to make me an offer; I said I’d think it over.

I had fitted out a small room in the back of the apartment as a kind of studio where I had been painting in my spare time, and there I retired, nursing my ruffled ego and telling myself now was the time. Get out of the rat race, don’t go back, do what you’ve always wanted to do. Beth agreed. We had saved a fair bit; there was a lot more to come from her father’s estate, and it seemed a good time, she pointed out, to take stock. I had begun as an artist, why not continue? I said I’d think that over, too—though I’d been thinking it over for two years or more.

What neither of us could stop thinking of, or talking about, was the house. Marvelous lines, I said; fabulous possibilities, she said; front porch would have to come off, I said; needed lots of chintz, she said; but we couldn’t have it, we both said.

Sometimes I would take the photograph of the church on the Common and sit staring at it. It seemed to beckon me, saying, Come. But if this was a form of destiny, it was a thwarted one; clearly we were not meant to come.

Kate improved. I went around the corner to buy her some chili at Pepe’s Chili Palor—as we called it, because as long as we had lived in the neighborhood the first r in the neon sign had never worked. Pepe Gonzalez, the proprietor, was out; his daughter ’Cita waited on me. Poor ’Cita: a dozen or more years later, she was still apologizing for the case of mumps I had caught from her when she was a child.

Kate got better, returned to school. Beth decided to paint the living room. I worked in the back studio. It seemed as if spring would never arrive.

Then, several weeks later, the telephone call came. I was working in tempera on a gesso panel when Beth came in and said it was long distance; something in her face told me it was no ordinary call. The warm voice identified itself as Mrs. Dodd; perhaps I remembered her, in Penrose Lane up in Cornwall Coombe? It was about the house next door, and if we were still interested, the house might be shown. Would we care to come up?

Would we! Leaving Kate with Mrs. Pepe, we set out early Sunday morning and got there shortly before noon. The weather was gorgeous. Spring had advanced in the countryside since our last visit; the dogwood was in bloom and the laurel, and rows of yellow daffodils blared trumpet-like in the greening gardens. When we arrived in Cornwall Coombe, I parked in front of the drugstore as had been arranged, and we waited on the Common for Mrs. Dodd until church was over.

We could hear the organ in the church, and the bright sound of voices singing the lofty chorus of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, the hymn swelling in the clear morning air. I looked at Beth and winked. The sheep were still grazing on the grass. Soon we heard the congregation giving the last responses, then the minister’s benediction, and the people began spilling from the church vestibule. I saw Mrs. Dodd appear, helping the man in the dark glasses down the steps. Leaving him chatting with a figure I recognized as the old woman I had given our telephone number to, Mrs. Dodd hurried to meet us. She said her car was parked on the other side of the Common, and if we drove around we could follow her. Yes, she had the key.

When we pulled up behind her Buick, the old woman gave us a backward glance as she drove away in her buggy. We were introduced to Mrs. Dodd’s husband, who was blind. I ventured a commonplace about the church music, and Mr. Dodd said with some pride that it was his wife who played the organ. Today, Mrs. Dodd interpolated, was Whitsunday. I looked at Beth: did people still observe Whitsunday?

We drove to Penrose Lane, where Mrs. Dodd led her husband to the porch and settled him in a chair, made him a drink, then joined us on the lawn next door. The lilacs were in bloom along the drive, and a bird was rebuilding the nest in the locust tree, a little yellow bird.

The house, Mrs. Dodd explained before unlocking the front door, was one of the oldest in the village. It had been built by the son of one of the founders, Gwydeon Penrose, whose house was on the Common. This one needed a plaque: 1709.

A bit in need of repair, too, I’m afraid, she said as we entered the musty hallway; well, yes and no. The kitchen was impossible, but for money could be made possible. Likewise the baths. The rest was all we had hoped for, and more. Its charm was infinite. The wide hall divided the house; on one side was the living room, spacious, with pegged floors and the marvelous fireplace, and across the hall a large dining room with the paneled wainscoting under what looked like thirty coats of paint. Connecting the dining room and kitchen was a smaller room with another fireplace. I suspected it was what used to be referred to as the second parlor, but Mrs. Dodd called it something that sounded like bacchante room. It was only later I realized she must have said back anteroom.

Upstairs there were four bedrooms; the largest, with agreeable proportions, revealed another fireplace and overlooked the locust tree at the front corner, with the Dodd hedge below.

We came down, and, leaving the two women talking in the kitchen, I went out back to look at the chicken house again; I was right; it would make a perfect studio. Walking past the stable to the foot of the property, I gazed back at the wide sweep of rutted, weed-choked lawn and made silent decrees. There I wanted a terrace, there a wall, there border gardens. I wanted pigeons in the dovecote, and another birdhouse in the beech tree. I wanted the house painted white, with dark green shutters, and except for removing the front porch, not another line would I touch. The baths would have to be modernized, the kitchen as well. I would put in a picture window. I would clean out the chicken house and put in a skylight and whitewash the interior. I would paint the stable barn-red; I would find Kate a horse. I would have it all just as I had always dreamed of. In short, I would buy the place.

When I learned how much it would cost.

I walked back to the house to find Beth standing alone in the drive under the lilacs. She had pulled a bloom down to smell it; then, thinking herself unobserved, she put her face in a bunch of them, as though wanting to drown in their scent. Hearing my footstep, she turned, and I still carry the memory of how lovely she looked at that moment, her face buried in the purple clusters.

Oh, Ned, she sighed; there was no need to say any more. While overhead, in the branches of the tree, the yellow bird feathered its nest, we, below, laid plans to feather ours. I held Beth’s face in my hands and looked into her eyes. Because of the old trouble, I wanted, this one last time, to be sure she was certain in her heart it was the right move. Her face gave me the answer. I cautioned her to play it deadpan and not seem too anxious; then we went to find Mrs. Dodd again. She met us at her door and ushered us into the sun porch, which also served as the blind man’s study, a small, many-windowed room with half-drawn shades. The walls were lined with shelves holding a helter-skelter collection of books, papers, folders, memorabilia. Over drinks, we learned that Mr. Dodd was, in fact, Professor Dodd, and had taught in a college in the northern part of New England before retiring. Choosing my moment, I inquired when we might speak with Miss Penrose about the house. Professor Dodd said there was no need; he had been authorized to make the sale in the event we found the property satisfactory. He would name a price and that would be it; there would be no dickering. I asked what that price might be, scarcely suppressing a look of astonishment when he mentioned a figure well under what we were prepared to pay.

We asked about available schools and doctors. Mrs. Dodd shook her head. The village could not afford its own doctor; the nearest one was in Saxony, on the far side of the river; he came in emergencies. Aside from him, the Widow Fortune, a sort of midwife, homeopath, and veterinarian combined, was all Cornwall Coombe had. Legal matters were usually handled by a lawyer in Ledyardtown. Though there was a school of sorts, most of the farm children didn’t go beyond the eighth grade. For those who wanted to attend, there was a high school over in Saxony, but hardly anyone from Cornwall Coombe, except the paperboy, went there. Learning was scant in the village. I looked at Beth; this was something we hadn’t foreseen. No doctor, no school; both were necessary.

There was, however, Mrs. Dodd suggested, a good place over in Ledyardtown, the Greenfarms School, which had a fine reputation. Many parents in the neighboring towns who desired better education for their children sent them there. No bus, though; Beth would have to drive. Car pool? No, none of the village children attended Greenfarms. If we cared to, Mrs. Dodd would take us over after lunch. I asked Mr. Dodd if we would encounter difficulty in finding workmen to do the renovation; he mentioned a Bill Johnson, who lived out on the turnpike, and said this man could probably give us a more than satisfactory job. Mrs. Dodd offered a bite of lunch with them, but we declined tactfully. She suggested the Yankee Clipper, also out on the turnpike, or if something light would do, there was the Rocking Horse Tavern in the village. We chose the latter, finished our drinks, and when Mrs. Dodd brought her husband’s lunch on a tray, with the food carefully cut up for him, we left, asking if we might have a few hours to discuss the situation. Mr. Dodd said to take all the time we needed, the house would still be there.

Crossing the lawn, I heard again the voice reading from a book: Miss Havisham often asked me in a whisper, or when we were alone, ‘Does she grow prettier and prettier, Pip?’ I recognized Great Expectations, and thought of our own.

We parked beside the Common, then paused to admire the wooden rocking horse over the doorway of the tavern, a polychromed figure with gilded mane and tail. Inside, the air was thick with pipe smoke and talk of corn among the farmers gathered around the bar; several eyed us with curiosity as we found a table in the back and ordered beers and steak sandwiches, and began exchanging ideas about the house. Beth laughed when I told her about having misunderstood Mrs. Dodd’s comment about the bacchante room, and said it cried for mulberry walls, and could we have a hunter-green sofa? She remembered there was a Victorian sideboard in storage we could hide the TV in.

Some others came in, an older man and five younger ones, and they also were stared at as they heaved past the bar with heavy-booted tread and took a table in the corner. While the men at the bar talked corn, these talked tobacco, a burly, almost ruffian-looking gang, obviously a family. The older one, an angry bristly man, we decided must be the father.

After lunch, as we waited for Mrs. Dodd, we stood outside the tavern and had a look around the Common. This large central area of the village was more than an eighth of a mile long, oval in shape, encircled by a road which began at the north end where Main Street left off. On the west side were a Grange hall, a firehouse, and a grocery; then the post office, an ancient, squat, oddly shaped building of wood and stone, with a large, lopsided chimney. Next door was the Gwydeon Penrose House, then the drugstore, a barbershop, and more houses. Our side began with the tavern; next to it a building apparently combining the facilities of town hall and library; another ancient clapboarded dwelling, now converted into a bank, with Ye Beauty Shoppe upstairs; more houses; and the church, directly opposite the post office.

People were taking their Sunday ease along the walks, looking in the shopwindows or forming little knots of conversation, while their offspring played on the Common where the sheep bleated as dogs without leashes ran among them.

What cars were parked along the curbing seemed of Eisenhower vintage, their wheels and fenders still muddy from the winter. A wagon creaked by, a stolid farmer holding the reins. He pulled up, got down, and went into the tavern we had just quit, sliding a look at us as he passed. I thought how wonderful to hear horses’ hoofs, the sort of sound one expected in such a place.

Taking Beth’s arm, I walked with her in the direction of the church. An old man sat on the top step near the vestibule doorway, his chair tilted back, his lap filled with knitting as his gnarled hands plied large wooden needles. He, too, was observing us. I felt Beth’s hand squeeze mine, two nervous little tugs. I squeezed it back, and we strolled into the cemetery to wander among the tombstones again, reading the antique inscriptions. Like the living village, this dead one seemed well populated by Penroses.

We climbed a grassy knoll whose far side was also planted with graves sloping away into a marshy meadowland, with the river gently curving inward beyond. A low iron fence marked the boundary of the cemetery, and on the other side, half hidden under a tangle of briars, was a solitary marker. Curious, I went to investigate. All around the plot the grass was long and untended, the ground wet and soggy. I pushed the briars aside and read the inscription:




Wondering who the unfortunate lady was who had been thus consigned to unconsecrated ground, I returned to Beth on the slope above, and we left the cemetery and passed the church where the old man pursued his woolwork—a muffler, if I was correct—his eye not missing a trick as we continued along the walk to the point where Main Street began. Then we gazed back at the panorama. The sun was bright, the sky blue and cloudless, and spring was everywhere. A man was dressing up a picket fence with a fresh coat of paint; another carried a bucket out behind a house and used an old-fashioned hand pump to fill it. A third sprinkled ashes on a cultivated plot beside his doorway, while beribboned girls dawdled over boys with Sunday-slicked haircuts. Another wagon lumbered past; a dog ran under the horses’ traces, barking at their hoofs.

I loved the feel of the place: the tranquil, bucolic look, the sense of peace that spoke

Has llegado al final de esta vista previa. ¡Regístrate para leer más!
Página 1 de 1


Lo que piensa la gente sobre Harvest Home

20 valoraciones / 10 Reseñas
¿Qué te pareció?
Calificación: 0 de 5 estrellas

Reseñas de lectores

  • (4/5)
    I thought this was a great book. The pacing is a little slow, but I didn't mind because I was so caught up in the descriptions of adapting to life in a small town. Cornwall Coombe seemed like a perfect place to live. I thought there was a little too much foreshadowing throughout the book. Often the narrator, Ned, would say things like this was the last day we were happy, or something similar.

    Since I am reading this in 2014, it was pretty easy to see where the story was going and what the "big secret" was. But I still enjoyed the journey. Truthfully, as the story progressed, I felt Ned's character became more and more annoying. Just because people like to keep old customs, doesn't mean they should be looked upon with scorn. I thought the ending was satisfying and a good conclusion to the story.
  • (4/5)
    I loved it!!! Of course, I love everything Tom Tryon ever wrote. Does it still count?
  • (5/5)
    What a horrifying story! What a great book!This is the story of what awaits Ned Constantine, his wife Beth, and his daughter Kate after they leave urban life behind and move to the rural Connecticut town of Cornwall Coombe. Its population of individuals, most notably the herbalist Widow Fortune and the postal worker Tamar Penrose, carry out their ancient harvest traditions and festivals, having as their crescendo the rite of Harvest Home, an ancient secret ceremony celebrating the corn harvest and ritually symbolizing earthly renewal. The characters of this story are positively creepy. It turns out that you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys (or gals). I really liked the main character Ned who was an artist. He, at first, saw the beauty of Cornwall Coombe and tried to capture it in his paintings. His intention was to make a better life for his family. Unfortunately, he didn't realize his mistake until too late.If you love taut writing, unpredictable characters, small town settings, and unsettling scenes, you'll appreciate this book. if you have a queasy stomache for grizzly scenes, it might be better to just pass this book along to someone else who finds horror novels entertaining.
  • (5/5)
    Turns out I love this genre to death, even though (just like The Wicker Man) I don't find the story particularly horrific when it's about bad things happening to a main character I just don't like very much. This is a fantastic book, though, and it's a tragedy it's out of print.
  • (3/5)
    A rather dated (and sadly misogynistic) suspense tale, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson's far superior short story "The Lottery" or the horror film The Wicker Man, of sinister traditions brewing behind an isolated, quaintly wholesome rural community.
  • (5/5)
    This book was incredible! It was beautifully written and paced. The story successfully blends mankind's (or perhaps womankind's ) oldest themes with small town New England life- in the most creepy atmosphere possible. A slow burning tale involving a move from the city to a simple country life ruled by the land. These characters, the locals, were multi-layered and fascinating.

    This is an example of why horror literature (that's right, I called it literature!), became so popular in America in the 80's. Authors like Thomas Tryon sparked the imagination of those horror writers that became the mainstream later on, like King or McCammon. Here, you can find the seeds of all that came later. Children of the Corn? It's here. Evil in a small town? It's here.

    Some may find the subject to be dated or the denouement disappointing, but that wasn't the case with me. It was refreshingly, (mostly), gore free, while maintaining a humming level of tension throughout. I sat down and read the last hour and a half straight through. It was a wild ride and I highly recommend it!
  • (2/5)

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

    An artist moves his family to a small Connecticut town, where he discovers horrific secrets behind the quaint harvest rituals.Granted, Harvest Home is a schlocky horror novel published in the 1970s. However, the fear of women expressed in the novel, and the resulting hatred of them, is so palpable that reading it felt icky. I wanted to wash my hands each time I turned the page. The story presents women as unfathomable to men, and ultimately violent toward and oppressive of them. Women are linked to an ancient mother Earth force that imbues them with the power to do whatever they want, despite the objections of some of the male characters. One of the "horrors" of the story is when the male protagonist loses control over his wife and daughter, and they begin acting independently to fulfill their needs and desires. In this book, women are the “other,” portrayed as essentially different and opposed to men, wrong where men are right. This worldview just doesn't do it for me. Women are neither mysterious and unknowable goddesses, nor are they automatons only meant for sex, reproduction and raising children. Furthermore, the "twists" are completely predictable. This book was a disappointing follow-up to The Other.Read for Thanksgiving 2014.

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

  • (4/5)

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

    An exquisite gothic horror story that taps into fertility cult rituals and neo-paganism prominent during the 70s to create a slow-burning but intense rural, gothic horror story. Lyrical and deeply descriptive, the novel demonstrates the author's knack for story-telling, and Tryon weaves a spell-binding but chilling tale.

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

  • (3/5)

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

    Might have given four stars but the first half of the book is very boring, and there is way too much talk about corn.

    Esto le resultó útil a 1 persona

  • (4/5)
    What is going down in the little sleepy Amish-like community? What's with all the fertility rituals? What the hell is going on here? Dread builds as the story unfolds.