Based on Caroline Kirkland’s own experiences – and written from a woman’s perspective – [A New Home] narrates with a keen eye and wit the absorbing story of the establishment of the village of Montacute, Michigan. A New Home is a vivid contribution to a new kind of narrative developed during the antebellum period, ethnographic fiction.
Kirkland highlights the importance and the drama of local practices and everyday life in Montacute. She traces the way two groups of settlers slowly adjust to each other – the old hands and the newcomers from the East;. Dramatizing differences of class and culture, she also shows how the groups finally form a genuine community and a new, diverse culture. Kirkland also gives ethnographic fiction an original twist: she satirizes the provincialism and the rigidity of both groups of settlers.
After writing A New Home, Kirkland became a professional literary woman, working as an editor as well as a writer.
A New Home – Who’ll Follow? – by Caroline Mathilda Kirkland – Goodreads entry (this reprint from 1990 has a new introduction by Zara Sagarell)
J. J. Smith’s dissertation entry in the shortstorycycles.com index. The dissertation contains a discussion of A New Home (page 30ff)
“I have in the course of these detached and desultory chapters, hinted at various deficiencies and peculiarities, which strike, with rather unpleasant force, the new resident in the back-woods; but it would require volumes to enumerate all the cases in which the fastidiousness, the taste, the pride, the self-esteem of the refined child of civilization, must be wounded by a familiar intercourse with the persons among whom he will find himself thrown, in the ordinary course of rural life.”