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Miriam Colwell was born in Prospect Harbor, Maine, in 1917 and lived for many years in the house built by her great-great-great grandfather in 1817. Along with Contentment Cove, Colwell wrote three other novels, Wind off the Water (1945), Day of the Trumpet (1947), and Young (1955), which earned her attention at the time and prompted the Puckerbrush Review to write, “Everyone who wants to get acquainted with the whole body of Maine literature in the twentieth century should read Miriam Colwell.”
As a resident and long-time postmistress, she watched change upon change wash over the fabled coast for nearly nine decades. She explored those themes in her fourth novel, Contentment Cove, which is set in a Down East coastal village in the 1950s when social clashes and changing values were starting to tear at the fabric of Maine’s traditional way of life.
Originally written by Colwell in the 1950s, the manuscript was set aside and forgotten. Colwell rediscovered it in 2005 and it was soon published in limited release by Constance Hunting, a University of Maine professor and head of Puckerbrush Press. Hunting died in 2006, and the book went out of print almost immediately. The rights were then acquired by Islandport Press, which fast-tracked the book for a widespread release in the spring of 2007.
The observations she would weave into writing—combined with what Maine author Sanford Phippen calls Colwell’s “authentic Down East voice and dry, subtle sense of humor“—shaped her four novels and forged them into a testament of coastal life and change in the 1940s and 1950s. Miriam Colwell passed away in 2014.
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