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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: L.M. Montgomery, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 36
1. Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921. 277 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon. In the big living-room at Ingleside Susan Baker sat down with a certain grim satisfaction hovering about her like an aura; it was four o’clock and Susan, who had been working incessantly since six that morning, felt that she had fairly earned an hour of repose and gossip.

Premise/plot: Rilla of Ingleside chronicles "the great war" from the perspective of Rilla Blythe, Anne and Gilbert's youngest child. When the war begins, she's fourteen or so. But she grows up fast, in part because of the war, because of the changes the war brings, how it effects her family and community. And also in part because she takes on more responsibility. She not only does junior red cross work, I believe, but she fosters a 'war baby.' She takes on essentially a newborn baby 'orphaned' by the war. The mother has died. The father is a soldier--who knows where, who may or may not come back. She is to have 'the raising' of the baby to herself. Rilla is especially fond of Walter, her favorite brother, and Ken, the man she hopes to marry one day. The novel provides a behind the scenes glimpse of what daily life was like during the war, during that time period.

My thoughts: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. It's such a solid and strong--and incredibly emotional--finish to a great series.
All cats are mysterious but Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde—”Doc” for short — was trebly so. He was a cat of double personality — or else, as Susan vowed, he was possessed by the devil. To begin with, there had been something uncanny about the very dawn of his existence. 
“The only thing I envy a cat is its purr,” remarked Dr. Blythe once, listening to Doc’s resonant melody. “It is the most contented sound in the world.”
Dog Monday was the Ingleside dog, so called because he had come into the family on a Monday when Walter had been reading Robinson Crusoe. He really belonged to Jem but was much attached to Walter also. He was lying beside Walter now with nose snuggled against his arm, thumping his tail rapturously whenever Walter gave him an absent pat. Monday was not a collie or a setter or a hound or a Newfoundland. He was just, as Jem said, “plain dog” — very plain dog, uncharitable people added. Certainly, Monday’s looks were not his strong point.
“There’s no use thinking about what you’re going to do — you are tolerably sure not to do it.”
The new day is knocking at the window. What will it bring us, I wonder.

“What does it matter if there’s going to be a war over there in Europe? I’m sure it doesn’t concern us.” Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visitations of prophecy. “Before this war is over,” he said — or something said through his lips—”every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it — you, Mary, will feel it — feel it to your heart’s core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come — and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over — years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break.”

“Susan, I keep thinking today of once when he cried for me in the night. He was just a few months old. Gilbert didn’t want me to go to him — he said the child was well and warm and that it would be fostering bad habits in him. But I went — and took him up — I can feel that tight clinging of his little arms round my neck yet. Susan, if I hadn’t gone that night, twenty-one years ago, and taken my baby up when he cried for me I couldn’t face tomorrow morning.”

Nobody missed Dog Monday at first. When they did Shirley went back for him. He found Dog Monday curled up in one of the shipping-sheds near the station and tried to coax him home. Dog Monday would not move. He wagged his tail to show he had no hard feelings but no blandishments availed to budge him. “Guess Monday has made up his mind to wait there till Jem comes back,” said Shirley, trying to laugh as he rejoined the rest.
A baby by day was dreadful enough; a baby by night was unthinkable.
Even the most thoughtful and watchful of parents do not see everything that goes on under their very noses.
I wonder if those of us who have lived half our lives in the old world will ever feel wholly at home in the new.

No matter how much we value what our lessons have brought us we don’t want to go on with the bitter schooling.
“I wonder,” said Miss Oliver, “if humanity will be any happier because of aeroplanes. It seems to me that the sum of human happiness remains much the same from age to age, no matter how it may vary in distribution, and that all the ‘many inventions’ neither lessen nor increase it.”
The job isn’t finished — it isn’t really begun. The old world is destroyed and we must build up the new one. It will be the task of years. 
“Is it Rilla-my-Rilla?” he asked, meaningly. Emotion shook Rilla from head to foot. Joy — happiness — sorrow — fear — every passion that had wrung her heart in those four long years seemed to surge up in her soul for a moment as the deeps of being were stirred. She had tried to speak; at first voice would not come. Then—”Yeth,” said Rilla.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 Comments on Rilla of Ingleside, last added: 12/29/2016
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2. Guest Post: Melanie J. Fishbane, author of Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery, on Earning & Celebrating Success

By Melanie Fishbane
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Confession. I have a difficult time celebrating my success. When it comes to my accomplishments there is a little voice in my head that suggests, as the Kirsty MacColl song goes, “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby.”

Perhaps it is also because my path to publication is a bit unconventional. I couldn’t believe it when I was approached by Lynne Missen of Penguin Canada (now Penguin Random House of Canada) with the possibility of writing a YA novel about my favourite author, L.M. Montgomery.

I hadn’t finished my MFA yet at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I didn’t have an agent (and still don’t), and was still deep in another book that had a mind of its own.

Melanie delivers her graduate lecture at VCFA

What had Lynne seen in my writing that made her think I could do this? Sure, I had been lecturing on L.M. Montgomery at conferences, and had wanted to write historical fiction for kids ever since I learned it was a thing you could do…but there had to be other, way more established authors, who could do this better than I.

Lynne asked me to put together a proposal with an outline and a few sample chapters that would demonstrate my vision for the novel. Three months later, I sent a ten-page proposal and the first forty pages and waited. And waited.

After about a month or so (see, didn’t wait all that long!) I was asked to revise those chapters; I suspect to see how well I took editorial feedback. I went home and worked on the revisions, seeking to prove to Lynne that she hadn’t put her faith in the wrong person, and to myself that this was possible. About a month after that I sent her the revisions. And waited.

After about a month or so (see patience is a practice!) I was given an offer. As I didn’t have an agent, and I think too new to understand that I could have found one to help me negotiate the deal, I hired an entertainment lawyer, who helped me navigate all of those non-writerly things that can make us uncomfortable.

Over the next four and a half years I devoted myself to the book.

I also learned how to trust the process and see the editor as a partner who wanted what was best for me and the book. Lynne allowed me to explore characters and scenes that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, but also asked the right (sometimes annoying) questions, encouraging me to go deeper, find Maud’s character, as well as craft the world in which she would live.

I kept wondering if I was taking too long writing the book, but Lynne assured me that we wanted it to be the best book it could be. So, I trusted her and kept writing.

When the ARC of Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery, arrived on my doorstep a few months ago, there was a little postcard from Lynne congratulating me. And while I couldn’t quite believe that this was my success, I trusted (again) she knew something I didn’t.

Wrapping it in a plastic bag and then a padded computer case (because it was my only copy) I carried it around with me, showing it to people, and stepping into the idea that this was something to be celebrated. That whatever our path to publication is, honor it, hold it close, and then set it free.


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3. Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne of Windy Poplars. L.M. Montgomery. 1936. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence:  DEAREST: Isn't that an address! Did you ever hear anything so delicious? Windy Poplars is the name of my new home and I love it. I also love Spook's Lane, which has no legal existence. It should be Trent Street but it is never called Trent Street except on the rare occasions when it is mentioned in the Weekly Courier . . . and then people look at each other and say, 'Where on earth is that?' Spook's Lane it is . . . although for what reason I cannot tell you. I have already asked Rebecca Dew about it, but all she can say is that it has always been Spook's Lane and there was some old yarn years ago of its being haunted. But she has never seen anything worse-looking than herself in it. 

Premise/plot: Anne and Gilbert are engaged at last! But Gilbert still has three years of school to go, and, so Anne finds herself a job as principal of a school in Summerside. Anne of Windy Poplars gives us an intimate look at those three years. Much of the book provides glimpses into the letters Anne writes Gilbert. But there are some traditional chapters as well.

My thoughts: Anne of Windy Poplars is such a delightful (late) addition to the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery. I love, love, love it. Even if Gilbert himself is absent. (We only see her letters to him, never his letters to her.)

This book showcases what Montgomery does BEST: bring her characters to life. It doesn't seem to matter if we spend two paragraphs with a character or two chapters. I CARE about every character she introduces.

Some of the characters we meet in this one: Aunt Kate, Aunt Chatty, Rebecca Dew, Dusty Miller (cats count as characters, right?!), Little Elizabeth, Nora Nelson, Jim Wilcox, Esme Taylor, Dr. Lennox Carter, Cyrus Taylor, Teddy Armstrong, Lewis Allen, Katherine Brooke, Mrs. Adoniram Gibson and Pauline, Cousin Ernestine Bugle, Jarvis Morrow, Dovie Westcott, Frank Westcott.



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Anne's House of Dreams

Anne's House of Dreams. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: “Thanks be, I’m done with geometry, learning or teaching it,” said Anne Shirley, a trifle vindictively, as she thumped a somewhat battered volume of Euclid into a big chest of books, banged the lid in triumph, and sat down upon it, looking at Diana Wright across the Green Gables garret, with gray eyes that were like a morning sky.

Premise/plot: Anne Shirley marries Gilbert Blythe in this oh-so-lovely, oh-so-charming book by L.M. Montgomery. Technically, it is the sequel to Anne of the Island! Anne of Windy Poplars was written in the 1930s, decades after Anne's House of Dreams. In this Anne book, the happily married couple settle down in their first home together near Four Winds Harbor and Glen St. Mary. 

Anne's House of Dreams introduces many new characters--some of my favorites I admit--Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia, Leslie Moore, Owen Ford. Marshall Elliot. Susan Baker. Who would ever want to forget their stories? Captain Jim's life-book. Leslie Moore's tragic past but enduring spirit. Miss Cornelia. She's got to be one-of-a-kind. Just a truly spirited character with so much heart and full of gumption. Practically everything out of her mouth is quotable. She sure is great at banter!

My thoughts: I love and adore this one!!! I love how emotionally satisfying it is. The Anne books may have sweet moments, but they pack in reality as well. No one can make me cry like L.M. Montgomery.

Quotes: 
“Stoutness and slimness seem to be matters of predestination,” said Anne.
Jane was not brilliant, and had probably never made a remark worth listening to in her life; but she never said anything that would hurt anyone’s feelings — which may be a negative talent but is likewise a rare and enviable one.
“I’ve heard you criticise ministers pretty sharply yourself,” teased Anne. “Yes, but I do it reverently,” protested Mrs. Lynde. “You never heard me NICKNAME a minister.” Anne smothered a smile.
Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid. 
“Miss Cornelia Bryant. She’ll likely be over to see you soon, seeing you’re Presbyterians. If you were Methodists she wouldn’t come at all. Cornelia has a holy horror of Methodists.”
“I know we are going to be friends,” said Anne, with the smile that only they of the household of faith ever saw. “Yes, we are, dearie. Thank goodness, we can choose our friends. We have to take our relatives as they are, and be thankful if there are no penitentiary birds among them. Not that I’ve many — none nearer than second cousins. I’m a kind of lonely soul, Mrs. Blythe.” There was a wistful note in Miss Cornelia’s voice.
“Were you able to eat enough pie to please her?” “I wasn’t. Gilbert won her heart by eating — I won’t tell you how much. She said she never knew a man who didn’t like pie better than his Bible. Do you know, I love Miss Cornelia.”

“Our library isn’t very extensive,” said Anne, “but every book in it is a FRIEND. We’ve picked our books up through the years, here and there, never buying one until we had first read it and knew that it belonged to the race of Joseph.”
A woman cannot ever be sure of not being married till she is buried, Mrs. Doctor, dear, and meanwhile I will make a batch of cherry pies.
“I wonder why people so commonly suppose that if two individuals are both writers they must therefore be hugely congenial,” said Anne, rather scornfully. “Nobody would expect two blacksmiths to be violently attracted toward each other merely because they were both blacksmiths.”
The p’int of good writing is to know when to stop.
There’s only the one safe compass and we’ve got to set our course by that — what it’s right to do.
Logic is a sort of hard, merciless thing, I reckon.
“Since you are determined to be married, Miss Cornelia,” said Gilbert solemnly, “I shall give you the excellent rules for the management of a husband which my grandmother gave my mother when she married my father.” “Well, I reckon I can manage Marshall Elliott,” said Miss Cornelia placidly. “But let us hear your rules.” “The first one is, catch him.” “He’s caught. Go on.” “The second one is, feed him well.” “With enough pie. What next?” “The third and fourth are — keep your eye on him.” “I believe you,” said Miss Cornelia emphatically.
Cats is cats, and take my word for it, they will never be anything else.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Anne of Ingleside

Anne of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1939. 274 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: “How white the moonlight is tonight!” said Anne Blythe to herself, as she went up the walk of the Wright garden to Diana Wright’s front door, where little cherry-blossom petals were coming down on the salty, breeze-stirred air. She paused for a moment to look about her on hills and woods she had loved in olden days and still loved. Dear Avonlea! Glen St. Mary was home to her now and had been home for many years but Avonlea had something that Glen St. Mary could never have. Ghosts of herself met her at every turn . . . the fields she had roamed in welcomed her . . . unfading echoes of the old sweet life were all about her . . . every spot she looked upon had some lovely memory. There were haunted gardens here and there where bloomed all the roses of yesteryear. Anne always loved to come home to Avonlea even when, as now, the reason for her visit had been a sad one. She and Gilbert had come up for the funeral of his father and Anne had stayed for a week.

Premise/plot: Anne and Gilbert have been married over a decade when the book begins. Anne is a mother now, and these are her children: Jem, Walter, Nan and Di, Shirley, and Rilla. (Technically, Rilla is still in womb when the novel opens!) This one has a LOT of narrators. Readers alternate spending time with Anne, Jem, Walter, Nan, Di, and Rilla. (I honestly can't remember if there are any Shirley chapters or not! If there are Shirley chapters, I can't remember one adventure he ever had! I know he's Susan's BABY. But little else!)

My thoughts: I liked this one. I didn't love, love, love it. I'd never consider skipping it in my rereading. It's just not as dear to me as some of the others in the series!

Favorite quotes:
“Do you know that it costs six hundred dollars a year to feed an elephant?” said Gilbert solemnly. “An imaginary elephant doesn’t cost anything,” explained Jem patiently. Anne laughed. “We never need to be economical in our imaginations, thank heaven.”
“A hand-me-down cap is bound to fit somebody’s head but it doesn’t follow that it was made for him.” 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was a clear, apple-green evening in May, and Four Winds Harbour was mirroring back the clouds of the golden west between its softly dark shores.

Premise/plot: Rainbow Valley is about the Blythe children and their best friends, the Meredith children. The Merediths are in interesting bunch! The father is a Presbyterian minister. The mother is dead and very much missed. The children are wild and wonderful. Over half the book centers on the adventures of Jerry, Faith, Una, and Carl. The other half focuses on the Blythe children: Jem, Walter, Nan and Di, Shirley, and Rilla. 

Why you should still read it even though it isn't about Anne: Montgomery is a great storyteller who excels at characterization. The Meredith children, particularly Faith, are great characters to spend time with. Mary Vance is another LIVELY character. Love her or hate her, you can't forget her! This one also has some lovely scenes with Walter about the 'Pied Piper' he hears calling in Rainbow Valley. Reading Rainbow Valley deepens the bond you feel for certain characters. The memories the two families create and share in Rainbow Valley--the place--are important in Rilla of Ingleside. Rilla of Ingleside is not to be missed. It is one of the BEST in the series.

My thoughts: I really loved the courtship in this one of the children's father!!! It was super-sweet and fun. I love this book not so much for its connection to Anne, as it is I just LOVE L.M. Montgomery in general. She's a wonderful writer whose birthday is very close to my own!


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Sunday Salon: Reading Rilla of Ingleside (1921)

Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921. 280 pages.

IT was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon. In the big living-room at Ingleside Susan Baker sat down with a certain grim satisfaction hovering about her like an aura; it was four o'clock and Susan, who had been working incessantly since six that morning, felt that she had fairly earned an hour of repose and gossip. 

 I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Rilla of Ingleside. It is beautiful, heartbreaking, wonderful, memorable, and compelling. It is everything it should be. It closely follows World War I--from the Canadian home front; and at times it shows just how ugly and frightening war can be. It's a patriotic novel, however. Rilla of Ingleside is also an unforgettable coming of age story. Readers watch Rilla mature from a laughter-loving fourteen year old girl into a strong, resilient young woman ready for life and love. This is Rilla's story from cover to cover. Rilla is forced to say goodbye to three brothers (Jem, Walter, Shirley), two childhood friends (Jerry, Carl), and her young love (Kenneth Ford) as they go off to war and uncertain futures. And she has to do with a smile on her face and no tears. Will she ever see any of them again? Will they return whole? Will life ever be the same for any of them again?

But Rilla is ever-busy. Not only is she doing work for the Red-Cross, she's adopted a war orphan! Though she's just fourteen, this young baby boy will be HER responsibility. For Rilla who has never really "liked" babies or found them cute and adorable, this is a challenge...at least at first. But as he starts to grow and change...her heart melts.  

My favorite characters were Rilla, Susan Baker, Walter, Miss Oliver, and Dog Monday. If you've read this one, don't you agree that the Dog Monday parts are incredibly moving?

From chapter one:
There was a big, black headline on the front page of the Enterprise, stating that some Archduke Ferdinand or other had been assassinated at a place bearing the weird name of Sarajevo, but Susan tarried not over uninteresting, immaterial stuff like that; she was in quest of something really vital.
Well, that is all the notes and there is not much else in the paper of any importance. I never take much interest in foreign parts. Who is this Archduke man who has been murdered?" "What does it matter to us?" asked Miss Cornelia, unaware of the hideous answer to her question which destiny was even then preparing. "Somebody is always murdering or being murdered in those Balkan States. It's their normal condition and I don't really think that our papers ought to print such shocking things. 
Wherever Rilla Blythe was, there was laughter.  
There was another occupant of the living-room, curled up on a couch, who must not be overlooked, since he was a creature of marked individuality, and, moreover, had the distinction of being the only living thing whom Susan really hated. All cats are mysterious but Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde–"Doc" for short–were trebly so. He was a cat of double personality–or else, as Susan vowed, he was possessed by the devil. To begin with, there had been something uncanny about the very dawn of his existence. Four years previously Rilla Blythe had had a treasured darling of a kitten, white as snow, with a saucy black tip to its tail, which she called Jack Frost. Susan disliked Jack Frost, though she could not or would not give any valid reason therefor.
"Take my word for it, Mrs. Dr. dear," she was wont to say ominously, "that cat will come to no good."
"But why do you think so?" Mrs. Blythe would ask.
"I do not think–I know," was all the answer Susan would vouchsafe.
"The only thing I envy a cat is its purr," remarked Dr. Blythe once, listening to Doc's resonant melody. "It is the most contented sound in the world."
Rilla is the only one of my flock who isn't ambitious. I really wish she had a little more ambition. She has no serious ideals at all–her sole aspiration seems to be to have a good time.
 From chapter two,
Rilla was the "baby" of the Blythe family and was in a chronic state of secret indignation because nobody believed she was grown up. She was so nearly fifteen that she called herself that, and she was quite as tall as Di and Nan; also, she was nearly as pretty as Susan believed her to be. She had great, dreamy, hazel eyes, a milky skin dappled with little golden freckles, and delicately arched eyebrows, giving her a demure, questioning look which made people, especially lads in their teens, want to answer it. Her hair was ripely, ruddily brown and a little dent in her upper lip looked as if some good fairy had pressed it in with her finger at Rilla's christening. Rilla, whose best friends could not deny her share of vanity, thought her face would do very well, but worried over her figure, and wished her mother could be prevailed upon to let her wear longer dresses. She, who had been so plump and roly-poly in the old Rainbow Valley days, was incredibly slim now, in the arms-and-legs period. Jem and Shirley harrowed her soul by calling her "Spider." Yet she somehow escaped awkwardness. There was something in her movements that made you think she never walked but always danced. She had been much petted and was a wee bit spoiled, but still the general opinion was that Rilla Blythe was a very sweet girl, even if she were not so clever as Nan and Di.
Rilla loved Walter with all her heart. He never teased her as Jem and Shirley did. He never called her "Spider." His pet name for her was "Rilla-my-Rilla"a little pun on her real name, Marilla...
 Dog Monday was the Ingleside dog, so called because he had come into the family on a Monday when Walter had been reading Robinson Crusoe. He really belonged to Jem but was much attached to Walter also. He was lying beside Walter now with nose snuggled against his arm, thumping his tail rapturously whenever Walter gave him a pat. Monday was not a collie or a setter or a hound or a Newfoundland. He was just, as Jem said, "plain dog"very plain dog, uncharitable people added. Certainly, Monday's looks were not his strong point. Black spots were scattered at random over his yellow carcass, one of them blotting out an eye. His ears were in tatters, for Monday was never successful in affairs of honour. But he possessed one talisman. He knew that not all dogs could be handsome or eloquent or victorious, but that every dog could love. Inside his homely hide beat the most affectionate, loyal, faithful heart of any dog since dogs were; and something looked out of his brown eyes that was nearer akin to a soul than any theologian would allow. Everybody at Ingleside was fond of him, even Susan.
"There's plenty of time for you to be grown up, Rilla. Don't wish your youth away. It goes too quickly. You'll begin to taste life soon enough."
"Taste life! I want to eat it," cried Rilla, laughing. "I want everything–everything a girl can have. I'll be fifteen in another month, and then nobody can say I'm a child any longer. I heard someone say once that the years from fifteen to nineteen are the best years in a girl's life. I'm going to make them perfectly splendid–just fill them with fun."
"There's no use thinking about what you're going to do–you are tolerably sure not to do it."
"Oh, but you do get a lot of fun out of the thinking," cried Rilla.
"You think of nothing but fun, you monkey," said Miss Oliver indulgently, reflecting that Rilla's chin was really the last word in chins. "Well, what else is fifteen for?"
From chapter three,
"The new day is knocking at the window. What will it bring us, I wonder.... "I think the nicest thing about days is their unexpectedness," went on Rilla. "It's jolly to wake up like this on a golden-fine morning and day-dream for ten minutes before I get up, imagining the heaps of splendid things that may happen before night."


© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Blogging Advice from L.M. Montgomery

Two years is about long enough for things to stay exactly the same. If they stayed put any longer they might grow mossy. ~ Anne of Avonlea

If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us, don't you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful thing in the world. ~ Anne of Avonlea

It is never pleasant to have our old shrines desecrated, even when we have outgrown them. ~ Anne of the Island

We mustn't let next week rob us of this week's joy. ~ Anne of the Island

But FEELING is so different from KNOWING. ~ Anne of the Island

We are never half so interesting when we have learned that language is given us to enable us to conceal our thoughts. ~ Anne of the Island

Experience teaches sense. ~ Anne of the Island

When you've learned to laugh at the things that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn't, you've got wisdom and understanding. ~ Anne of the Island

But a few italics really do relieve your feelings. ~ Anne of Windy Poplars

One can always find something lovely to look at or listen to ~ Anne of Windy Poplars

Are there, or are there not, two 'c's' in recommend'? In spite of the fact that I am a B.A. I can never be certain. ~ Anne of the Island

Somebody else's experience can never be yours. ~ Blue Castle

Oh, if I could only put things into words as I see them! Mr. Carpenter says, 'Strive--strive--keep on--words are your medium--make them your slaves--until they will say for you what you want them to say.' That is true--and I do try--but it seems to me there is something beyond words--any words--all words--something that always escapes you when you try to grasp it--and yet leaves something in your hand which you wouldn't have had if you hadn't reached for it.  ~ Emily Climbs

Well, it all comes to this, there's no use trying to live in other people's opinions. The only thing to do is to live in your own. ~ Emily Climbs

Don't let a three-o'clock-at-night feeling fog your soul. ~ Emily's Quest

There is always such a fascinating expectancy and uncertainty about the mail. ~ Emily's Quest

However, I feel much better now than when I began this entry. I've got quite a bit of resentment and rebellion and discouragement out of my system. That's the chief use of a diary, I believe. ~ Emily's Quest

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. It Was a Dark and Stormy Night ...

I recently finished reading the classic book "Wrinkle in Time" with my eight-year-old. It begins with the famous—and much maligned—line, "It was a dark and stormy night ..."

Writers look down on this opening phrase as being "obvious" and "too moody." It has been the butt of jokes from "Throw Momma from the Train" to Peanuts comics. But I'd like to write a brief defense of Madelaine L'Engle's linguistic choice as well as take a look at what makes descriptions work ... or not work.

L'Engle's phrase, at its most basic, does, indeed, set a tone for the book. And it describes the intensity that the character Meg feels. It also foreshadows the "dark"/sinister beings the characters will encounter, as well as the darkness through which the characters travel during their cross-planetary adventure. So I think that mentioning a "dark night" is thematic and relevant to L'Engle's whole book; she writes it as a fight between love and "the dark."

So what about the complaint that to describe night as dark is too obvious? I would argue that there are all kinds of nights. There are nights that seem like a faint orange hue hangs between the greenness of piled snow and heavy-set clouds. There are purple nights. There are also cold bright nights when the sky is clear and the moon shines like a shadeless pendant bulb.

And yes, there are stormy nights when the darkness seems to swallow up every detail out of reach, as though a cocoon of black velvet envelopes you: a dark and stormy night.

But these days, readers want more than that. We expect writers to paint with words in a more extraordinary way.

On the other hand, overly long or beatific descriptions are considered passé: Flip to almost any page in the classic "Anne of Green Gables" series and you'll find paragraphs of detail like: "a veritable apple-bearing tree, here in the very midst of pines and beeches ... all white with blossom. It's loaded [with apples]—tawny as russets but with a dusky red cheek. Most wild seedlings are green and uninviting."

While most of us still appreciate (and even love) L.M. Montgomery's lengthy stylistic descriptions for its time, these days such florid language is considered "purple prose."

Needless to say, descriptions can make or break even the best concepts and plots. Writers need not only to be gifted storytellers, but word makers and image creators of a new bent.

One author who excels in this is Mark Zusack. Consider some of these images from "The Book Thief":

  • a short grin was smiled in Papa's spoon
  • one [book] was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon
  • empty hat-stand trees
  • the gun clipped a hole in the night
  • the summer of '39 was in a hurry
  • the smell of friendship
  • [the] crackling sound ... was kinetic humans, flowing, charging up
Zusak has an uncanny ability to describe. A grin is offered up as if it is a picture from a film director's storyboard. A sound is described using imagery. A feeling is described as a scent. Ideas are personified and people are chemicals.

So think well when you are describing. Go over your story and take the time to find new ways to bring imagery to your reader. And keep it somewhere between "purple" and "dark and stormy."

Do you have a favorite metaphor or simile? Share it below!

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10. L.M Montgomery Short Stories 1905-1906

Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906. Dodo Press. 260 pages. [Source: Bought]

There are thirty-one short stories in this L.M. Montgomery collection. There are some great stories within this collection. There are some not-so-great stories within this collection. The quality definitely varies story to story. But if you already love L.M. Montgomery, it's well worth reading. If you're never read her, however, this may not be the best introduction. True, you'd probably find something to like, to enjoy, maybe even love. But would it persuade you to seek out EVERYTHING she's ever written because she's oh-so-amazing?! Probably not. It's good to keep in mind that these short stories were published several years before her novels. (Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908).

There are two stories that are tied for being my favorite-favorite in this collection: "Aunt Susanna's Birthday Celebration" and "The Understanding of Sister Sara." Both stories are about lovers' quarrels being resolved with a little outside help.

Previous short story collections I've reviewed:
  1. L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1896-1901. L.M. Montgomery. 142 pages.
  2. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903. L.M. Montgomery. 216 pages.
  3. L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1904. L.M. Montgomery. Dodo Press. 144 pages.
These stories are included in Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906
  • A Correspondence and a Climax
  • An Adventure On Island Rock
  • At Five O'Clock in the Morning
  • Aunt Susanna's Birthday Celebration
  • Bertie's New Year
  • Between the Hill and the Valley
  • Clorinda's Gifts
  • Cyrilla's Inspiration
  • Dorinda's Desperate Deed
  • Her Own People
  • Ida's New Year Cake
  • In the Old Valley
  • Jane Lavinia
  • Mackereling Out in the Gulf
  • Millicent's Double
  • The Blue North Room
  • The Christmas Surprise at Enderly Road
  • The Dissipation of Miss Ponsonby
  • The Falsoms' Christmas Dinner
  • The Fraser Scholarship
  • The Girl at the Gate
  • The Light on the Big Dipper
  • The Prodigal Brother
  • The Redemption of John Churchill
  • The Schoolmaster's Letters
  • The Understanding of Sister Sara
  • The Unforgotten One
  • The Wooing of Bessy
  • Their Girl Josie
  • When Jack and Jill Took a Hand 
If you're looking for a good short story to perhaps read on its own, I'd recommend:
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Beloved Books to Inspire 12-Year-Olds | Shared by Author K.E. Ormsbee

"These stories kept me up way past my bedtime and still hold places of honor on my bookshelf."

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12. Anne of Green Gables (1908)

Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought]

I plan on rereading all the Anne books this year. I definitely wanted Anne of Green Gables to be one of the first books I read--or reread this year. It is such a dear favorite of mine. I couldn't begin to give an accurate accounting of just how many times I've read it. Out of all the Anne books, I think I love the first and last best of all. I think it only right that you begin and end the series in tears.

Anne of Green Gables introduces readers to Anne Shirley, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, Rachel Lynde, Diana Barry, and Gilbert Blythe. And that's just naming a few. By the time you've read and reread this one a couple of times, the whole community seems to come alive.

The absolute basics: Anne Shirley is an eleven year old orphan who arrives in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Marilla and Matthew are a brother-and-sister looking to adopt...a boy. Earlier miscommunication ultimately leads our heroine, young Ann-with-an-e, to the depths of despair. But Matthew, even before he arrives back at Green Gables with Anne, has decided HE WANTS TO KEEP HER FOREVER AND EVER. Marilla is not ready to say "yes" that quickly. Though as you might predict, she does end up keeping her...and loving her dearly.

The book relates to readers her adventures and misadventures. There is never a dull moment because our heroine never makes the same mistake twice. Here are a few additional characters you should know:
  
Diana Barry is Anne's bosom friend. These two are inseparable from their first meeting on. The two are not all that alike, but, they get along so splendidly. Anne forgives Diana her lack of imagination as I would imagine most readers do as well.

Gilbert Blythe is swoon-worthy. Wait, that's me talking. Gilbert is technically the cutest boy in Avonlea. When he first sees Anne, he calls her "Carrots." He desperately wants her attention. But he ends up making an enemy. Anne may forgive Diana her lack of imagination, but, she won't forgive the oh-so-cute boy who called her CARROTS. For most of the book, these two are academic rivals.

Rachel Lynde is Marilla's best friend, for better or worse, and without a doubt the town's biggest gossip. Her first impression of Anne is quickly replaced with a much nicer one after Anne apologizes beautifully. Rachel has a 'soft spot' for Anne, and is, in fact, the one who sews up Anne's first dress with puffed sleeves.

The book is written from multiple points of view. Readers get to know Anne, of course, but also Matthew and Marilla. (The first chapter is told from Rachel Lynde's point of view.) I didn't really pay much attention to how much Marilla we get in this first book in the series until I was an adult. But in many ways, this is Marilla's "coming of age" story just as much as it is Anne's.

Quotes:
The long platform was almost deserted; the only living creature in sight being a girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew, barely noting that it WAS a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at her. Had he looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and expression. She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and waited with all her might and main.
A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others. 
"Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.” 
But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.” “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. “Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. 
It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?
“Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed. “No.” “Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss — Marilla, how much you miss!”
Somehow, things never are so good when they’re thought out a second time.
“Saying one’s prayers isn’t exactly the same thing as praying,” said Anne meditatively. 
Boiled pork and greens are so unromantic when one is in affliction. 
Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one. 
“I think your Gilbert Blythe IS handsome,” confided Anne to Diana, “but I think he’s very bold. It isn’t good manners to wink at a strange girl.” But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen. 
Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She SHOULD look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school. Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper: “Carrots! Carrots!” Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance! She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears. “You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!” 
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill — several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.” 
I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color. 
Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won’t allow myself to open that new book Jane lent me until I’m through. But it’s a terrible temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book that makes me cry. But I think I’ll carry that book into the sitting room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And you must NOT give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if I implore you on my bended knees. It’s all very well to say resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you can’t get the key. 
You didn’t know just how I felt about it, but you see Matthew did. Matthew understands me, and it’s so nice to be understood, Marilla. 
“It’s because you’re too heedless and impulsive, child, that’s what. You never stop to think — whatever comes into your head to say or do you say or do it without a moment’s reflection.” “Oh, but that’s the best of it,” protested Anne. “Something just flashes into your mind, so exciting, and you must out with it. If you stop to think it over you spoil it all. Haven’t you never felt that yourself, Mrs. Lynde?”
When Miss Barry went away she said: “Remember, you Anne-girl, when you come to town you’re to visit me and I’ll put you in my very sparest spare-room bed to sleep.” “Miss Barry was a kindred spirit, after all,” Anne confided to Marilla. “You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. You don’t find it right out at first, as in Matthew’s case, but after a while you come to see it. Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.
“Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just when you especially want them to be good,” sighed Anne.
“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” “I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla.
Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect. But don’t you think the trying so hard ought to count for something?
It isn’t very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You find out how many friends you have.
Mrs. Allan says we should never make uncharitable speeches; but they do slip out so often before you think, don’t they? I simply can’t talk about Josie Pye without making an uncharitable speech, so I never mention her at all. You may have noticed that. I’m trying to be as much like Mrs. Allan as I possibly can, for I think she’s perfect.
“Isn’t this evening just like a purple dream, Diana? It makes me so glad to be alive. In the mornings I always think the mornings are best; but when evening comes I think it’s lovelier still.”
Mr. Allan says everybody should have a purpose in life and pursue it faithfully. Only he says we must first make sure that it is a worthy purpose. I would call it a worthy purpose to want to be a teacher like Miss Stacy, wouldn’t you, Marilla? I think it’s a very noble profession.
Why can’t women be ministers, Marilla? I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She said there might be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank goodness we hadn’t got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we never would. But I don’t see why. I think women would make splendid ministers. When there is a social to be got up or a church tea or anything else to raise money the women have to turn to and do the work. I’m sure Mrs. Lynde can pray every bit as well as Superintendent Bell and I’ve no doubt she could preach too with a little practice.” “Yes, I believe she could,” said Marilla dryly. “She does plenty of unofficial preaching as it is. Nobody has much of a chance to go wrong in Avonlea with Rachel to oversee them.”
There are so many things to be thought over and decided when you’re beginning to grow up. It keeps me busy all the time thinking them over and deciding what is right. It’s a serious thing to grow up, isn’t it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends as you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up successfully, and I’m sure it will be my own fault if I don’t.
As Mrs. Lynde says, ‘If you can’t be cheerful, be as cheerful as you can.’
It’s good advice, but I expect it will be hard to follow; good advice is apt to be, I think.
“No, I wasn’t crying over your piece,” said Marilla, who would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff. “I just couldn’t help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You’ve grown up now and you’re going away; and you look so tall and stylish and so — so — different altogether in that dress — as if you didn’t belong in Avonlea at all — and I just got lonesome thinking it all over.”
It won’t make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life.
“Wouldn’t Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them — that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
“That Anne-girl improves all the time,” she said. “I get tired of other girls — there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them. Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts. I don’t know that she is as amusing as she was when she was a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them.”
For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement. 
“Well now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne,” said Matthew patting her hand. “Just mind you that — rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl — my girl — my girl that I’m proud of.” He smiled his shy smile at her as he went into the yard. Anne took the memory of it with her when she went to her room that night and sat for a long while at her open window, thinking of the past and dreaming of the future. 
It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it. 
Marilla, I’ve almost decided to give up trying to like Josie Pye. I’ve made what I would once have called a heroic effort to like her, but Josie Pye won’t BE liked. 
When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes — what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows — what new landscapes — what new beauties — what curves and hills and valleys further on. 
“Dear old world,” she murmured, “you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 
“‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,’” whispered Anne softly. softly. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Anne of Avonlea (1909)

Anne of Avonlea. L.M. Montgomery. 1909. 304 pages. [Bought]

Do I love Anne of Avonlea? I do. I really do. True, I often forget about it being among my favorites because it isn't the first or the last. And it isn't the one with the giddy-making proposal between Anne and Gilbert. But the fact that this sequel to Anne of Green Gables is so very, very good says something about Montgomery's talents.

Highlights of Anne of Avonlea:
  • Anne begins her first job--teaching in Avonlea; it is rewarding, sometimes; exhausting, almost always.
  • Anne discovers an unlikely kindred spirit in Mr. Harrison, her neighbor; she does NOT love his parrot.
  • Anne becomes the best of friends with Gilbert Blythe
  • Anne and her friends form a club, A.V.I.S. (Avonlea Village Improvement Society); they don't always "improve" the village.
  • Anne becomes a big sister; Marilla adopts TWINS: Davy and Dora
  • Anne becomes especially close to one of her pupils, Paul Irving
  • Anne becomes quite chummy with Miss Lavendar and Charlotte the Fourth
  • Love is in the air! No, Gilbert and Anne don't say I love you. But Diana does become engaged to Fred; and Miss Lavendar marries her sweetheart after several decades apart! 

This book has several things in abundance: JOY and LAUGHTER. (Well, I guess the exception being when Thomas (Rachel's husband) dies. But still.) It is just a lively, delightful, funny read. It is also oh-so-quotable!
If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us, don’t you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful thing in the world.
What is an imagination for if not to enable you to peep at life through other people’s eyes? 
It’s a very bad habit to put off disagreeable things, and I never mean to again, or else I can’t comfortably tell my pupils not to do it. That would be inconsistent. 
“Davy Keith, don’t you know that it is very wrong of you to be eating that jam, when you were told never to meddle with anything in THAT closet?” “Yes, I knew it was wrong,” admitted Davy uncomfortably, “but plum jam is awful nice, Anne. I just peeped in and it looked so good I thought I’d take just a weeny taste. I stuck my finger in . . .” Anne groaned . . . “and licked it clean. And it was so much gooder than I’d ever thought that I got a spoon and just SAILED IN.”
“Anyhow, there’ll be plenty of jam in heaven, that’s one comfort,” he said complacently. Anne nipped a smile in the bud. “Perhaps there will . . . if we want it,” she said, “But what makes you think so?” “Why, it’s in the catechism,” said Davy. “Oh, no, there is nothing like THAT in the catechism, Davy.” “But I tell you there is,” persisted Davy. “It was in that question Marilla taught me last Sunday. ‘Why should we love God?’ It says, ‘Because He makes preserves, and redeems us.’
Well, I’m doing my best to grow,” said Davy, “but it’s a thing you can’t hurry much. If Marilla wasn’t so stingy with her jam I believe I’d grow a lot faster.” 
“Anne,” said Davy, sitting up in bed and propping his chin on his hands, “Anne, where is sleep? People go to sleep every night, and of course I know it’s the place where I do the things I dream, but I want to know WHERE it is and how I get there and back without knowing anything about it . . . and in my nighty too. Where is it?” 
“Some are born old maids, some achieve old maidenhood, and some have old maidenhood thrust upon them,” parodied Miss Lavendar whimsically. “You are one of those who have achieved it then,” laughed Anne, “and you’ve done it so beautifully that if every old maid were like you they would come into the fashion, I think.”

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Anne of the Island

Anne of the Island. L.M. Montgomery. 1915. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

“Harvest is ended and summer is gone,” quoted Anne Shirley, gazing across the shorn fields dreamily. She and Diana Barry had been picking apples in the Green Gables orchard, but were now resting from their labors in a sunny corner, where airy fleets of thistledown drifted by on the wings of a wind that was still summer-sweet with the incense of ferns in the Haunted Wood.

I love Anne of the Island. It isn't my absolute favorite of the series, but, it is oh-so-good. In this one Anne goes away to college, makes new friends, receives a handful of marriage proposals, and corresponds with folks from Avonlea.

Anne does mature, but, in some ways it is slow in coming. Particularly in terms of her seeing the obvious: Gilbert is her soul mate. But perhaps because it is so long in coming, it makes for quite a satisfying conclusion.

The best way to show you how much I adore this one, is perhaps to share my favorite quotes:

Great one-liners...
It is never pleasant to have our old shrines desecrated, even when we have outgrown them.
We mustn’t let next week rob us of this week’s joy.
But FEELING is so different from KNOWING. My common sense tells me all you can say, but there are times when common sense has no power over me. Common nonsense takes possession of my soul.
Exaggeration is merely a flight of poetic fancy. 
Facts are stubborn things, but as some one has wisely said, not half so stubborn as fallacies. 
“All life lessons are not learned at college,” she thought. “Life teaches them everywhere.”
We are never half so interesting when we have learned that language is given us to enable us to conceal our thoughts.
“People who send word they are coming on Saturday shouldn’t come on Friday,” said Aunt Jamesina.
“Words aren’t made — they grow,” said Anne.
“Will you please define what gumption is, Aunt Jimsie?” asked Phil. “No, I won’t, young woman. Any one who has gumption knows what it is, and any one who hasn’t can never know what it is. So there is no need of defining it.”
Fun with Anne:
Talk of being lonesome! It’s I who should groan. YOU’LL be here with any number of your old friends — AND Fred! While I shall be alone among strangers, not knowing a soul!” “EXCEPT Gilbert — AND Charlie Sloane,” said Diana, imitating Anne’s italics and slyness. “Charlie Sloane will be a great comfort, of course,” agreed Anne sarcastically; whereupon both those irresponsible damsels laughed. Diana knew exactly what Anne thought of Charlie Sloane; but, despite sundry confidential talks, she did not know just what Anne thought of Gilbert Blythe.
“Miss Ada’s cushions are really getting on my nerves,” said Anne. “She finished two new ones last week, stuffed and embroidered within an inch of their lives. There being absolutely no other cushionless place to put them she stood them up against the wall on the stair landing. They topple over half the time and if we come up or down the stairs in the dark we fall over them. Last Sunday, when Dr. Davis prayed for all those exposed to the perils of the sea, I added in thought ‘and for all those who live in houses where cushions are loved not wisely but too well!’ There! we’re ready, and I see the boys coming through Old St. John’s. Do you cast in your lot with us, Phil?”
“You LOVE it,” said Miss Patty with emphasis. “Does that mean that you really LOVE it? Or that you merely like the looks of it? The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one never can tell what they DO mean. It wasn’t so in my young days. THEN a girl did not say she LOVED turnips, in just the same tone as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior.” Anne’s conscience bore her up. “I really do love it,” she said gently. “I’ve loved it ever since I saw it last fall. My two college chums and I want to keep house next year instead of boarding, so we are looking for a little place to rent; and when I saw that this house was to let I was so happy.”
“No, I shall never try to write a story again,” declared Anne, with the hopeless finality of nineteen when a door is shut in its face. “I wouldn’t give up altogether,” said Mr. Harrison reflectively. “I’d write a story once in a while, but I wouldn’t pester editors with it. I’d write of people and places like I knew, and I’d make my characters talk everyday English; and I’d let the sun rise and set in the usual quiet way without much fuss over the fact. If I had to have villains at all, I’d give them a chance, Anne — I’d give them a chance. There are some terrible bad men in the world, I suppose, but you’d have to go a long piece to find them — though Mrs. Lynde believes we’re all bad. But most of us have got a little decency somewhere in us. Keep on writing, Anne.”
Trotting along behind her, close to her heels, was quite the most forlorn specimen of the cat tribe she had ever beheld. The animal was well past kitten-hood, lank, thin, disreputable looking. Pieces of both ears were lacking, one eye was temporarily out of repair, and one jowl ludicrously swollen. As for color, if a once black cat had been well and thoroughly singed the result would have resembled the hue of this waif’s thin, draggled, unsightly fur. Anne “shooed,” but the cat would not “shoo.” As long as she stood he sat back on his haunches and gazed at her reproachfully out of his one good eye; when she resumed her walk he followed. Anne resigned herself to his company until she reached the gate of Patty’s Place, which she coldly shut in his face, fondly supposing she had seen the last of him. But when, fifteen minutes later, Phil opened the door, there sat the rusty-brown cat on the step. More, he promptly darted in and sprang upon Anne’s lap with a half-pleading, half-triumphant “miaow.” “Anne,” said Stella severely, “do you own that animal?” “No, I do NOT,” protested disgusted Anne. “The creature followed me home from somewhere. I couldn’t get rid of him. Ugh, get down. I like decent cats reasonably well; but I don’t like beasties of your complexion.” Pussy, however, refused to get down. He coolly curled up in Anne’s lap and began to purr. “He has evidently adopted you,” laughed Priscilla. “I won’t BE adopted,” said Anne stubbornly.
“It seems funny and horrible to think of Diana’s being married,” sighed Anne, hugging her knees and looking through the gap in the Haunted Wood to the light that was shining in Diana’s room. “I don’t see what’s horrible about it, when she’s doing so well,” said Mrs. Lynde emphatically. “Fred Wright has a fine farm and he is a model young man.” “He certainly isn’t the wild, dashing, wicked, young man Diana once wanted to marry,” smiled Anne. “Fred is extremely good.” “That’s just what he ought to be. Would you want Diana to marry a wicked man? Or marry one yourself?” “Oh, no. I wouldn’t want to marry anybody who was wicked, but I think I’d like it if he COULD be wicked and WOULDN’T.

Fun with Davy
“When I’m grown up I’m not going to do one single thing I don’t want to do, Anne.” “All your life, Davy, you’ll find yourself doing things you don’t want to do.” 
“But if you DID want to catch a man how would you go about it? I want to know,” persisted Davy, for whom the subject evidently possessed a certain fascination. “You’d better ask Mrs. Boulter,” said Anne thoughtlessly. “I think it’s likely she knows more about the process than I do.” “I will, the next time I see her,” said Davy gravely. “Davy! If you do!” cried Anne, realizing her mistake. “But you just told me to,” protested Davy aggrieved. 
Dear anne, please write and tell marilla not to tie me to the rale of the bridge when I go fishing the boys make fun of me when she does. Its awful lonesome here without you but grate fun in school. Jane andrews is crosser than you. I scared mrs. lynde with a jacky lantern last nite. She was offel mad and she was mad cause I chased her old rooster round the yard till he fell down ded. I didn’t mean to make him fall down ded. What made him die, anne, I want to know. mrs. lynde threw him into the pig pen she mite of sold him to mr. blair. mr. blair is giving 50 sense apeace for good ded roosters now. I herd mrs. lynde asking the minister to pray for her. What did she do that was so bad, anne, I want to know. 
“I — I want to say a bad word, Anne,” blurted out Davy, with a desperate effort. “I heard Mr. Harrison’s hired boy say it one day last week, and ever since I’ve been wanting to say it ALL the time — even when I’m saying my prayers.” “Say it then, Davy.” Davy lifted his flushed face in amazement. “But, Anne, it’s an AWFUL bad word.” “SAY IT!” Davy gave her another incredulous look, then in a low voice he said the dreadful word. The next minute his face was burrowing against her. “Oh, Anne, I’ll never say it again — never. I’ll never WANT to say it again. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t s’pose it was so — so — I didn’t s’pose it was like THAT.” “No, I don’t think you’ll ever want to say it again, Davy — or think it, either. And I wouldn’t go about much with Mr. Harrison’s hired boy if I were you.” “He can make bully war-whoops,” said Davy a little regretfully. “But you don’t want your mind filled with bad words, do you, Davy — words that will poison it and drive out all that is good and manly?” “No,” said Davy, owl-eyed with introspection. “Then don’t go with those people who use them. And now do you feel as if you could say your prayers, Davy?”
“Our new teacher is a man. He does things for jokes. Last week he made all us third-class boys write a composishun on what kind of a wife we’d like to have and the girls on what kind of a husband. He laughed fit to kill when he read them. This was mine. I thought youd like to see it. “‘The kind of a wife I’d like to Have. “‘She must have good manners and get my meals on time and do what I tell her and always be very polite to me. She must be fifteen yers old. She must be good to the poor and keep her house tidy and be good tempered and go to church regularly. She must be very handsome and have curly hair. If I get a wife that is just what I like Ill be an awful good husband to her. I think a woman ought to be awful good to her husband. Some poor women haven’t any husbands. “‘THE END.’”
Mrs. Lynde was awful mad the other day because I asked her if she was alive in Noah’s time. I dident mean to hurt her feelings. I just wanted to know. Was she, Anne?
The new minister was here to tea last night. He took three pieces of pie. If I did that Mrs. Lynde would call me piggy. And he et fast and took big bites and Marilla is always telling me not to do that. Why can ministers do what boys can’t? I want to know.
The mention of age evidently gave a new turn to Davy’s thoughts for after a few moments of reflection, he whispered solemnly: “Anne, I’m going to be married.” “When?” asked Anne with equal solemnity. “Oh, not until I’m grown-up, of course.” “Well, that’s a relief, Davy. Who is the lady?” “Stella Fletcher; she’s in my class at school. And say, Anne, she’s the prettiest girl you ever saw. If I die before I grow up you’ll keep an eye on her, won’t you?” “Davy Keith, do stop talking such nonsense,” said Marilla severely. 

Fun with Mrs. Lynde:
Mrs. Lynde’s letter was full of church news. Having broken up housekeeping, Mrs. Lynde had more time than ever to devote to church affairs and had flung herself into them heart and soul. She was at present much worked up over the poor “supplies” they were having in the vacant Avonlea pulpit. “I don’t believe any but fools enter the ministry nowadays,” she wrote bitterly. “Such candidates as they have sent us, and such stuff as they preach! Half of it ain’t true, and, what’s worse, it ain’t sound doctrine. The one we have now is the worst of the lot. He mostly takes a text and preaches about something else. And he says he doesn’t believe all the heathen will be eternally lost. The idea! If they won’t all the money we’ve been giving to Foreign Missions will be clean wasted, that’s what! Last Sunday night he announced that next Sunday he’d preach on the axe-head that swam. I think he’d better confine himself to the Bible and leave sensational subjects alone. Things have come to a pretty pass if a minister can’t find enough in Holy Writ to preach about, that’s what.
“Poor Atossa laid in her coffin peaceful enough,” said Mrs. Lynde solemnly. “I never saw her look so pleasant before, that’s what. Well, there weren’t many tears shed over her, poor old soul. The Elisha Wrights are thankful to be rid of her, and I can’t say I blame them a mite.” “It seems to me a most dreadful thing to go out of the world and not leave one person behind you who is sorry you are gone,” said Anne, shuddering. “Nobody except her parents ever loved poor Atossa, that’s certain, not even her husband,” averred Mrs. Lynde. “She was his fourth wife. He’d sort of got into the habit of marrying. He only lived a few years after he married her. The doctor said he died of dyspepsia, but I shall always maintain that he died of Atossa’s tongue, that’s what. Poor soul, she always knew everything about her neighbors, but she never was very well acquainted with herself. Well, she’s gone anyhow; and I suppose the next excitement will be Diana’s wedding.” 
 Anne and Gilbert:
“I hope no great sorrow ever will come to you, Anne,” said Gilbert, who could not connect the idea of sorrow with the vivid, joyous creature beside him, unwitting that those who can soar to the highest heights can also plunge to the deepest depths, and that the natures which enjoy most keenly are those which also suffer most sharply.
“But there must — sometime,” mused Anne. “Life seems like a cup of glory held to my lips just now. But there must be some bitterness in it — there is in every cup. I shall taste mine some day. Well, I hope I shall be strong and brave to meet it. And I hope it won’t be through my own fault that it will come. Do you remember what Dr. Davis said last Sunday evening — that the sorrows God sent us brought comfort and strength with them, while the sorrows we brought on ourselves, through folly or wickedness, were by far the hardest to bear? But we mustn’t talk of sorrow on an afternoon like this.
As a companion, Anne honestly acknowledged nobody could be so satisfactory as Gilbert; she was very glad, so she told herself, that he had evidently dropped all nonsensical ideas — though she spent considerable time secretly wondering why.
But Gilbert’s visits were not what they once were. Anne almost dreaded them. It was very disconcerting to look up in the midst of a sudden silence and find Gilbert’s hazel eyes fixed upon her with a quite unmistakable expression in their grave depths; and it was still more disconcerting to find herself blushing hotly and uncomfortably under his gaze, just as if — just as if — well, it was very embarrassing. Anne wished herself back at Patty’s Place, where there was always somebody else about to take the edge off a delicate situation. At Green Gables Marilla went promptly to Mrs. Lynde’s domain when Gilbert came and insisted on taking the twins with her. The significance of this was unmistakable and Anne was in a helpless fury over it.
“There is something I want to say to you.” “Oh, don’t say it,” cried Anne, pleadingly. “Don’t — PLEASE, Gilbert.” “I must. Things can’t go on like this any longer. Anne, I love you. You know I do. I — I can’t tell you how much. Will you promise me that some day you’ll be my wife?” “I — I can’t,” said Anne miserably. “Oh, Gilbert — you — you’ve spoiled everything.” “Don’t you care for me at all?” Gilbert asked after a very dreadful pause, during which Anne had not dared to look up. “Not — not in that way. I do care a great deal for you as a friend. But I don’t love you, Gilbert.” “But can’t you give me some hope that you will — yet?” “No, I can’t,” exclaimed Anne desperately. “I never, never can love you — in that way — Gilbert. You must never speak of this to me again.” There was another pause — so long and so dreadful that Anne was driven at last to look up. Gilbert’s face was white to the lips. And his eyes — but Anne shuddered and looked away. There was nothing romantic about this. Must proposals be either grotesque or — horrible? Could she ever forget Gilbert’s face? “Is there anybody else?” he asked at last in a low voice. “No — no,” said Anne eagerly. “I don’t care for any one like THAT — and I LIKE you better than anybody else in the world, Gilbert. And we must — we must go on being friends, Gilbert.”
“Do you call it idiotic to refuse to marry a man I don’t love?” said Anne coldly, goaded to reply. “You don’t know love when you see it. You’ve tricked something out with your imagination that you think love, and you expect the real thing to look like that. There, that’s the first sensible thing I’ve ever said in my life. I wonder how I managed it?” “Phil,” pleaded Anne, “please go away and leave me alone for a little while. My world has tumbled into pieces. I want to reconstruct it.” “Without any Gilbert in it?” said Phil, going. A world without any Gilbert in it! Anne repeated the words drearily. Would it not be a very lonely, forlorn place? Well, it was all Gilbert’s fault. He had spoiled their beautiful comradeship. She must just learn to live without it.
Gilbert Blythe and Christine Stuart were nothing to her — absolutely nothing. But Anne had given up trying to analyze the reason of her blushes. As for Roy, of course she was in love with him — madly so. How could she help it? Was he not her ideal? Who could resist those glorious dark eyes, and that pleading voice? Were not half the Redmond girls wildly envious? And what a charming sonnet he had sent her, with a box of violets, on her birthday! Anne knew every word of it by heart. It was very good stuff of its kind, too. Not exactly up to the level of Keats or Shakespeare — even Anne was not so deeply in love as to think that.
Yet just before she left Patty’s Place for Convocation she flung Roy’s violets aside and put Gilbert’s lilies-of-the-valley in their place. She could not have told why she did it. Somehow, old Avonlea days and dreams and friendships seemed very close to her in this attainment of her long-cherished ambitions. She and Gilbert had once picturedout merrily the day on which they should be capped and gowned graduates in Arts. The wonderful day had come and Roy’s violets had no place in it. Only her old friend’s flowers seemed to belong to this fruition of old-blossoming hopes which he had once shared.
The Arts graduates gave a graduation dance that night. When Anne dressed for it she tossed aside the pearl beads she usually wore and took from her trunk the small box that had come to Green Gables on Christmas day. In it was a thread-like gold chain with a tiny pink enamel heart as a pendant. On the accompanying card was written, “With all good wishes from your old chum, Gilbert.” Anne, laughing over the memory the enamel heart conjured up the fatal day when Gilbert had called her “Carrots” and vainly tried to make his peace with a pink candy heart, had written him a nice little note of thanks. But she had never worn the trinket. Tonight she fastened it about her white throat with a dreamy smile.
There is a book of Revelation in every one’s life, as there is in the Bible. Anne read hers that bitter night, as she kept her agonized vigil through the hours of storm and darkness. She loved Gilbert — had always loved him! She knew that now. She knew that she could no more cast him out of her life without agony than she could have cut off her right hand and cast it from her.
And the knowledge had come too late — too late even for the bitter solace of being with him at the last. If she had not been so blind — so foolish — she would have had the right to go to him now. But he would never know that she loved him — he would go away from this life thinking that she did not care. Oh, the black years of emptiness stretching before her! She could not live through them — she could not! She cowered down by her window and wished, for the first time in her gay young life, that she could die, too. If Gilbert went away from her, without one word or sign or message, she could not live. Nothing was of any value without him. She belonged to him and he to her. In her hour of supreme agony she had no doubt of that. He did not love Christine Stuart — never had loved Christine Stuart. Oh, what a fool she had been not to realize what the bond was that had held her to Gilbert — to think that the flattered fancy she had felt for Roy Gardner had been love. And now she must pay for her folly as for a crime.
He had come quite often to Green Gables after his recovery, and something of their old comradeship had returned. But Anne no longer found it satisfying. The rose of love made the blossom of friendship pale and scentless by contrast. And Anne had again begun to doubt if Gilbert now felt anything for her but friendship. In the common light of common day her radiant certainty of that rapt morning had faded.
“Have you any unfulfilled dreams, Anne?” asked Gilbert. Something in his tone — something she had not heard since that miserable evening in the orchard at Patty’s Place — made Anne’s heart beat wildly. But she made answer lightly. “Of course. Everybody has. It wouldn’t do for us to have all our dreams fulfilled. We would be as good as dead if we had nothing left to dream about. What a delicious aroma that low-descending sun is extracting from the asters and ferns. I wish we could see perfumes as well as smell them. I’m sure they would be very beautiful.” Gilbert was not to be thus sidetracked. “I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends — and YOU!”

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Emily Climbs


Montgomery, L.M. 1925. Emily Climbs. Bantam Books. 325 pages.

Emily Byrd Starr was alone in her room, in the old New Moon farmhouse at Blair Water, one stormy night in a February of the olden years before the world turned upside down.

The second book in the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery. This one focuses in on the high school years of Emily Starr. It sees her leaving Aunt Laura and Aunt Elizabeth and going to live with Aunt Ruth in Shrewsbury. Ilse, Perry, and Teddy are all going to high school in Shrewsbury too. (But they get to live in the dorms.) In exchange for being allowed to go, to keep on with her education, Emily has had to promise to give up writing all fiction. She's still allowed to journal, to scribble in her Jimmy Books, but every word she writes must be true. That doesn't mean she can't have fun in her writing. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction after all. But it is a hardship for her nonetheless.

Emily Climbs has its charming moments. Emily is more determined than ever to be a writer. And within Emily Climbs, she begins to find success. She still receives rejection slips most of the time. But she's beginning to receive good news in the mail as well. A poem published here and there. And some of these publications--not all of them, mind you, have paid her for her work! It seems that Emily might just be able to pay her relatives back for her education, a particular dream for Emily so that she won't have to be that poor orphan relation.

There is something delightful about Emily and her friends and family. Even something delightful in her nemesis: Evelyn Blake.

As she grows into a young woman, Emily is beginning to receive some attention from boys--Perry is as stuck on her as ever. As is the much-older-and-slightly-creepy Dean Priest. And then there's her wooing cousin, Andrew. But the one boy Emily has her heart set on, Teddy, seems to be a bit too shy to make the first move.

Here's one of my favorite quotes, taken from a conversation with Mr. Carpenter, Emily's former teacher and quite close friend.

"Nothing good about this but it's title. A priggish little yarn. And Hidden Riches is not a story--it's a machine. It creaks. It never made me forget for one instant that it was a story. Hence it isn't a story." (91)


There's something so true about that last part. For a story to work, really work, it has to make the reader forget that it's a story. Not easy to do, but the best writers seem to manage it.

Bookshelves of Doom also has a review.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Chronicles of Avonlea


Montgomery, L.M. 1912. Chronicles of Avonlea. Bantam Classics. 183 pages.

Chronicles of Avonlea is a short story collection by L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. These stories are all set on Prince Edward Island. Several of them are set in Avonlea and feature references to the unforgettable red-headed orphan, Anne Shirley. At the time this book was originally published, the Anne series consisted of two books: Anne of Green Gables (1908) and Anne of Avonlea (1909).

There are twelve stories included in this collection:
The Hurrying of Ludovic
Old Lady Lloyd
Each In His Own Tongue
Little Joscelyn
The Winning of Lucinda
Old Man Shaw's Girl
Aunt Olivia's Beau
The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's
Pa Sloane's Purchase
The Courting of Prissy Strong
The Miracle at Carmody
The End of a Quarrel

Several of these stories are quite memorable. Especially "The Hurrying of Ludovic," "Old Lady Lloyd," "The Winning of Lucinda," and "The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's."

What makes these stories memorable? Well, it could be that they're full of eccentric characters. Montgomery had a way of writing eccentric that made eccentric a good thing.

The Hurrying of Ludovic, for example, is about the slow courtship of Theodora Dix. Ludovic Speed has been courting Theodora for fifteen years. An indecisive man to say the least, he needs to be "speeded" up according to Anne. And that is just what Anne sets out to accomplish. Will she do it? Can Theodora get her happily ever after with a little help from Anne?

Old Lady Lloyd is a more sentimental short story. Perhaps it's the most melodramatic of the bunch. It features an old woman, "Old Lady Lloyd" who is quite poor but proud. Her neighbors think she is rich but stingy. But her pride is about to be tested when she learns that the daughter of an old beau of hers, Sylvia Gray, is in town. She's the new music teacher. She loves her. She represents the daughter she could have had--would have had--if not for her foolish pride. So she becomes a "fairy" god-mother of sorts to the girl. She gives her presents--anonymously--and watches her from afar. As the summer progresses, Old Lady Lloyd's heart begins to thaw and she becomes more and more in touch with her humanity, with her feelings. (I warned you it was sentimental.)

"The Winning of Lucinda" is a great story because it is funny. It's about two very stubborn people: Lucinda and Romney. These two cousins courted and quarreled. In fact, they were engaged--still are engaged. It's been years--fifteen years to be exact. But Lucinda said she would never say another word to Romney, and Romney said he wouldn't speak to her until she spoke to him first. Is there hope for this couple yet?

"The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's" is about two very cranky people finding love. One is a man-hater, cat lover, Angelina Peter MacPherson. And the other is a woman-hater, dog-lover named Alexander Abraham Bennett. Through chance, these two along with William Adolphus (cat) and Mr. Riley (dog) get quarantined together when there is an outbreak of small pox. It's a great story--a fun story.

I enjoy L.M. Montgomery. Whether she is writing novels or short stories, her work is always amazing. Even if you're not a short story lover, even if you think you hate short stories, I would suggest giving L.M. Montgomery a try.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. The Blue Castle


Montgomery, L.M. 1926. The Blue Castle. 218 pages.

If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling's whole life would have been entirely different. She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington's engagement picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal. But it did rain and you shall hear what happened because of it.

With The Blue Castle I had one of those wonderful this-book-was-written-just-for-me moments. Have you had one of those? Have you had one lately? It is the story of Valancy Stirling and what happens when she receives some surprising news...

Who is Valancy? She's an old maid, an unhappy woman afraid of living.
Deerwood and the Stirlings had long since relegated Valancy to hopeless old maidenhood. But Valancy herself had never quite relinquished a certain pitiful, shamed, little hope that Romance would come her way yet--never, until this wet, horrible morning, when she wakened to the fact that she was twenty-nine and unsought by any man. Ay, there lay the sting. Valancy did not mind so much being an old maid. After all, she thought, being an old maid couldn't possibly be as dreadful as being married to an Uncle Wellington or an Uncle Benjamin, or even an Uncle Herbert. What hurt her was that she had never had a chance to be anything but an old maid. No man had ever desired her. (1)
When Valancy decides to secretly go to the doctor regarding her chest pains and heart palpitations, she receives--by letter--the news that she is dying. Instead of this news crippling her, she almost sighs a breath of relief.

Valancy did not sleep that night. She lay awake all through the long dark hours--thinking--thinking. She made a discovery that surprised her; she, who had been afraid of almost everything in life, was not afraid of death. It did not seem in the least terrible to her. And she need not now be afraid of anything else. Why had she been afraid of things? Because of life. Afraid of Uncle Benjamin because of the menace of poverty in old age. But now she would never be old--neglected--tolerated. Afraid of being an old maid all her life. But now she would not be an old maid very long. Afraid of offending her mother and her clan because she had to live with and among them and couldn't leave peaceably if she didn't give in to them. But now she hadn't. Valancy felt a curious freedom. But she was still horribly afraid of one thing--the whole jamfry of them would make when she told them. (37-38)
So she decides not to tell them. And she decides to change the way she's living. Decides that the last months of her life should--for once--be lived according to what she wants. She wants her chance to be happy.

"I've never had one wholly happy hour in my life--not one," she thought. "I've just been a colourless nonentity. I remember reading somewhere once that there is an hour in which a woman might be happy all her life if she could but find it. I've never found my hour--never, never. And I never will now. If I could only have had that hour I'd be willing to die." (39)
One of the first things she does--besides beginning to live for herself--is to get out from under her family. She becomes housekeeper/nurse for "Roaring" Abel and Cissy, a 'disgraced' and now dying woman. While there she meets a strange man, Barney Snaith, whom her family does not approve of. But he is charming--to her--and she loves him. When Cissy dies, and Valancy finds herself out of a job and a place to live, she does the unthinkable: she proposes marriage to Barney.

"I thought I'd run down and ask if there was anything I could do for you," said Barney.
Valancy took it with a canter.
"Yes, there is something you can do for me," she said, evenly and distinctly. "Will you marry me?"
For a moment Barney was silent. There was no particular expression on his face. Then he gave an odd laugh.
"Come, now! I knew luck was just waiting around the corner for me. All the signs have been pointing that way today."
"Wait." Valancy lifted her hand. "I'm in earnest--but I want to get my breath after that question. Of course, with my bringing up, I realize perfectly well that this is one of the things 'a lady should not do.'"
"But why--why?"
"For two reasons." Valancy was still a little breathless, but she looked Barney straight in the eyes while all the dead Stirlings revolved rapidly in their graves and the living ones did nothing because they did not know that Valancy was at that moment proposing lawful marriage to the notorious Barney Snaith. "The first reason is, I--I"--Valancy tried to say "I love you" but could not. She had to take refuge in a pretended flippancy. "I'm crazy about you. the second is--this."
She handed him Dr. Trent's letter.
Barney opened it with the air of a man thankful to find some safe, sane thing to do. As he read it his face changed. He understood--perhaps more than Valancy wanted him to.
"Are you sure nothing can be done for you?"
Valancy did not misunderstand the question.
"Yes. You know Dr. Trent's reputation in regard to heart disease. I haven't long to live--perhaps only a few months--a few weeks. I want to live them. I can't go back to Deerwood--you know what my life was like there. And"--she managed it this time--"I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That's all." (127, 128)

Will he say yes? Will she finally get her one happy hour? Will her last months be happy ones? What does life have in store for Valancy? Read and see for yourself in The Blue Castle.

The Blue Castle is all about wish-fulfillment. It's a romantic story full of heart. Highly recommended.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Kilmeny of the Orchard


Montgomery, L.M. 1910. Kilmeny of the Orchard. 144 pages.

At least it was short. Of course, I can think of other things to say about this one. It is a bit unusual in that it is romance from a male perspective. A Montgomery book narrated by a man--Eric Marshall. (I'm so used to Montgomery's heroines: Anne, Emily, etc.)

Did I love Eric as a narrator? He was okay. But he wasn't an Anne or an Emily. Eric wasn't the most thrilling of narrators--he was just a good guy with a good heart. Slightly on the boring side. (A flaw or two might have helped here. Made him seem more human, more vulnerable.)

Of course, this is one of Montgomery's earlier novels--her third to be exact if Wikipedia is to be believed.) So I think it comes across as a bit more amateurish perhaps? It felt that way to me.

What is it about? Well, Eric has just graduated from college. He receives a letter from a friend asking a favor. His friend wants him to take his place as school teacher in the small PE island community of Lindsay. Eric, being the good guy he is even though he never wanted to be a teacher, agrees. He moves into the boarding house--which is of course run by some lovable characters that just happen to me more interesting than Eric himself. One evening, he is out walking in an orchard and he hears some lovely violin music. He sees a beautiful woman playing soulful music. It amazes him. He's struck speechless almost. This mystery woman is named Kilmeny. She's "dumb" (that's how they refer to her muteness, her inability to speak) but he comes to love her truly, madly, deeply.

Kilmeny's family history is a sad one. And her upbringing is very strange. But she's got a heart of gold. So pure, so innocent, so lovely. (Is it wrong for me to find her goodness and purity a bit too much? She's too perfect. But, of course, she doesn't realize she's perfect. I know it sounds horrible. But both Eric and Kilmeny seem too good to be true.)

One thing that did bother me about this one was the characterization (or lack thereof) of the "villain" Neil. Here we have a character that is slandered almost from the first chapter simply because he's Italian. He was a baby taken in by the Gordon family. (Kilmeny is a Gordon as well.) Neil's mother and father, I believe, were peddlers. His mother died soon after he was born, and the father moved on without him. The Gordons--the family the peddlers just happened to stop at the day he was born--are left with a newborn on their steps. They seem happy enough to take him in. Feel it would be "better" for them to raise him than to send him to an orphanage. But apparently, the community is anything but welcoming. The way he's treated in the community--by children and adults alike--made me squirm. I found it very distasteful. The message being somewhat in favor of nature versus nurture. He'll never amount to anything because he's got "bad blood." He'll never be one of us. Anyway, when Montgomery made him the villain, she lost me.

I don't like unnecessary villains. Characters that supposedly are part of the story to add friction and conflict. Characters that are more plot devices than, you know, actual characters. You know the character Jud from Oklahoma. What authors should realize--at least from my perspective--is that some stories simply don't need those one dimensional villains. Oklahoma didn't need Jud. Laurie and Curly don't need Jud to fall in love. They're head over heels in love with each other before the show even starts. And Kilmeny of the Orchard doesn't *need* Neil to be the villain. If she wanted him to be a 'real' villain, we needed to know more.

Other reviews: Once Upon A Bookshelf, A Fair Substitute for Heaven, Reading to Know.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

6 Comments on Kilmeny of the Orchard, last added: 9/11/2009
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19. Holiday Book Bonanza ‘09: Elleke Boehmer

By Kirsty McHugh, OUP UK

It has become a holiday tradition on the OUPblog to ask our favorite people about their favourite books. empire writingThis year we asked authors to participate (OUP authors and non-OUP authors). For the next two weeks we will be posting their responses which reflect a wide variety of tastes and interests, in fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Check back daily for new books to add to your 2010 reading lists. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy next year check out all the great books we have discovered during past holiday seasons: 2006, 2007, 2008 (US), and 2008 (UK).

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature at Wolfson College, Oxford and is internationally known for her research in postcolonial writing and theory, and the literature of empire. She has written or edited five books for OUP: Scouting for Boys, Empire Writing, Nelson Mandela: A Very Short Introduction, Empire, the National, and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920, and Colonial and Postcolonial Literature.


My favourite books keep changing their line-up, with new number ones jostling for attention in phases, depending on shifting interests and moods.

As far as my favourite children’s book is concerned however I will always come back to LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, 101 this year, which I must first have read aged about 11 and like so many bookish provincial girls the world over related to at once. As the tale of the parentless redhead who grows up with elderly Matthew and Marilla in Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, where the soil is as red as her hair, Anne is the ultimate ugly duckling girl’s story. What young teenage reader of that era, I wonder, would not have identified with harum-scarum Anne in her quest for family, friendship, poetry and love, in roughly that order, and who succeeds in that quest without losing her charm and her propensity for falling into ‘scrapes’? I certainly identified, with a vengeance, to the extent that, aged 17, I railroaded and cycled all the way from Toronto to PEI in order to see Anne’s island for myself.

My favourite book for adults at the present time is another story about a child, this time a boy, JM Coetzee’s Boyhood, the first in his ‘self-cannibalizing’ trilogy (to quote Zadie Smith) Scenes from Provincial Life. Boyhood presents as a fiction, in memoir form, as some of the scenes appear to emerg

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20. Further Chronicles of Avonlea

Further Chronicles of Avonlea. L.M. Montgomery. 1920/1989. Bantam Classics. 200 pages.

I love L.M. Montgomery. I do. I just love, love, love her books--her novels and her short stories. Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea are short story collections set on Prince Edward Island during Anne's time. (I get the impression that these stories are set around the time of Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, etc. She has NOT married Gilbert yet.*)

There are fifteen short stories:

Aunt Cynthia's Persian Cat
The Materializing of Cecil
Her Father's Daughter
Jane's Baby
The Dream-Child
The Brother Who Failed
The Return of Hester
The Little Brown Book of Miss Emily
Sara's Way
The Son of His Mother
The Education of Betty
In Her Selfless Mood
The Conscience Case of David Bell
Only a Common Fellow
Tannis of the Flats

This collection features one of the best, best, best short stories, one that practically brings me to tears each and every time: The Brother Who Failed. There is a lot of variety in the stories. Comedy and tragedy and everything in between.

Aunt Cynthia's Persian Cat is the charming story of two sisters, Sue and Ismay, who absolutely hate their aunt's cat, Fatima. But the two are pressured into taking care of the cat while their aunt goes on holiday. One day the cat goes missing, and, well the two are at a loss to know what to do about it. They have to have a Persian cat--the real Fatima or not--to give to their aunt. But how will they find one that is a close enough match...and how will they pay for it?! Sue has been pursued by Max for many, many years. He's proposed over eleven times...he has a solution to the problem...but he wants a different answer to his twelfth proposal...

The Materializing of Cecil is another charming story--another romantic comedy. Charlotte Holmes, our heroine, is an old maid. And she wouldn't mind too terribly being an old maid if anyone had ever wanted her, courted her, etc. If she'd had an opportunity to marry but didn't. So one day--I believe on her fortieth birthday--she tells a little lie to one of the young women in the sewing circle. Before she knows it the whole room is her audience. She spins this tragic tale of a failed love affair. She invents the whole thing, of course, even gives him a name, Cecil Fenwick, and a profession, lawyer. A few months later, however, Charlotte is just shocked--and incredibly embarrassed--that a Cecil Fenwick, a lawyer, has come to town to visit his sister, Mrs. Maxwell. All the details seem to match--that's the odd part. Everyone just knows that this is Charlotte's Cecil. What will she do when she's confronted by Mr. Fenwick?!

Her Father's Daughter is a sadder story, perhaps, because of all the missed opportunities. It's the story of a broken family. Our heroine, Rachel Spencer, has never known her father, David, because her parents quarreled months before she was born. Her parents won't even talk to each other, won't even talk about one another. But Rachel feels the loss. One day she accidentally finds her father and the two share one perfect, perfect day together. She's stumbled across his home in the Cove, and he shows her his place and they talk and laugh, etc. She, of course, wants to come back again, wants to visit him now that she's fou

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21. Top 100 Children’s Novels #8: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

#8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
182 points

Oh how I wanted to be Anne Shirley growing up! I could relate to her so much-I was imaginative and had a temper to match, so I always felt as though Anne was a kindred spirit. And who wouldn’t want to end up with Gilbert Blythe?? This is a series that whenever I would read them, I would find myself in a “reading fog”. I would stop reading and have to remember that I wasn’t on Prince Edward Island with Anne and Diana. It always seemed like such a magical place and I wished for those books to be real. A friend said it best when she told me “there’s always a Anne book for every stage of life.” I think that’s what makes them timeless. – Sarah (Green Bean Teen Queen)

Anne took this skinny, awkward, mousy-haired suburban lass from the age of bell bottoms and sunset-print polyester shirts and dropped her into a world of Victorian charm. A world of puffed sleeves, bosom friends, strolls down wooded lanes, and unbridled imagination. I must have reread Gilbert rescuing Anne from under the bridge a million times. Oh, the transforming power of literature on a young romantic soul. Anne, how I dreamed of being you. – DaNae Leu

L. M. Montgomery’s books are the sort of books I reread every few years just to feel that life is good. – Sondra Eklund

L.M. Montgomery, to my mind, single-handedly destroys the notion that authors give themselves initials as their first names so as to throw off potential male readers who wouldn’t want a book penned by a woman.  Is there any book in this world girlier than Anne of Green Gables?  Or, for that matter, any other of Ms. Montgomery’s works?  Be that as it may be, tis a fine novel for both the boy and girl set.  Aside from Pippi Longstocking, there’s no other literary redhead of quite the same tomboyish aspects as our Anne.

How it came to be:  In 100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey we learn that when Ms. Montgomery began writing the book she, “first intended the story to be a mere seven chapters long, ideal for a serial treatment in a Sunday school paper.”  That plan quickly fell by the wayside and so she submitted it to several publishers.  It was rejected multiple times, and according to What Katy Read, after she got four rejections in a row, “Montgomery put the manuscript in an old hat-box, intending at some later date to cut it back to its original proportions. But she changed her mind when she rediscovered the forgotten work in the winter of 1906, and decided to try it out once more.”  So it reached L.C. Page and Company.  They offered her “either an outright fee of $500 or a royalty of 9 cents a book.”  Thank the heavens above she went with the royalty.  Her first royalty check = $1730.  The book was an instant hit.

Obviously the publisher wanted sequels and she obliged, though she would say that the, “freshness of the idea was gone . . . I simply built it. Anne, grown-up, couldn’t be made as quaint and unexpected as the child Anne.” Seven books would follow, but they never quite lived up to the first.

Book #1 remains hugely beloved.  Indeed in December 2009 a first edition of this book sold at auction for $37,500.  This smashed the previous child vintage children’s novel record of a mere $24,000.  Sotheby’s also auctioned off the book in 2005, but that sale was marred slightly by the fact that the

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22. Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921. 280 pages.

Though Rilla of Ingleside is technically part of the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery, I am not sure it would have to be read as part of the whole series. Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside make a great pair all on their own. The only book that would truly be helpful in 'appreciating' Rilla of Ingleside is Rainbow Valley.   

Characters carried over from Rainbow Valley:

Anne and Gilbert have a fine family together: Jem, Walter, Nan and Di (twin sisters), Shirley (a boy), and Rilla. Helping them out around the house (and kitchen) Susan Baker.

Anne's current best friend and good neighbor: Cornelia Elliott who--along with her husband Marshall--are raising an orphan girl, Mary Vance.

Rev. John Meredith and his new wife, Rosemary, are proud parents of: Jerry, Faith, Una, Carl, and Bruce.

Rilla of Ingleside is one of the BEST books I've ever read set during World War I. It is bittersweet and heartbreaking and WONDERFUL from cover to cover. You might think that since it is part of the Anne series that it would be narrated by Anne, or closely follow Anne, but, that is not the case at all. This is Rilla's coming-of-age story. It is HER story from cover to cover, and while her mom is important to her, this isn't Anne's story to tell.

When readers first meet Rilla she is just fourteen. She wants to be considered all grown up, but, in most ways she's still a "silly" girl with big dreams and fancies. (Always laughing, never serious, wanting dozens of beaus, wanting to have a great romance). But her life changes one August evening when war is declared. Jem and Jerry are the first men in her life to go away to war. Eventually she'll have to say goodbye to others: Walter, Ken Ford (the man who makes her lisp out of pure joy), Shirley and Carl. One might expect her to pick up new responsibilities during the war, such as working for the Red Cross or junior Red Cross, etc. But Rilla has an adventure all her own...

For just weeks into the war, Rilla happens upon a tragic scene. She is going visiting or collecting, and discovers a newly dead woman with a newborn son! She brings him home with her even though she doesn't like babies at all. And her father tells her that the baby probably wouldn't survive in an orphan asylum, and, if she wants to keep it at Ingleside, she'll have to be its primary caregiver. Can a young teen girl who previously gloried in new hats, new shoes, and dancing become a responsible parent? Rilla is determined and resourceful!

The book is about waiting, hoping, and praying... Men and women who desperately want their loved ones to be safe, but, who also believe wholeheartedly in the cause...that some things are worth fighting for and protecting. The book chronicles the entire war.

The scene that changes everything:
"England declared war on Germany today," said Jack Elliott slowly. "The news came by wire just as I left town."
"God help us," whispered Gertrude Oliver under her breath. "My dream–my dream! The first wave has broken." She looked at Allan Daly and tried to smile.
"Is this Armageddon?" she asked.
"I am afraid so," he said gravely.
A chorus of exclamations had arisen round them–light surprise and idle interest for the most part. Few there realized the import of the message–fewer still realized that it meant anything to them. Before long the dancing was on again and the hum of pleasure was as loud as ever. Gertrude and Allan Daly talked the news over in low, troubled tones. Walter Blythe had turned pale and left the room. Outside he met Jem, hurrying up the rock steps.
"Have you heard the news, Jem?"
"Yes. The Piper has come. Hurrah! I knew England wouldn't leave France in the lurch. I've been trying to get Captain Josiah to hoist the flag but he says it isn't the proper caper till sunrise. Jack says they'll be calling for volunteers tomorrow."
"What a fuss to make over nothing," said Mary Vance disdainfully as Jem dashed off. She was sitting out with Miller Douglas on a lobster–trap which was not only an unromantic but an uncomfortable seat. But Mary and Miller were both supremely happy on it. Miller Douglas was a big, strapping, uncouth lad, who thought Mary Vance's tongue uncommonly gifted and Mary Vance's white eyes stars of the first magnitude; and neither of them had the least inkling why Jem Blythe wanted to hoist the lighthouse flag. "What does it matter if there's going to be a war over there in Europe? I'm sure it doesn't concern us."
Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visitations of prophecy.
"Before this war is over," he said–or something said through his lips–"every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it–you, Mary, will feel it–feel it to your heart's core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come–and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over–years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break."
"Fancy now!" said Mary who always said that when she couldn't think of anything else to say. She didn't know what Walter meant but she felt uncomfortable. Walter Blythe was always saying odd things.
"Aren't you painting it rather strong, Walter?" asked Harvey Crawford, coming up just then. "This war won't last for years–it'll be over in a month or two. England will just wipe Germany off the map in no time."
"Do you think a war for which Germany has been preparing for twenty years will be over in a few weeks?" said Walter passionately. "This isn't a paltry struggle in a Balkan corner, Harvey. It is a death grapple. Germany comes to conquer or to die. And do you know what will happen if she conquers? Canada will be a German colony."
"Well, I guess a few things will happen before that," said Harvey shrugging his shoulders. "The British navy would have to be licked for one; and for another, Miller here, now, and I, we'd raise a dust, wouldn't we, Miller? No Germans need apply for this old country, eh?"
Harvey ran down the steps laughing.
"I declare, I think all you boys talk the craziest stuff," said Mary Vance in disgust. She got up and dragged Miller off to the rock-shore. It didn't happen often that they had a chance for a talk together; Mary was determined that this one shouldn't be spoiled by Walter Blythe's silly blather about Pipers and Germans and such like absurd things. They left Walter standing alone on the rock steps, looking out over the beauty of Four Winds with brooding eyes that saw it not.
Since I read this one specifically for the War Through the Generations challenge, I thought I'd share a few quotes about the war:
“Our sacrifice is greater than his," cried Rilla passionately. "Our boys give only themselves. We give them.” 
“Nobody whom this war has touched will ever be happy again in quite the same way. But it will be a better happiness, I think, little sister - a happiness we've earned.” 
“Without shedding of blood there is no anything… Everything, it seems to me, has to be purchased by self-sacrifice. Our race has marked every step of its painful ascent with blood. And now torrents of it must flow again… I don’t think the war has been sent as a punishment for sin. I think it is the price humanity must pay for some blessing - some advance great enough to be worth the price which we may not live to see but which our children’s children will inherit.”

 Read Rilla of Ingleside
  • If you enjoy coming of age stories
  • If you enjoy war stories
  • If you enjoy historical fiction--though this was a very contemporary account when it was first published
  • If you love L.M. Montgomery
  • If you enjoy beautiful, bittersweet oh-so-memorable novels

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1896-1901

L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1896-1901. L.M. Montgomery. 142 pages.

This short story collection features nineteen short stories by L.M. Montgomery. Stories in this collection include: "A Case of Trespass," "A Christmas Inspiration," "A Christmas Mistake," "A Strayed Allegiance," "An Invitation Given on Impulse," "Detected by the Camera," "In Spite of Myself," "Kismet," Miriam's Lover," "Miss Calista's Peppermint Bottle," "The Jest That Failed," "The Pennington's Girl," "The Red Room," "The Setness of Theodosia," "The Story of An Invitation," "The Touch of Fate," "The Waking of Helen," "The Way of Winning Anne," and "Young Si." While I didn't absolutely love each and every story in this collection, I enjoyed almost all of the stories. A few I really did LOVE.

I really did love "The Jest That Failed" perhaps because it reminded me a little of Edith Wharton's Roman Fever. In "The Jest That Failed," a few mean students decide to play a trick on Grace Seeley, a poor classmate that they look down upon. Wouldn't it be absolutely hysterical if Grace thought the most popular senior boy, Sidney Hill, was asking her to the prom? But their trick doesn't work like they hoped!

I also enjoyed "An Invitation Given on Impulse." This is how Montgomery described the heroine, Ruth Mannering..."If they had thought about it at all, they would probably have decided that they did not like her; but for the most part they simply overlooked her" and "painfully shy and reserved." This story is how one of the more popular girls decided to go with her impulse and invite "poor Ruth" to her home for the holidays instead of her best friend. This visit transformed Ruth in oh-so-many ways, and for the first time the girl catches a glimpse of what friendship is all about.

"Kismet," is an interesting story of a failed marriage that has been given a second chance...depending on the results of a horse race! This husband and wife meet accidentally after years of living separately. Both are surprised to see each other again, neither thought the other would be at the races. Conversation is strained at first, but, eventually these two happen upon an agreement. She's bet her money on one horse, he's bet on another horse...can these two make a success of it?

There is a wide variety of stories: some Christmas stories, some happily-ever-after romances, some tragic romances, some comedies, some rags-to-riches, some coming-of-age stories. They do range in sentiment. Almost all of the stories are interesting, however. All of them display human nature at its best and give a glimpse of Montgomery's greatest gift: her way of capturing human character and spirit with very few words.

Read this short story collection:
  • If you're a fan of L.M. Montgomery
  • If you enjoy short stories
  • If you'd like to enjoy short stories but are somewhat resistant or hesitant to pick up short story collections
  • If you enjoy a wide variety of stories: rags to riches, coming-of-age, family-friendly "feel-good" pieces, love stories--happy and tragic, ghost stories, comedies, etc.
 
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. L.M. Montgomery Short Stories 1904

L.M. Montgomery Short Stories, 1904. L.M. Montgomery. Dodo Press. 144 pages.

This is the third L.M. Montgomery short story collection I've read and reviewed this month. (The first covering 1896-1901; the second covering 1902-1903.) This collection features eighteen short stories: "A Fortunate Mistake," "An Unpremeditated Ceremony," "At the Bay Shore Farm," "Elizabeth's Child," "Freda's Adopted Grave," "How Don Was Saved," "Miss Madeline's Proposal," "Miss Sally's Company," "Mrs. March's Revenge," "Nan," "Natty of Blue Point," "Penelope's Party Waist," "The Girl and the Wild Race," "The Promise of Lucy Ellen," "The Pursuit of the Ideal," "The Softening of Miss Cynthia," "Them Notorious Pigs," and "Why Not Ask Miss Price?"

It is always interesting to read her short stories. I noticed in this collection in particular that there were several ideas or themes that were later developed more fully and used in several of her novels. For example, "The Promise of Lucy Ellen," reminded me of the West sisters in Rainbow Valley. And "Miss Sally's Company" reminded me of Miss Lavendar from Anne of Avonlea.

The story I loved MOST of all is "Them Notorious Pigs." Here is how it begins:
John Harrington was a woman-hater, or thought that he was, which amounts to the same thing. He was forty-five and, having been handsome in his youth, was a fine-looking man still. He had a remarkably good farm and was a remarkably good farmer. He also had a garden which was the pride and delight of his heart or, at least, it was before Mrs. Hayden's pigs got into it.
 Mrs. Hayden is a widow raising two young children and struggling to keep up with her new farm. After the pigs get into Mr. Harrington's garden one too many times...he loses it...
Harrington had never seen his neighbour at close quarters before. Now he could not help seeing that she was a very pretty little woman, with wistful, dark blue eyes and an appealing expression. Mary Hayden had been next to a beauty in her girlhood, and she had a good deal of her bloom left yet, although hard work and worry were doing their best to rob her of it. But John Harrington was an angry man and did not care whether the woman in question was pretty or not. Her pigs had rooted up his garden—that fact filled his mind.
"Mrs. Hayden, those pigs of yours have been in my garden again. I simply can't put up with this any longer. Why in the name of reason don't you look after your animals better? If I find them in again I'll set my dog on them, I give you fair warning."
A faint colour had crept into Mary Hayden's soft, milky-white cheeks during this tirade, and her voice trembled as she said, "I'm very sorry, Mr. Harrington. I suppose Bobbles forgot to shut the gate of their pen again this morning. He is so forgetful."
"I'd lengthen his memory, then, if I were you," returned Harrington grimly, supposing that Bobbles was the hired man. "I'm not going to have my garden ruined just because he happens to be forgetful. I am speaking my mind plainly, madam. If you can't keep your stock from being a nuisance to other people you ought not to try to run a farm at all."
Then did Mrs. Hayden sit down upon the doorstep and burst into tears. Harrington felt, as Sarah King would have expressed it, "every which way at once." Here was a nice mess! What a nuisance women were—worse than the pigs!
"Oh, don't cry, Mrs. Hayden," he said awkwardly. "I didn't mean—well, I suppose I spoke too strongly. Of course I know you didn't mean to let the pigs in. There, do stop crying! I beg your pardon if I've hurt your feelings."
"Oh, it isn't that," sobbed Mrs. Hayden, wiping away her tears. "It's only—I've tried so hard—and everything seems to go wrong. I make such mistakes. As for your garden, sir. I'll pay for the damage my pigs have done if you'll let me know what it comes to."
She sobbed again and caught her breath like a grieved child. Harrington felt like a brute. He had a queer notion that if he put his arm around her and told her not to worry over things women were not created to attend to he would be expressing his feelings better than in any other way. But of course he couldn't do that. Instead, he muttered that the damage didn't amount to much after all, and he hoped she wouldn't mind what he said, and then he got himself away and strode through the orchard like a man in a desperate hurry.
Something changed after their meeting...Mr. Harrington finds himself wishing that those pigs would get in again...because he would LOVE to see her again...

I also LOVED The Girl and the Wild Race. Mrs. Theodora Whitney desperately wants Judith to get married. (She is twenty-seven after all.) Mrs. Whitney feels that Eben King would be the perfect match for Judith. He is her choice for Judith. But Eben King is NOT Judith's ideal. Judith thinks Bruce Marshall is her "right one." When Judith overhears her aunt talking to a notorious gossiper about how horribly contrary she is and how she's unlikely to ever marry...she reacts.
"I will," repeated Judith stormily. "I'm tired of being nagged day in and day out. I'll marry—and what is more I'll marry the very first man that asks me—that I will, if it is old Widower Delane himself! How does that suit you, Aunt Theodora?"
Mrs. Theodora's mental processes were never slow. She dropped her knitting ball and stooped for it. In that time she had decided what to do. She knew that Judith would stick to her word, Stewart-like, and she must trim her sails to catch this new wind.
"It suits me real well, Judith," she said calmly, "you can marry the first man that asks you and I'll say no word to hinder."
The color went out of Judith's face, leaving it pale as ashes. Her hasty assertion had no sooner been uttered than it was repented of, but she must stand by it now. She went out of the kitchen without another glance at her aunt or the delighted Mrs. Tony and dashed up the stairs to her own little room which looked out over the whole of Ramble Valley. It was warm with the March sunshine and the leafless boughs of the creeper that covered the end of the house were tapping a gay tattoo on the window panes to the music of the wind.
Which suitor will arrive first when he hears the news of Judith's bold declaration? It WILL lead to quite a race!

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Kilmeny of the Orchard (1910)

Kilmeny of the Orchard. L.M. Montgomery. 1910. 144 pages.

THE sunshine of a day in early spring, honey pale and honey sweet, was showering over the red brick buildings of Queenslea College and the grounds about them, throwing through the bare, budding maples and elms, delicate, evasive etchings of gold and brown on the paths, and coaxing into life the daffodils that were peering greenly and perkily up under the windows of the co-eds' dressing-room.  

Eric Marshall, our narrator, takes a teaching position at a Prince Edward Island school to help out a friend who needs to take a leave of absence for health reasons. While on the island, he falls in love with a beautiful young woman, Kilmeny. It is love at first sight, for him; but for her, well, it's a different story. She flees the scene. At first he wasn't sure if the problem was with him or with her. He doesn't know who she is, and, he certainly doesn't know her story. But he gradually learns the truth. She can't speak. And she's had a horribly sad and awkward upbringing. He loves her all the same. And through a series of secret meetings, they come to love one another very much. He is ready to propose, but, she is not ready to say yes. How can she wed him when she's so unworthy of him? He surely deserves a wife who can speak. So she's ready to turn him down no matter how many times he proposes for his own good. But he's not ready to walk away from true love, and he's got hope and confidence. Confidence that his good friend, who just happens to be a THROAT doctor, can figure out why Kilmeny can't speak and perhaps cure her.

This romance novel is not my favorite. I do not care for the conflict in it. Neil Gordon is a "foreign" orphan taken into Kilmeny's family and raised practically by birth. (He's Italian.) Yet, it's clear that NATURE wins over nurture in this one. For he's so "strange," and "foreign," and "wild" and so very unsafe. Though the two have been raised together their whole lives, he becomes obsessed with her. Think Jud Fry from Oklahoma. And when he sees the two together, he's anything but happy. Even though this conflict helps bring the story to its resolution--Kilmeny having GREAT motivation to finally speak--I can't help regretting it all the same.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Read Kilmeny of the Orchard
  • If you love L.M. Montgomery
  • If you like romance novels (clean romance novels)
  • If you like classics and/or historical fiction
  • If you like descriptive writing; Montgomery LOVES nature

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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