I found it harder to get through this one than the previous volumes, mainly because at some points her life is dragged down by such petty, trivial aff...moreI found it harder to get through this one than the previous volumes, mainly because at some points her life is dragged down by such petty, trivial affairs taking up all her energy which are not that interesting to read about. It's not her fault, but it makes for hard reading - it's not the sort of deep or glorious misery that can be gripping to read, but just annoying and dull. I'd say this especially affects the second quarter of the book, and when you get past that it gets interesting again. It especially gets much better when she and her family move to Norval, she really seems to regain a lot of her former self there. So if anyone has trouble getting through those years with the Pickering affair and the church division stuff, just persist until they get to Norval! It gets much better!
It's really interesting to read the background of her life and see in what kind of conditions she wrote her books. And also to sometimes read her thoughts on her own books. But besides that, LMM is a wonderfully gifted writer whose journals, though much less cheerful than her novels, are nevertheless full of similar kind of enchanting visions and everyday humour that I love in her novels as well. And on the other hand because here she gets to write solely her own thoughts and do so with complete honesty, not having to worry about what is thought appropriate for the market, it's wonderful to read her often scathing commentary about her times, the people she knows and the literature of the time. I must say I agree with her on post-WWI literature, and I wonder how appalled she would feel if she was reading the literature today.
I usually don't like it when people post lots of quotes from the book to make their review long, but there's one quote I just have to put here to illustrate the above point. When reading a book by Morley Callaghan, she wrote:
But Callaghan's idea of "Literature" seems to be to photograph a latrine or pigstye meticulously and have nothing else in the picture. Now, latries and pigstyes are not only malodorous but very uninteresting. We have a latrine in our backyard. I see it when I look that way - and I also see before it a garden of color and perfum - over it a blue sky - behind it a velvety pine caressing crystal air - a river of silver and aquamarine - misty hills of glamor beyond. These things are as "real" as the latrine and can all be seen at the same time. Callaghan sees nothing but the latrine and insists blatantly that you see nothing else also. If you insist on seeing sky and river and pine you are a "sentimentalist" and the truth is not in you.
I think that's one of the most sensible comments about literature I've read in a long time and says exactly what is wrong with literature still today, or at least that which is thought to be great literature. Similar thoughts have been expressed in Montgomery's Emily books, and I'm heartily glad I've grown up with those books to make me immune to today's views on "literature".
And it's not as if L.M. Montgomery was a stranger to the unpleasant and depressing sides of life, world and people, so one can't accuse her of simply being naïve with this world view.
I will certainly go on to Volume IV, though first I will probably take a break to get some other unfinished books out of the way.(less)
A collection of Christmas and New Year stories written by L.M. Montgomery in her days before becoming a successful novelist, when she wrote short stor...moreA collection of Christmas and New Year stories written by L.M. Montgomery in her days before becoming a successful novelist, when she wrote short stories for magazines. These stories were discovered and edited by Rea Wilmhurst, who has also brought out other volumes of Montgomery's short stories.
The Christmas stories are sweet, sometimes even too sugary, but I think this is understandable considering that she had to write what the magazines were expecting of a Christmas story. Most of the time she succeeds in weaving the required "moral" into the story without appearing too preachy, though a few times this doesn't quite work out. When reading this one must keep in mind that these stories were written before any of her novels (with the expection of the two novel excerpts, of course), and that she simply had to write for a living and could not always strive for the highest artistic quality if the magazines demanded something else; and so not be too harsh on her if the stories sometimes are a bit too sugary and often predictable. There still are many delightful little stories in this collection. The two novel excerpts - from Anne of the Green Gables and Anne of the Windy Willows are my favourites, but I also enjoyed many of the short stories, especially "Aunt Cyrilla's Christmas Basket," "The Unforgotten One" (despite knowing fully well how sentimental and melodramatic it was, I found it really touching), "The Falsoms' Christmas Dinner," and especially "A Christmas Inspiration".
This isn't something I'd necessarily recommend to a person unfamiliar with Montgomery, unless they specifically want to read Christmas stories. It's not her best work, but it's still an enjoyable read, and for Montgomery fans it may be interesting to read her short stories to see her earlier writing.(less)
The Golden Road is even more episodic than The Story Girl, perhaps, and maybe that's why I took a fairly long time reading it, returning to it every n...moreThe Golden Road is even more episodic than The Story Girl, perhaps, and maybe that's why I took a fairly long time reading it, returning to it every now and then when I felt like this kind of reading. I loved it, nevertheless, the stories that were at times heartwarming, at times wistful or even scary, but always have that combination of life and beauty which is characteristic of Montgomery. There's a bittersweet air of the end of childhood, with the narrator Beverley looking back to those years from a time when he knows "The Golden Road" is already past him and his friends, but knows what meaning that time had and delights in every memory of it.
The last few chapters of the book, especially, have an enchanting beauty to them, like a colourful, crisp autumn morning when you already know that the summer is fading and making place to winter, but it is ending even more beautifully than it blossomed.(less)
I don't really know how to review this book. In the beginning I found it slow-going and tedious, I felt it was mainly a repetition of the same theme w...moreI don't really know how to review this book. In the beginning I found it slow-going and tedious, I felt it was mainly a repetition of the same theme we already learned in the first book: Pat doesn't like change. Well, much of the book revolves around that theme, but Pat also has to begin learning to accept change, and somehow as the book progressed I began to love it more. A lot of people seem to find Pat an annoying character, and I can easily see how someone would feel that way - and I'm not sure how good it is to write a heroine whose only driving force is her resistance to change, it makes her too passive in the story. But I still liked Pat a great deal and related to her more than I expected. I've moved house around 20 times in my 27 years and think of change as likely to bring good things as well as bad, so in that respect I'm not at all like Pat - but in some other respects I found a lot that was familiar in her.
Still, without secondary characters like Judy Plum, Tillytuck and Rae the book would be dull, because Pat is such a passive protagonist, and I didn't like it that Hilary (Jingle) was so absent for most of the book. The stream of Pat's rejected admirers became rather tedious, and I can't help thinking that men would have been likely to give up a lot sooner on someone who rejected them as much as she did. The conclusion of the book contained events that I had predicted from the outset.
It has to be said that this is the most depressive and painful LMM novel I've read so far. Especially towards the end it reminds me more of some of the more depressive parts of LMM's own journals (she had quite a difficult life in many ways) than of her other novels. So if readers are looking for Anne-like cheerfulness, I'm not surprised they don't enjoy this novel as much. But in my emotional autumn mood, I rather enjoyed the sadness as well. This novel contains some of Montgomery's most beautiful passages, but sometimes the writing is also a bit dull, and I find her constant use of ellipses irritating. She never did it in her earlier work, but in the Pat books ellipses were suddenly used more than any other punctuation, it seemed.(less)
A charming book with a charming little heroine. Magic for Marigold is not as well known as L.M. Montgomery's more famous books, such as the Anne or Em...moreA charming book with a charming little heroine. Magic for Marigold is not as well known as L.M. Montgomery's more famous books, such as the Anne or Emily series. After reading it, I'm not even sure why it's not more popular than it is, because I found it quite enchanting. I suppose it's because the book is even more episodic than LMM's other work and so doesn't seem to have as much of a central driving force in the story; and also, the book ends when Marigold is in her early teens and so there's no romance (though a hint of future comes in the last chapter, and to be honest it's my least favourite part of the book, I don't much like the image it gives of girls' vs. boys' roles even if that's typical of the time - but LMM's heroines aren't usually quite like that and I think Marigold has spine for much more, too!). But I think LMM is excellent at portraying children and Marigold is another lovely example - she's charming in her flights of fancy and her earnestness, but at the same time not too perfect. I found astonishingly much in her that reminded me of my own childhood and so made Marigold very dear to me. Then again, I was rather an odd child, so maybe not every reader has that experience!
Besides Marigold, I love the characters of her family, they're wonderfully drawn and feel true, and often quite hilarious. The writing is beautiful like in LMM's work in general, though I think the Finnish translation I read it in (couldn't find it in English) wasn't as good as the translations of the Anne or Emily books I'm used to reading. I'd like to give this another read in English some time. I definititely loved it well enough to buy it some time, so I'm sure it will happen.(less)
Unlike many other LMM novels, I read this one for the first time in adulthood. I was apprehensive about how I would take it, not having fond childhood...moreUnlike many other LMM novels, I read this one for the first time in adulthood. I was apprehensive about how I would take it, not having fond childhood memories connected to it, but I turned out to love it quite a bit. It's probably not going to be one of my favourite LMM novels, because Pat as a heroine is a bit too passive, her main characteristic being resistance to change and so every conflict in the story being the result of outside forces. It's not as interesting as heroines who have a powerful drive for something inside them and so cause many of their life events themselves, for example Valancy, Emily or Anne. But I still find Pat an endearing and likeable heroine in her deep love of nature, things and people, and Judy Plum is a deliciously entertaining character. On the other hand, most other characters (with the exception of Jingle) are unusually shallowly characterised for a Montgomery book, and I often felt that Judy's cat and Jingle's dog showed more personality than most of Pat's family.
It's beautifully written, and while Pat in the end of the book seems almost as resistant to change as she is in the beginning, it seems she has learned a great deal about coping with it nevertheless and I really like how she grows during the story. I look forward to reading the sequel, Mistress Pat.(less)
I've last read this book a long, long time ago in my childhood. I think the previous translation I read must have been much worse than the new transla...moreI've last read this book a long, long time ago in my childhood. I think the previous translation I read must have been much worse than the new translation which came out (I've again read the book in Finnish, not yet in English) as I was much more enchanted by it this time around. It's more episodic than Montgomery's other work, and it's different from her other novels in that the point of view character is a boy, and the story is told in first person, though the imaginative, artistic girl described (Sara, the Story Girl of the title) is not whose point of view it is in. I found all the stories within this story quite charming and the atmosphere enchanting, full of sweetness and tang of childhood like a frosty, clear autumn morning smelling of ripening apples.
I remember that as a child I admired the Story Girl endlessly, couldn't stand Felicity and thought Beverley was a bit stilly for liking Felicity at all. Now I actually find that though the Story Girl is charming, she is also a bit arrogant and over-dramatic, and I can understand and appreciate Felicity. My favourite characters, though, are Cecily and Peter, and I'm also fond of Beverley who is a more real and vivid boy than most of Montgomery's male characters (I think it helps he doesn't need to be anyone's love interest, so he can be real).(less)
This is one of my favourite books in the world. Like much of L.M. Montgomery's fiction, the story is fairly sweet and simple (though with more adult t...moreThis is one of my favourite books in the world. Like much of L.M. Montgomery's fiction, the story is fairly sweet and simple (though with more adult themes than the books considered juvenile fiction), style beautiful and feel-good, but that shouldn't make you think it doesn't have deep and meaningful content. In my opinion it tells more about life and people than several more difficult and ponderous books which try too hard to be impressive and too little to tell a story with fascinating characters. Montgomery's characters and world are real, yet beautiful, and give you lots of faith that you, too, can live a life that's true and beautiful.
The Blue Castle tells the story of Valancy Stirling, a young woman who wakes up 29 years old and an old maid to the realisation that she has never truly lived. Her 29th birthday starts a chain of events that leads her to change her life so that she might at least truly live it before she dies. It's a lovely story about overcoming your fears and daring to change your life and follow your dreams, about how it's never too late to start over, about how you don't need grandiose and extraordinary things in order to be happy and content, you simply need life and opening up yourself to the wonderful things that exist; and about how even more difficult than learning to love is to learn to believe you can be loved.
This book always fills me with hope, happiness and faith in myself and the world. (less)
It occurs to me that though I finished my last reread quite a while ago, I haven't yet typed up my review. Well, here goes.
It's difficult for me to kn...moreIt occurs to me that though I finished my last reread quite a while ago, I haven't yet typed up my review. Well, here goes.
It's difficult for me to know how to describe my feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's the closing volume to my favourite L.M. Montgomery series starring my favourite heroine, Emily, whom I've always felt close to and who was one of the principal helpers in getting me through the pre-teen and teen years when I felt quite alone in my love of books, writing and beauty and in not wanting to meld into the crowd. Having paragons like Emily made it much easier to be me, and so these books will always hold a very special place for my heart; and also just for the immense beauty of their writing and the fascinating characterisations. This book, too, has much that's wonderfully written, and many interesting psychological moments.
At the same time, I know I'm not even alone in feeling that this conclusion to the Emily series is less satisfying than it could be. It's so sad, dark and painful, there's so much trouble and relatively little happiness, that it departs from the hopeful and comforting tone of the previous books and makes the reader feel the author puts her characters through way too much trouble for no clear reason. I've always felt that this volume concentrates too much on Emily's romantic difficulties and too little on other aspects of her life and personality, and the result is a little dissatisfying especially as her chosen romantic partner is not characterised deeply enough to make you really feel they belong together. Montgomery generally has difficulties creating interesting love interests, and especially in the Emily books I find that the strongest relationship is between Emily and her best friend Ilse, not between Emily and any of the men interested in her.
These criticisms aside, I still love this book greatly. There's a haunting beauty in it, and some bittersweet, mature feeling which I only found myself able to appreciate on this reread, now that I'm older than before and have learned something about growing up and knowing life isn't only the dreamland you fancy it to be when you're young. There was something there that deeply resonated with me; but I still feel that too much attention was devoted to Emily's romantic difficulties and the pain associated with them, and too little to the happy things and triumphs that nevertheless are present in her adult life but glossed over too quickly. The book would be more satisfying if the pain and the happiness were more evenly balanced, and if the resolution of the conflicts wasn't so painfully drawn out and then the book brought to such an abrupt end as soon as things start working out.(less)
The Emily books have been with me for a longer time than most people I know. I have no idea how many times I've read them, and I could probably quote...moreThe Emily books have been with me for a longer time than most people I know. I have no idea how many times I've read them, and I could probably quote many passages from them by heart. How can one review such books, then? I won't try. I will only say that these books delight me to no end, and Emily Climbs is perhaps my favourite of the trilogy, because of the youthful dreaminess and enthusiasm of Emily, because it has so much about her writing and I don't know for what other reasons. Montgomery's writing is beautiful and charming, she can make her characters so real and alive, and her books give me great joy.(less)