Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Reviews: The "Emily" Trilogy

I first fell in love with Lucy Maud Montgomery's books as a tween. My mother would bring home a new book every so often, and I could hardly wait for her to finish it so I could gobble them up. Fortunately for me, my mother is a fast reader.

Most known for her Anne of Green Gables series, L.M. Montgomery has actually written over 20 books. Aside from Anne, my favorites are the Emily of New Moon trilogy.

We're introduced to our heroine in book 1, Emily of New Moon. At the tender age of eleven Emily - who's all ready lost a mother she can barely remember - experiences the death of a most loved father, which rips her world apart. Suddenly she's faced with leaving the home she loves and being forced to go live with family members she never knew existed. Yet her new life offers more friendship, love and opportunities to love and grow than she'd ever had before. Her greatest success comes from helping her best friend Ilse, and Ilse's father, discover one another in a most unusual way. Add to their friendship those of artistic Teddy Kent of the Tansy Patch, and Perry Miller of the "lowborn Stovepipe Town" who has high hopes and ambitions (one including Emily), and a better and more lively group of friends you could rarely meet. Little Emily also begins to realize her love of writing could turn out to be something more than just a hobby, even if Aunt Elizabeth doesn't truly understand.

In book 2, Emily Climbs, Emily dearly wants to go to high school in Shrewsberry, but Aunt Elizabeth doesn't approve. What need does a girl of New Moon have of furthering an education when her real goal should be to improve herself enough to catch a husband? Fortune favors young Emily, however, and off to Shrewsberry she goes - but not without a few thorns. There she is to board with her detested Aunt Ruth, a most formidable woman who feels it is merely her "duty" to allow Emily to stay there for the next three years.

Emily's life is certainly not dull during these three years. She meets a girl with whom she feels immediate enmity - reciprocated, of course. Then come the many rejections, and acceptances, of her writing in various magazines, which leads her aunts and uncles to wonder if this "writing nonsense" might not be such a bad thing after all. During her escapades she and Ilse meet the woman who spanked the king, not to mention Emily's peculiar gift helps saves the life of a little boy. Of course no book about a teenage heroine is complete without just a little romance. Emily finds herself trying to keep off the attentions of one boy (the very one who Aunt Ruth catches trying to kiss her niece in the living room in the middle of the night!), while glowing under the attentions of another (what 14 year-old girl doesn't want to be told she's the sweetest girl in the world?). But none of this compares to meeting an idol who offers Emily the chance of a lifetime.

At last we come to book 3, Emily's Quest, where we watch Emily go through the high's and low's of professional writing, friendship, and love. Emily has chosen to stay home at New Moon where she determines her writing will not grow stagnant. Her aunts and uncles finally begin recognizing her gift as being worthy of the time Emily puts in to her scribbling. All the writing in the world doesn't help dull the pang of watching as her three best friends go haring off around the world, furthering their own work and educations. Just when Emily begins to think she might have a chance to gain her heart's desire, tragedy strikes, taking more than just her ability to walk (for a while), but her gift for writing. During this darkest time Emily matures more than her mere 18 years, and someone who has been waiting in the wings suddenly finds Emily might not be so against their huge age difference. Has he at last gained his greatest dream? Will the true love of Emily's heart ever be hers? Will true happiness come to these four friends? In this last book we come to a fulfilling ending, even in seeing Emily's first book published and a few mysteries solved.

1 comment:

Burwell's Bits said...

Read them all. Loved them. Look forward to Riley reading and loving them.