Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

Whether you loved or hated Anne of Green Gables, Emily is the superior Heroine.

“If you’ve brains it’s better than beauty – brains last, beauty doesn’t.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 417 pages.
Read from July 7, 2017 to July 14, 2017.

This book was first published in 1923 and has never been out of print since. How’s that for a legacy! Montgomery was also writing and publishing before women even had the right to vote and her writing has been inspiring young women for nearly 100 years.

I had the second book in this trilogy on my shelf growing up but because I was a nerd and wanted to read things in order and so I never actually got around to reading this book as a tween. A shame really, as I am certain I would have been obsessed with Emily.  As someone who is indifferent to the story of Anne of Green Gables, reading this book was initially out of duty to the fact that it sat neglected on my bookshelf for decades.

Emily is just a young child when she is sent to live with her mother’s relatives of whom she has never met.  Her mother passed away from consumption years earlier and her father has now just passed. Having learned that her mother eloped with her father, her mother’s side of the family, the Murray’s, were keen to keep that disgrace away from the family name but knew that they must take care of the child out of duty. Nobody wanted poor Emily. After some reluctant decisions (and being forced to part with one of her cats), Emily was sent to live with her stern Aunt Elizabeth in New Moon.

Emily learns that her mother’s side of the family is fairly well off and that the family is well respected in the area. However, even if humble, Emily misses her home and her father. She makes friends with her cousin Jimmy, the first of the Murray clan to be kind to her, as well as with their neighbour Teddy, Isle unforgettably fierce tomboy, and the young boy that helps out on the Murray plot, Perry. Stubborn, serious and imaginative, Emily slowly adjusts to her new way of life at New Moon and even comes to like it, but her strong-will continuously gets her trouble with her Aunt and family. Emily wonders if she will ever feel accepted, loved or appreciated in her new home, especially with her growing talent and desire to write.

You know why this book is awesome? Because Emily is smart, fierce, ambitious, thoughtful and imaginative. She also has thirst for knowledge, is a loyal friend, and has an intense appreciation for nature. Whether in 1923 or the present, girls need great characters like Emily to let them know that anything is possible. What makes Emily a better heroine than Anne is that Emily is by far less dramatic and a bit more complex. She is more serious and considerate than Anne and is able to work through troubling situations with a bit more grace. Emily and the plot, in general, have a darker tone than Anne of Green Gables but it is still whimsical and playful.

I loved Emily. If I had read this book as a tween I would have sworn that I was Emily; serious, stubborn, loves cats, imaginative and a passion for writing at a young age. It was the connection with Emily that made me enjoy her story more than Anne’s and also made me want to pursue reading the whole trilogy of her books, something that I do not do often.

“The universe is full of love and spring comes everywhere.”

So while this book had similar features to Anne of Green Gables, this story felt more successful. Emily is dynamic and while she has similar personality features to Anne there is more depth to the story of Emily and a realism that is not matched in Anne of Green Gables. Emily’s story is written 15 years after the publication of Anne’s and it is clear that Montgomery improved her writing during that time.

Whether you loved or hated Anne of Green Gables, both are valid feelings and reasons to read this book and enjoy its amazing characters and story.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 333 pages.
Read from June 13, 2017 to June 19, 2017.

Don’t ask me how I did not manage to read this book when I was a child. Most Canadian girls have read this yet some how it alluded me. However, I am glad I read this book as an adult as I do not think I would have appreciated it in my youth.

Anne’s young life has been a trying one. She has spent the last few years in an orphanage after both of her parents passed away. Despite the fact that they specifically wanted a boy, Anne is temporarily taken in by Matthew and Marilla Cuthburt who live in the Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island. Anne must then convince the couple that she is worth keeping. The problem being that Anne is wildly imaginative, talkative, and has a temper that is as fiery as her flame-red hair. Matthew instantly takes a liking Anne, despite him normally being shy and reserved, but Marilla however, will take more convincing. Anne wants nothing more than to be loved after feeling unwanted and abandoned for so long but can she still be herself and convince the Cuthburt’s that she worthy of their home?

“I’ve just been imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and that I was to stay here for ever and ever. It was a great comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”

Anne has a wonderful imagination. That was by far my favourite aspect of the book, however I found Anne to be so damn dramatic that it was borderline annoying. While I appreciate how brave and ballsy she can be at times, which I would have adored in my youth, her dramatics would have also likely put me off the book. For example:

  • “I can’t cheer up — I don’t want to cheer up. It’s nicer to be miserable!”
  • “I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when
    you are in the depths of despair?”

However, you have to give it to Anne, she is unique through and through and her story is fun and adventurous. Montgomery’s writing style is lovely as well. She mixes chapters that have a third person narrator to direct first person accounts from Anne’s diary (spelling mistakes and all). It is easy to see how this book became so acclaimed and how it wormed its way into the hearts of so many readers.

While I enjoyed the book and all of Anne’s little adventures, I do not feel inclined to read the rest of the book in the trilogy as I did not connect with Anne’s character as much as I was hoping to. However, the Canadian setting was gorgeously depicted and I can’t fault any details of the plot line as the book kept me highly engaged. Overall I would recommend this book for any young girl of reading age or for any Canadian who has yet to read this timeless classic.

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