Emily of New Moon: A Virago Modern Classic (Emily Trilogy) by L M Montgomery

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Emily of New Moon: A Virago Modern Classic (Emily Trilogy) by L M Montgomery

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Quite different to Anne of Green Gables, but full of charm and incredibly readable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Virago
ISBN: 978-1844089888

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I think I should confess, before I write this review, that I am a true Lucy Maud Montgomery geek! I have loved her books since I was a little girl, and I have read them so many times that the covers are worn and faded and her stories live inside of me, at least in part making me who I am. I wrote my masters dissertation on her books. I went to Prince Edward Island, Canada, for a conference about her works. I came back with a bottle of red sand and a heart full of memories. If anyone ever mentions Anne of Green Gables in my presence my eyes get very large and I get very excited (and my husband rolls his eyes...) So it is with trepidation that I sit down to review one of her books. Bear with me, I will try not to geek out too much, and I will do my best to be fair!

First of all, we need to talk about the cover of this new edition from Virago Modern Classics, because it's absolutely beautiful. Dear old Emily is portrayed, sitting reading under an apple tree with a cat sitting at her feet. It's just about perfect, as far as book covers go and the only thing I would have changed, if I'd had anything to do with it, is the fact that Emily is reading rather than writing. For if this story is about anything it is about Emily's first steps towards a career as a writer. She writes letters to her dead father. She writes fanciful stories. And, most of all, she writes poetry. It isn't very good poetry (rather like poor Lucy Maud Montgomery's own poetry) as it tends to be very Victorian in nature, rather flowery and formal and over-loaded with the word 'purple'. Still, she writes. She writes whenever and wherever she can, and because of this I have always felt that Emily was rather similar to LMM herself and it was because of this that I loved Emily as a teenager when I spent rather more time than I should have writing truly terrible poetry.

Anne of Green Gables (my very favourite book ever) portrays a little orphan girl who is sweet and sunny, in spite of a few tempestuous outbursts, usually in relation to comments about her red hair. Emily, also an orphan, is darker and more secretive. With Anne you always know what to expect, but with Emily you're never quite sure how things will go. She is proud, fiercely so, but also sensitive and unsure of herself. She's more magical than Anne, in that she experiences a strange 'flash' of emotion at times, when things move her extraordinarily deeply, and she also experiences strange almost out-of-body situations, rather disturbing for her strict and straight family. Her story revolves around her moving to a new home, to 'New Moon' to live with her dead mother's family. Until this time she has been living with her father but when he dies from consumption she is left to the mercies of her estranged mother's family. The family, all unwilling to take her in, draw lots to choose who will take up the duty of raising Emily. As you can see, it's not the nicest way to come about a new home.

Emily soon finds she loves 'New Moon' however, and she begins to settle there. Although I read this book many, many times when I was growing up it has been many years since I picked up any of the Emily trilogy. The Anne stories I re-read regularly, but Emily seemed to belong to my teenage years, and I had never ventured back. I had forgotten a lot of the charm of the story. I love the friendship that Emily makes with a wild, motherless girl in the village called Ilse. They have the most marvellous fights, with Ilse calling Emily dreadful names and Emily making Ilse even wilder by just smiling at her quietly! Ilse and Emily are also very good friends with a boy in the village, who lives with his crazy mother, Teddy Kent. Teddy is the hero, but I confess that unlike Gilbert in the Anne stories, Teddy never became one of my literary crushes. I always felt he was a little flat as a character somehow. But anyway, in this story he is just a little boy, although we do see the beginning's of Emily's attachment to him. The final friend who makes up their foursome is Perry, a hired boy who lives and works at New Moon but is full of verve and certain to make something of himself. I like Perry. He makes me laugh and where Teddy is flat, Perry is full of life.

So, Emily grows and learns and makes friends and uncovers secrets. One of the key events in this book is when she meets Dean Priest, a former college-mate of her father's. Dean saves her life, and he befriends her in the process. You might, at this point, ask what business a thirty-plus year old man has to be making friends with a ten year old little girl and if you did you'd be treading on dangerous territory! Part of my geekiness has led to my being part of an email group called the Kindred Spirit Mailing List for the past seventeen years and there have been many, many discussions about the rightness and wrongness of Dean and Emily's relationship! Anyway, this is when they meet and Emily finds in Dean a very satisfactory friend and companion, someone who can challenge her and help her to learn as her father no longer can. Emily learns a great deal, about herself, about writing, and about her family. She has a near-death experience (or two), and she uncovers the mystery about Ilse's mother than has remained a dark and unspoken secret for many years.

It's a beautiful book. I like the story very much and although I am not always certain that I like Emily herself, or that she would like me, I always find her fascinating to read about. I've taken away half a star for the over-abundance of flowery poetry in the book, but otherwise this is a classic, enjoyable story whether you're eleven years old or, well, quite a bit older than that! The delightful cover means this would make a perfect gift, for yourself or for someone you know might enjoy a story about a little girl learning how to write.

I would highly recommend the modern classic children's story The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall or I know many LMM fans who also love Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Buy Emily of New Moon: A Virago Modern Classic (Emily Trilogy) by L M Montgomery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Emily of New Moon: A Virago Modern Classic (Emily Trilogy) by L M Montgomery at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Emily of New Moon: A Virago Modern Classic (Emily Trilogy) by L M Montgomery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Emily of New Moon: A Virago Modern Classic (Emily Trilogy) by L M Montgomery at Amazon.com.


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