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One From the Archive: ‘Jane of Lantern Hill’ by L.M. Montgomery ****

Canadian author L.M. Montgomery’s Jane of Lantern Hill is another new addition to the expanding range of children’s books upon the Virago Modern Classics list.  The novel was first published in 1937, and is set in both Toronto and on Prince Edward Island, where the author herself lived.  Montgomery is best known for her series featuring Anne Shirley, which begins with the classic novel Anne of Green Gables. 9780349004440

In Jane of Lantern Hill, one of Montgomery’s standalone novels, Jane Stuart and her mother have lived in a ‘gloomy old mansion’ in Toronto for as long as she can remember: ‘Gay Street, so Jane always thought, did not live up to its name.  It was, she felt certain, the most melancholy street in Toronto… though, to be sure, she had not seen a great many of the Toronto streets in her circumscribed comings and goings of eleven years’.  Their lives are ‘ruled by her overbearing grandmother’ Mrs Kennedy, who shows distaste about everything which her granddaughter says and does.  This causes Jane to harbour feelings about her grandmother which she feels rather guilty about: ‘There were times Jane was afraid she did hate grandmother, which was dreadful, because grandmother was feeding and clothing and educating her.  Jane knew she ought to love grandmother, but it seemed a very hard thing to do’.

Jane is a rather lonely child, who has been told that her father is dead.  She has also been taught to hate him, despite having no memories of him.  She has only one friend to speak of – Josephine Turner, or Jody, who lives in the boarding house next door.  One April morning, however, she receives an invitation from her father to spend her summer with him on Prince Edward Island.  This single piece of paper drastically changes her life forever: ‘It was only three minutes since Jane had brought the letter in, and in those three minutes the world had turned upside down.  Jane felt as if a gulf had opened between her and all humankind’.  Despite her foreboding, however, Jane has a lovely time with her father, learning that life is there to be enjoyed and not stifled.

From the start, Jane is a darling character, who has such a vivid imagination and such lovely ideas.  She believes that Gay Street should really be filled with ‘gay, friendly houses… with trees that waved hands at you and windows that winked at you in the twilights’.  She is a spirited and rather strong protagonist, who does not allow anyone to chastise her without trying to stick up for herself as the book goes on.

The volume’s beautiful cover has been drawn by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, and its artwork suits the book perfectly.  Jane of Lantern Hill is a charming, quaint and well-written story from one of Canada’s most beloved authors.  It is sure to delight children and adults alike, and is a perfect read for long summer days.

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Classics Club #23: ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L.M. Montgomery ****

I chose to read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables whilst on a weekend trip to France back in February.  I had originally planned to get to it at some point over the summer, but after hearing how much Yamini loved Anne, I decided to move it up my list.  I was very much looking forward to meeting Montgomery’s young protagonist, and she certainly did not disappoint.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, siblings and residents of a lovely old house named Green Gables in Avonlea, a small fictional town on Prince Edward Island, have decided to adopt a child.  They think they will be getting a boy who can help around their farm, but a miscommunication means that Anne is sent instead.  A very shaky start ensues, with Marilla adamant that Anne should be sent back to the ‘orphan asylum’ whence she came and a boy sent in her place.  Matthew, however, soon finds himself revelling in her refreshing, youthful company: ‘Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. Like most quiet folks he liked talkative people when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect him to keep up his end of it’.

Since her parents died when she was just a baby, Anne professes that she has always been ‘unwanted’.  She has consequently been batted around from one family to the next, often serving to look after young children, and merely wants an opportunity to settle down and forge a stable life for herself.  Montgomery deals, both deftly and sensitively, with Anne’s moving to Avonlea and making friends, the problems and obstacles which she comes across during the process, and the often ingenious ways in which she overcomes them.

The initial description of Anne is darling, and really gives one a feel for her character.  One of the main attributes which she has is her red hair, something which she hates: ‘“You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair,” said Anne reproachfully. “People who haven’t red hair don’t know what trouble is.”’.  Anne is so endearing, and holds all of those characteristics which are so delightful in young girls; she is wonderfully chatty, inquisitive, prone to daydreaming, and has a vivid imagination which allows her to better any awful situation in which she finds herself: ‘Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while’.  She is spirited, kind and thoughtful, and, above all, a rather loveable protagonist.  Anne is also most open about her past, and is overall so glad of being alive, despite the hardships which have befallen her.  She is rather melodramatic, but that is all part of her charm.  She is the very best of protagonists in children’s fiction, for a lot can be learnt from her.  She has a marvellous attitude, particularly in the face of adversity, and I believe that she would make a great role model for impressionable young girls.

In Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery has created a charming and absolutely delightful tale.  Anne grows up believably through the course of the novel.  The whole has been lovingly written, and it is clear that the author cared a lot for her young character.  Anne of Green Gables is a wonderful novel to come to for the first time as an adult.  Had I read it as a child, I imagine that I would have been utterly enchanted by it.  I am very much looking forward to seeing where Anne’s adventures take her next.

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‘Jane of Lantern Hill’ by L.M. Montgomery ****

Canadian author L.M. Montgomery’s Jane of Lantern Hill is another new addition to the expanding range of children’s books upon the Virago Modern Classics list.  The novel was first published in 1937, and is set in both Toronto and on Prince Edward Island, where the author herself lived.  Montgomery is best known for her series featuring Anne Shirley, which begins with the classic novel Anne of Green Gables.

‘Jane of Lantern Hill’ (Virago)

In Jane of Lantern Hill, one of Montgomery’s standalone novels, Jane Stuart and her mother have lived in a ‘gloomy old mansion’ in Toronto for as long as she can remember: ‘Gay Street, so Jane always thought, did not live up to its name.  It was, she felt certain, the most melancholy street in Toronto… though, to be sure, she had not seen a great many of the Toronto streets in her circumscribed comings and goings of eleven years’.  Their lives are ‘ruled by her overbearing grandmother’ Mrs Kennedy, who shows distaste about everything which her granddaughter says and does.  This causes Jane to harbour feelings about her grandmother which she feels rather guilty about: ‘There were times Jane was afraid she did hate grandmother, which was dreadful, because grandmother was feeding and clothing and educating her.  Jane knew she ought to love grandmother, but it seemed a very hard thing to do’.

Jane is a rather lonely child, who has been told that her father is dead.  She has also been taught to hate him, despite having no memories of him.  She has only one friend to speak of – Josephine Turner, or Jody, who lives in the boarding house next door.  One April morning, however, she receives an invitation from her father to spend her summer with him on Prince Edward Island.  This single piece of paper drastically changes her life forever: ‘It was only three minutes since Jane had brought the letter in, and in those three minutes the world had turned upside down.  Jane felt as if a gulf had opened between her and all humankind’.  Despite her foreboding, however, Jane has a lovely time with her father, learning that life is there to be enjoyed and not stifled.

From the start, Jane is a darling character, who has such a vivid imagination and such lovely ideas.  She believes that Gay Street should really be filled with ‘gay, friendly houses… with trees that waved hands at you and windows that winked at you in the twilights’.  She is a spirited and rather strong protagonist, who does not allow anyone to chastise her without trying to stick up for herself as the book goes on.

The volume’s beautiful cover has been drawn by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, and its artwork suits the book perfectly.  Jane of Lantern Hill is a charming, quaint and well-written story from one of Canada’s most beloved authors.  It is sure to delight children and adults alike, and is a perfect read for long summer days.

Purchase from The Book Depository

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Wednesday Wishlist: Classic Novels

Below are five classic novels which I am lusting after.  They are all books which I feel I should have already read, particularly as a literature student.

1. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I so enjoyed Tess of the d’Urbervilles and feel that I really should read more of Hardy’s works. The story in this novel looks like a wonderful one.

2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I have never read any Flaubert, but this novel has been downloaded on my Kindle for quite some time now.  Perhaps I will finally get around to reading it this year!

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I have had a physical copy of this novel for around four years, but the sheer size of it and tiny print size has really put me off.  I think the plot sounds fascinating and I have heard only good things about it, so this is another I really should get around to reading.

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
For some unknown reason, this passed me by in my childhood, and I am certain that I would have adored the story.  Anne looks like a marvellous heroine, and I cannot wait to read about her.

5. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I remember watching an amateur production of Treasure Island when I was younger and I absolutely adored it, so I struggle to see why I’ve not read it thus far!