Comfort Reading: An unplanned review

So much for one book per week. My ambitious new year’s resolution hadn’t counted on the combination of a stomach flu + packing up my entire house + another bleepin’ stomach flu. I stressed over missing the first week, then just decided to let go. I will make up for it with a few double-review weeks. I promise. (not to mention the fact that two of my previous reviews have been for trilogies. I knew I should have banked those reviews for unexpected downtime!)

But let’s move on, to a review of a trilogy of books I did not expect to include here. Part of the stress involved in not feeling well while trying to coordinate a move and a major renovation meant that even when I did have downtime, I did not want to read. Correction: I didn’t want to read anything in my current to-be-read pile. I am halfway through Moby Dick, and Alexander MacLeod’s “Light Lifting.” But couldn’t pick up either.

Saturday night, exhausted and cranky, I decided it was time for a comfort read, and I took myself to the top shelf of the bookcase in the spare room, where I keep all the books I like to go back to in times of stress. My choice that night: Emily of New Moon – which of course led to reading Emily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest.

Author: L.M. Montgomery
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Date: 1923/1925/1927
ISBN-10: 0770427715
ISBN-13: 978-0770427719

Now, if you aren’t an L.M. Montgomery fan, based solely on an overexposure to Anne Shirley (who I adore, but I can still understand the sentiment) don’t be quick to judge Emily. Any fan of Montgomery’s work I talk to will eventually admit that Emily is her most interesting heroine, and I would argue that this trilogy is her most well-written series.

Emily is an orphan, living a beautiful PEI farmhouse house with two older women (and an elder cousin as well). She longs to be a famous writer. But her similarity to Anne ends there. Emily is so much more real. She knows herself better. She knows her heart better.  She does not compromise. She makes some very bad choices and actually has to live with the consequences (everything in the Anne books just turns out so peachy-keen all the time).

And the secondary characters are fantastic. Mr. Carpenter, the alcoholic schoolteacher, prone to abusive tirades but loved nonetheless. Dean Priest, lame, hunchbacked and bitter – borderline pedophilic (is that a word?). There are references and descriptions of death and scandal that would never have been touched in Avonlea – even a shocking reference to domestic violence that I had never picked up on until this most recent read-through.

“People were never right in saying I was Anne. But in some respects, they will be right if they write me down as Emily.” ~ L.M. Montgomery

The Emily books will take you away to the magical innocent world that only Montgomery can create, but then shake you up every now and then, as if to remind you that Montgomery’s life was no picnic. Montgomery was copying her early journals while writing Emily, and the events of her own life strongly influenced the plot.

In summary – completely worth reading, even if you aren’t an Anne Shirley fan. There’s a definite touch of that style, but a far more readable series.

Note: There is an Emily of New Moon TV series. I am not a fan.

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One thought on “Comfort Reading: An unplanned review

  1. Another great review Natalie!!

    I was thinking about these books this past weekend and that I need to read them again. You have inspired me to pick them up ASAP.

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