Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

   cover

*****Emily of New Moon

by L. M. Montgomery

Reviewed October 26, 2004.
Seal Books, Toronto, 1985.  Originally published in 1925.  339 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004,
#1, Young Adult and Children's Classics

I used to tell my friends that, if it weren’t heresy, I’d say that I liked the Emily books even better than Anne of Green Gables.  Later on, I read that Madeleine L’Engle considered them her favorites, so I can freely admit that I like Emily even more than the more famous and much-beloved Anne.  And why not?  Anne of Green Gables was L. M. Montgomery’s first published novel, but the Emily books were written after years of experience, at the height of her powers.

Emily, like Anne, is an orphan.  Unlike Anne, she’s the member of a distinguished family with a long history of traditions.  When her father dies, her relatives decide by lot who will get her.  She goes to live at New Moon farm, with strict, unimaginative Aunt Elizabeth, kind but overshadowed Aunt Laura, and Cousin Jimmy, who’s not “all there.”

If you read L. M. Montgomery’s wonderful published journals, you’ll also learn that Emily is a girl very like Lucy Maud Montgomery was herself.  Emily is an irrepressible, imaginative child who finds a companion in The Wind Woman and names the beautiful trees and valleys of New Moon.  When she goes to school and befriends the fiery Ilse Burnley, their antics keep her aunts wondering what to expect next.

Emily is also a girl with a dream, a dream of being a writer.  Aunt Elizabeth doesn’t approve of writing or reading novels, so Emily hides her writing on the backs of letter-bills up in the garret (just as L. M. Montgomery did herself).  She pursues her dream despite a teacher who sneers at her and her aunt who simply doesn’t understand.

The Emily books will be especially dear to any girl who dreams of being a writer.  They’ll understand Emily’s rapture at finding a good line, as well as her fears:  “Another thing that worries me, if I do grow up and write a wonderful poem, perhaps people won’t see how wonderful it is.”

These books are sure to make you smile, providing a wholesome, humorous story of an orphan girl with an unquenchable spirit.  I like to read them at least once every year or so to uplift my spirit and to inspire me to keep writing.

Reviews of other L. M. Montgomery books: The Blue Castle
Kilmeny of the Orchard

The Emily Series:
Emily Climbs
Emily's Quest

The Anne Series:
Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of the Island
Anne of Windy Poplars
Anne's House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside
The Road to Yesterday

Before Green Gables, by Budge Wilson

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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