The ‘Emily’ Novels, L. M. Montgomery

Emily.jpeg
The Flash

It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.

The moment came rarely—went swiftly, leaving her breathless with the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it—never summon it—never pretend it, but the wonder of it stayed with her for days….

 

I discovered Anne of Green Gables as an adult, somehow missing this whole wonderful world as a young girl. A friend who knows me well bet me I would like the Emily of New Moon series better. I thought, sacrilege!, but she is right. I have become completely enamored with what Montgomery does with fantasy and Nature. And while it blooms in Anne, it is a starburst in Emily.

Anne Shirley personifies trees, forests, flowers and springs. Emily Byrd Starr does the same, but in addition, she also has The Wind Woman and the flash. These latter two are supernatural and fairy-like reminding me of the innocent childhood inventiveness that we are supposed to grow out of, but that many of us Will Not Ever.

Though I live in an urban area, coyotes roam the streets and nap on the greens, all kinds coyote1of raptors fly through the air, I watch water birds gracefully hunt their breakfast at the river and jump when raccoons and possums dart through the bushes. They remind me to whom this land really belongs. I love to imagine all sorts of things about them. I love my crepe myrtle tree in the front yard and consider it my protector and I call an incredibly large, gnarled old tree down the street, Grandfather. I don’t know if any of this is weird, normal or if I need therapy, but I think this is why I am so drawn to the spiritual fey of  L. M. Montgomery.

Just last night I was reading a favorite passage from Emily Climbs. It has all the elements of imagination, connection to nature and creative thought Montgomery does so well. Though Emily is walking home alone in the middle of the night, she is really being escorted along the way by an incredible cast of non-human characters.

As she walked along she dramatized the night. There was about it a wild, lawless charm that appealed to a certain wild, lawless strain hidden deep in Emily’s nature—a strain that wished to walk where it would with no guidance but its own—the strain of the gypsy and the poet, the genius and the fool.

The big fir trees, released from their burden of snow, were tossing their arms freely and wildly and gladly across the moonlit fields. Was ever anything so beautiful as the shadows of those grey, clean-limbed maples on the road at her feet?

And it was easy to think, too, that other things were abroad—things that were not mortal or human. She always lived on the edge of fairyland and now she stepped right over it. The Wind Woman was really whistling eerily in the reeds of the swamp—she was sure she heard the dear, diabolical chuckles of owls in the spruce copses—something frisked across her path—it might be a rabbit or it might be a Little Grey Person: the trees put on half pleasing, half terrifying shapes they never wore by day. The dead thistles of last year were goblin groups along the fences: that shaggy old yellow birch was some satyr of the woodland: the footsteps of the old gods echoed around her: those gnarled stumps on the hill field were surely Pan piping through moonlight and shadow with his troop of laughing fauns. It was delightful to believe they were.

Emily is a young writer and crosses the line between fantasy and reality on an almost daily basis, by which she is jeered at and criticized by her reality-based family. It never daunts her, though, no matter how hot the teasing. She is secure in how she sees the world, which is my lesson. She is my role model.

 

Trail walking with Jess
Trail walking with Jess in a magical gum grove.

 

______________________

Montgomery, L. M. Emily Climbs. New York: Bantam, 1993. First published in 1925 by Frederick A. Stokes Co.

 Montgomery, L.M. Emily of New Moon. New York: Harper and Row, 1993. First published in 1923 by Frederick A. Stokes Co.

 

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8 thoughts on “The ‘Emily’ Novels, L. M. Montgomery

  1. thatdeborahgirl

    Hey! The passage you quoted and how you talk about Montgomery intertwining nature with fantasy reminds me of a brief section of “Anne of Avonlea” where her student Paul Irving has imaginary Rock People on the shore.

    I’m not sure I’d do well with Emily because I’ve glossed over or skimmed even some of the longer nature passages in Anne and other novels I’ve read. The idea of a whole series going on like that seems daunting, but I’ll probably read it anyhow just for the fun of finding out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really liked the Paul Irving passages.

      In my opinion, the Emily series is more mature if that is the right word. Emily doesn’t go as much into the flights of fancy Anne does, so you might give it a try.

      Emily has known from a young age she wants to be a writer, but once her father dies and she goes to live with her aunt’s family, they do every thing they can to keep her from it. It’s very different from the Anne series.

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  3. I’ve only just recently heard of this series and I have a hard time imagining it wouldn’t be sweet and charming. I’m not sure if I’d also like it better than the Anne series, since I don’t particularly remember the nature writing when I think about those books, but I expect I’d like it at least as much 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ‘nature writing’ for me is the way Anne names trees and paths and natural areas. I loved that in the Anne series. In the Emily series there is some of that, but also, in my opinion, a more spiritual take on all this and other experiences that happen to her. Emily also has a very different personality than Anne that appealed to me more. I would say to at least give the first book a try and see what you think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Being in tune with nature is one of the more rewarding aspects to life. I also love the natural aspects of the area that I live in.

    I love it when fiction interrelates with such themes. Emily’s self confidence in the face of folks who do not understand makes her sound like a super character to read about. I am currently reading Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. That book has similar themes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oo, I can’t wait to read The Mysteries of Udolpho. I am so curious about it and the other ‘horrid novles!’ I found all of them on Kindle. I just need time 🙂

      The personality of Emily is very different from Anne and for me, more relatable. In a way, more realistic.

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