Ok, so I love Lucy Maud Montgomery. I have said it before, and I will say it again. She taught me to love reading, I’ve read all of her books, and I still like to read them from time to time. So, I guess I shouldn’t be counting reading The Story Girl and The Golden Road into my challenge, but… This year I got my hands on the original, English versions. It felt totally different reading it in a different language, especially since for some reason the Polish translation I have at home is missing a few paragraphs. And I read them from the first to the last page, unlike reading a few random chapters, as I have been so many times in the past.
So, I’m putting this in my challenge. After all, I’ve read them this year.
The Story Girl is the first part; it begins when Beverly and Felix King, brothers, come to the old farm on Prince Edwards Island for a summer, maybe longer. They meet their cousins there, Cecily, Felicity, Dan King and Sara Stanley, called the Story Girl. With a neighboring kid Sara Ray and a hired boy Peter Craig, they form a friendship and have many adventures. Well, they’re not big adventures of going abroad and slaying some dragons, but every-day tales of life in the country. From writing down their dreams, to telling a sermon to the other kids.
The Golden Road is a continuation and begins when they children decide to start their magazine and call it Our Magazine. Besides that, it’s basically about the same thing – children aged 11-15 having adventures (for lack of a better word).
There is a slight difference, though. The golden road is what Maud called childhood and teenage years are the end of that road. Maybe that’s the reason the second part seems more mature, or more melancholic, sad even. It’s a nice touch (for both books) that Bev, the narrator, tells the story from the adults’ point of view, reminiscing on the innocent years, and innocent time at the old farm.
Both books are filled with little, innocent, albeit naïve stories from the lives of children in a small town in Canada. This seems to be the recurring theme of Montgomery’s books, and maybe that’s why I love them so much. They have this specific sort of magic, available for kids, they make life seem simple and remind the reader to enjoy/appreciate little things. After all, the biggest kind of problems they have is that there’s no cake in the pantry on a Sunday when unexpected guests arrive, or not being able to cook.
The books are also a nice source of knowledge what life there and then looked like. Especially, how the adolescence were brought up. They didn’t talk about sex at all, they were respectful and even fearful towards any “God subject,” they had a lot of house chores, deep belief in everything that was printed, only because it was PRINTED.
Of course, I know this world – though may seem that way sometimes – was not perfect. The work on the farm was really hard, the girls had to marry quite early, and were discouraged from getting higher education. Everybody knew everything about other people, and if you were different, you were the town’s witch or “the awkward man” that everybody laughed at – or feared; this way or another, didn’t want anything to do with them. I know all of that, but purposefully decide to forget it whenever I reach for one of my favorites. I think they were meant to enjoy, to have fun, to make people appreciate nature, to remind them of an idyllic fairytale world most children believe in.
There is one little thing I have issue with. Sara Ray, the shy, sensitive, girl the Kings hang out with, I think was not treated fairly by them. Or by the author, for that matter. It seemed like everybody else had some talent, something to make them stand out, except for Sara. She had a very strict mother, who wouldn’t allow her do a lot of things, and the Kings just sort of allowed her to hang out with them, but I had a feeling they did feel superior. These are not the only books where I felt that, though Montgomery allowed her protagonists to hang out with the less fortunate ones, they still felt better than them only because they were born into the “better” family.
But I guess it’s also part of the culture at the time – and place, so I won’t dwell on it.
I still love these books, and I wish every children’s book was so great as the ones written by Lucy Maud Montgomery.