here and here) then with great self control managed to hold back on the last one until now. I really enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables series as a child and it's been a pleasure reacquainting myself with Montgomery again as an adult. I assume this series is meant for younger readers though my local waterstones and I are a little unsure, they have the books in both adult and children's sections - not that it matters, good books are universal.
On the down side, and probably something that wouldn't have bothered me in the least when I was 12, Montgomery is a little bit to ecstatic about nature - there are far to many references to sparkling fairy brews and enchanted anything's for my current taste so a little bit of effort was required to accommodate that. The effort is more than rewarded by the pleasure I got from the lush descriptions of Prince Edward Island, she makes me want to be there, and also feel like I am there. Montgomery has her characters discuss the idea of a specifically Canadian literature in both 'Emily Climbs' and a little bit here as well, she sees it through by keeping Emily at new Moon farm and on her island. I am a sucker for an island location, and all the things that people care about in life happen in small places as well as large.
'Emily Climbs' finished with Emily, Teddy, Ilse, and Perry finishing high school and setting off in different directions, Teddy and Ilse are headed for Montreal to carry on their studies, Perry is a clerk in a solicitors office and well on his way to a dazzling career. It's only Emily who has chosen to stay at home where she intends to pursue her dreams to be a writer. At first all goes well for her, she misses her friends but her stories are being accepted and she's beginning to make a reasonable living for herself. What remains unresolved are her feelings for Teddy Kent whose letters are becoming colder and more remote, still they are young, there are other distractions for Emily, and surely all the time in the world, meanwhile there are novels to be written.
Emily's first novel is the child of her heart and soul, but it's rejected by the first three publishers she sends it to, finally she hands it to her old friend Dean Priest who tells her it's no good, it's a turning point for Emily who burns her manuscript, suffers a horrible accident, and gives up on her dream. After her recuperation, cut off from her friends and her muse she finally agrees to marry Dean.
The relationship between Dean and Emily has been troubling me from the first book, Dean decided Emily was the girl for him when she was 12, 7 years later his patience pays off - his single-mindedness on the subject was hard to stomach whilst Emily was so young (though there's no hint of impropriety) but what's worrying now is his jealous nature. He has developed a habit of belittling Emily's writing because he resents the time and attention it takes from him. He lies when he tells her the book is no good, it's controlling behaviour that hints at the possibility of something more abusive in a time when marriage would be utterly binding.
In the end the marriage doesn't take place (forgive the spoiler) and we can hope again that Emily and Teddy sort out their differences because they're clearly meant to be together. I hope it's not to much of a spoiler to say that the book will end happily, because before that happens Montgomery throws in all sorts of obstacles, the path of true love won't run smoothly. For the adult reader this is a light and enjoyable book with something to say about the choices women have to make regarding career, love, and family life. Montgomery doesn't say you can't have it all but I think she's clear that compromises have to be made for relationships to work and that sometimes ambition isn't compatible with domestic bliss. For younger readers it's basically the same and that's the beauty of a really good book. I think this is a great series, in its way it's quietly subversive - really how often are girls told in fiction that a career might actually be enough by itself? Love is desirable but it's not the only thing.