I grew up with Anne of Green Gables, which I reread frequently. For some reason, I don’t recall branching out and reading the other Lucy Maud Montgomery novels. As I was reading some longer, denser books recently, I felt the need for a reading break and took the chance to read two stand-alone novels by the writer from Prince Edward Island.
The Blue Castle (published 1926) is one of Montgomery’s novels written for adults. Valancy is a 29-year-old old maid who is constantly criticized, berated, and teased by her extended family, finding her only relief from reality in nature writing and daydreams about her dream home, an exotic Blue Castle. I must admit that when I began the novel, I really did not like the set up. I didn’t know anything about the plot, and I worried that I’d be able to read a novel with a weak woman. Never fear, L.M. Montgomery was able to quickly bring me around. When Valancy receives some surprising news, she comes to a decision that shocks her family: she speaks her mind. I loved Valancy’s transformation, I loved the twists in her life, and the ways in which she struck out on her own. I loved the romance in the story and all the coincidences of the plot. The Blue Castle is a novel I will enjoy rereading, and I suspect each time I finish it, I’ll be able to say with a sigh, “Ah, that was nice.”
Jane of Lantern Hill (published 1936) focuses on a young child (11 years old) but she faces similar frustrations in her life. Her grandmother nags and criticizes her, her loving mother is a weak-willed woman who still succumbs to the grandmother, and Jane longs for something to make her life complete. Like Valancy, Jane retreats from reality in to a daydream, in her case a trip to the magical moon. When she finds out that her long-absent father is alive and wants to spend the summer with her on Prince Edward Island, Jane is delighted by her new freedom. Although Jane transforms in ways similar to Valancy and even Anne Shirley herself, Jane didn’t feel as alive to me as these other favorite characters. Maybe because the romantic notions of a preteen no longer echo my own notions as preteen reading Anne of Green Gables, or maybe the plot simply wasn’t as satisfying. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed reading about Jane’s self-discovery. It was a hopeful and peaceful book.
I now look forward to finding the other L.M. Montgomery novels I have not yet read!
(Can I just add that I greatly dislike these awful 1980s covers?)
“The Horla” is the term for the invisible ghost-like creature that haunts the unnamed narrator in Guy de Maupassant’s short story of the same name (written 1887). Maupassant’s story is a journal of this man’s decent into madness. Maupassant captures panic in a real way, and the ending is simply wonderful. When I first read it, I called it “wonderfully weird” and it’s held up to that description. (more…)
The title of Lorraine Hansberry’s debut play about 1950s Southside Chicago comes from a classic poem by Langston Hughes, and Hansberry includes it as an epigram to the play.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Hughes’ poem captures the essence of Hansberry’s play: dreams deferred. The Younger family’s dream as a whole centers on the American dream, but for each person, it differs a little. Although Hansberry’s play is about an African American family in the 1950s, the dreams each person harbors remain universal. The Younger’s story is one that I think most people, especially those that work hard, can relate to in some degree. (more…)
There is no doubt about it: Barack Obama is an incredibly likeable man. His down-to-earth attitude, his (apparent) honesty, and his hope for the potential in all of us make me proud that he’s the face of America today. I loved to listen to The Audacity of Hope, which he wrote five years ago as junior Illinois Senator. I was delighted every time I remembered that he’s now the President, and able to see some of his hopes come to light.
I only wished, as I listened, that there was more of it. Only when I was nearly finished listening did I realize it was an abridgement of a longer book. (I hate it when that happens.) Still, there was something doubly wonderful about listening to President Obama narrating himself his hopes for the future of America. I’m not sure I would have loved it as much if I’d read it. (more…)
To my relief, I was not the only one at the book club meeting that didn’t love this month’s choice!
I don’t usually read modern fiction; it’s just not my thing, and I can’t really say way. Maybe I’m just always reading the “wrong” modern fiction and so it has a bad rap in my mind. I did try to have an open mind when I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I think discussing it with others did help me to give it more of a chance. I probably wouldn’t have finished it, despite its brevity, if I didn’t know the book club meeting was coming up.
In the end, I thought the writing trite and the underlying message saccharine. The author was aiming for a specific religious agenda, and it seemed forced and inappropriate to me. Besides, the back cover of The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo claims, “Every few decades a book comes along that changes the lives of its readers forever.” I guess that just meant that I expected more from it. (more…)