Thumbs up for Emily Of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. Young adult.
I am a sucker for nature mysticism; also for the slightly over-described, slightly melodramatic, emotional style of the novels of yesteryear. This is out of fashion among modern novels, and I think that’s their loss, frankly; they all seem a bit thin to me (which is why I mostly read sci-fi: it’s just got more ideas in it). The problem with laying it on with a trowel as Montgomery does in her Emily books is while there is lots of great stuff in here, there’s also a (quite literally) unbelievable number of dislikable characters. Except for Aunt Laura, who is sweet but useless, every adult female character we meet is a roaring bitch in one way or another. (Oh how I despised Aunt Elizabeth when I was a kid! Wait – I still do. Montgomery’s efforts to make her sympathetic are pretty limp.) Male characters don’t fare much better, even the ones who aren’t antagonistic: a 36-year-old has no business falling in love with a 14-year-old, even if he does resign himself to waiting until she’s properly old enough to court. Et cetera. But it does make for good drama, and I had fond enough memories of this series to start it again after 15+ years in spite of the fact that I (still) want to crawl into the pages and punch out some of the characters with a roll of quarters in my fist. I do recommend the first one, and maybe the second two, to your taste: I started to read them and then was satisfied with a good skim, because they’re an awful lot of the same.
She loved the spruce barrens, away at the further end of the long, sloping pasture. That was a place where magic was made. She came more fully into her fairy birthright there than in any other place. Nobody who saw Emily skimming over the bare field would have envied her. She was little and pale and poorly clad; sometimes she shivered in her thin jacket; yet a queen might have gladly given a crown for her visions – her dreams of wonder. The brown, frosted grasses under her feet were velvet piles. The old, mossy, gnarled half-dead spruce-tree, under which she paused for a moment to look up into the sky, was a marble column in the palace of the gods; the far dusky hills were the ramparts of a city of wonder. And for companions she had all the fairies of the countryside – for she could believe in them here – the fairies of the white clover and satin catkins, the little green folk of the grass, the elves of the young fir-trees, sprites of wind and wild fern and thistledown. Anything might happen there – everything might come true.
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