Friday, June 22, 2012

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery is one of my childhood favorites. I hadn't revisited it in a while, so I decided it was time for a reread.

For most of her childhood, Jane Victoria Stuart believed that her father was dead. When she was eleven years old, she learned otherwise. For as long as she could remember, Jane had lived in Toronto with her lovely socialite mother and cold, repressive grandmother. Jane knows that her grandmother dislikes her, particularly the parts of her that seemed inherited from her father's side of the family. Jane, who has no memory of her father, hates him, too, because the memory of him seems to cause her beloved mother so much pain. Then, out of the blue, a letter arrives, demanding that Jane spend the summer with her father in Prince Edward Island. That summer is to change Jane's life forever.

On Prince Edward Island, Jane learns what it is to have friends, to be competent at something, and to be loved without the fear and restrictions that characterize her life in Toronto. Jane's dad welcomes her with open arms and an open heart. Together, they choose a little cottage on Lantern Hill to be their summer abode, and Jane delights in every aspect of housekeeping. She befriends all of the neighborhood children and learns new skills every delightful day, from cooking to gardening to swimming in the Gulf. She goes home a confident, independent young woman instead of the cowed child she has always been . . . and she can't help but wonder: what did go wrong with her parents' marriage all those years ago?

This is one of Montgomery's lesser-known works, but it remains one of my favorites. I love Jane's capable, down-to-earth nature, and I remember relishing her domestic conquests back when I first read the book at the age of nine or ten. And, though Jane is a child throughout the book (unlike many Montgomery titles, this spans only a couple of years, rather than the protagonist's entire girlhood), there are a lot of adult issues and concerns, not all of which are pleasantly resolved by the end of the book. It's a wonderfully complex story, and fans of Montgomery's other works should definitely seek it out.

(Reviewed from my personally purchased copy.)

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