Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kilmeny of the Orchard by Lucy Maud Montgomery

After reading Waverly last (subtext: heavy, long, full of an author who obviously thinks a good deal of himself), it is nice to read a nice, old-fashioned love story. Given, slight emphasis on the old-fashioned at times - Ms Montgomery apparently held little esteem for Italians, for example, and bore no scruples about having an adopted boy showing his 'natural Italian blood' at one point by being criminally, violently insane - but I'm sure in 50 years we'll look just as ridiculous in current lit, so, I'm liable to give the poor lady a bit of slack on the subject.

Being a general fan of good old-fashioned love stories, I will endeavour not to belabor the review too much with moony-eyed sighs or teary-eyed comments on the fate of the main characters. It was not a perfect book, but it was lovely, that's just the word, more than pretty, and of a different cast than a quote-unquote 'beautiful' book. Perhaps it could have been 'beautiful', but it would have lost it's dear charm if it had been, so I don't regret it's imperfections.

Having been a tremendous fan of some of Madame Montgomery's other works (yeah, yeah, yeah, yet another Anne of Green Gables fan), it was a strange plot to read, altogether, sort of the comfortable small-town flavor of Anne of Green Gables meets the highly charged, gothic intensity of Wuthering Heights. Only Heathcliff ends up running away to sea. Kilmeny, though, is a beautiful, if impossible, soul, pure and kind and so terribly lonely, by the circumstance of her family, and by the fact that she is mute, that I could not help but love her. There was no challenge of love, none of the defiant impetuous beauty of Wuthering Heights, just a quiet remindrance of beauty and sorrow, and how they sometimes quietly meet in dark and silent spots, and how really, we wish the sorrow could be healed without hindering the beauty. I don't know if it's true, but if it isn't, I'm glad to be told it anyway. The auxilliary characters are charmingly eccentric and warm, in true Gables style. The love story is genuinely beautiful, and everything works out without it feeling glib or insulting. It was, definitely, a lovely book, and it was nice to read somethign that just plain made me feel all warm and happy and childlike for a change.

4 comments:

Amanda said...

Oh man, I just went back and read through this, and in my first reading I thought you said she had little esteem for Indians, not Italians. Very different there...

Jen said...

I read Kilmeny of the Orchard after the Green Gables series, back in high school, and i loved it. It is a really "beautiful", unusual, ethereal sort of romance and I just loved it.

Jason Gignac said...

I know! Completely romantic. Noone writes that anymore, not without some hot-hot-sex thrown in, anyway...

Jason Gignac said...

Yes, Indians and Italians are certainly different. By the beginning of the 20th century there were very few of the former on PEI...