L. M. Montgomery
Seal, 1988 (first published 1933)
CHALLENGE(S): L. M. Montgomery Challenge
Finished 30 Jan 2010
I have to admit, I was both excited and apprehensive to begin reading Montgomery again, which is why it took me so long to get around to reading this. I used to love her books as a child – I’ve read a number of the Anne series, wept over the movies, and the Emily series was my absolute favourite for quite a long period of my youth. I also seem to vaguely recall my mother, in an attempt to make me read more “classical” literature, bribing me with money to read the Road to Avonlea series which, for some reason, I always despised. Hm. My childhood rebellions notwithstanding, I have in the past enjoyed Montgomery as an author (Kilmeny of the Orchard still makes me smile), but I was rather hesitant to retrace old paths for fear of disillusionment.
I need not have worried. Pat, like Anne and Emily, is a story about the exploits of a little girl, in this case Patricia Gardiner of Silver Bush, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Beginning when Pat is “almost seven” it chronicles her loves and losses, along with those of the wonderful supporting cast, until she reaches the age of eighteen and goes away to Queens College, where she is to study to be a teacher.
I have to admit, there are things about Pat’s story which could have been lifted directly from any of Montgomery’s other novels (that I have read) – her “queerness”, her love of nature, the passions she throws herself into, and so on. It also took me a while to sink into the flowery prose sufficiently to begin to connect with Pat and her fellows (I was particularly thrown off by Judy’s dialect – it was rather difficult to make sense of at times). However, once I’d gotten used to it, it was like coming home. I read most of the book on a sunny afternoon and it was a rather nostalgic experience, as I have posted elsewhere. Quite apart from the atmosphere, the prose quickly came alive for me and I came to sympathise greatly with Patricia and her friends. I am quite looking forward to tracking down the rest of the Pat saga and finding out what happens to her and Silver Bush!
Somehow, I get the feeling that Montgomery and I would have gotten along well; her characters seem to see the world the same way I do. Perhaps its a result of reading so many of her novels while I was growing up. I particularly empathized with Pat’s dislike of change, and her obvious love for her home which made this book a real pleasure to read. I’ll always have a soft spot for Montgomery’s novels, if only for the beauty she so rapturously describes.