Homesick for Lantern Hill

“Let’s sum up… a little house, white and green or to be made so… with trees, preferably birch and spruce… a window looking seaward… on a hill. That sounds very possible… but there is one other requirement. There must be magic about it, Jane… lashings of magic… and magic houses are scarce, even on the Island. Have you any idea at all what I mean, Jane?”

                  ~Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

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During a visit to my favorite book shop (Changing Hands), I met a kindred spirit who, like me, has an obsession with the adorable works of Miss Lucy Maude Montgomery. She introduced me to Jane, a literary sister of my beloved Anne and Emily. Needless to say, her namesake book, Jane of Lantern Hill, served to deepen my yearning for Prince Edward Island. (I would venture to call this yearning “homesickness,” but I unfortunately was born in plain, unromantic Phoenix, Arizona.)

This sweet book, simpler in style than some of Montgomery’s other works, renewed my longing to plant a garden, swim in the chilly sea, pick wildflowers along the coast, climb barn roofs, bake pies, run barefoot through green pastures, wake up to a blossoming tree outside my window, and watch the elfin flames of a driftwood fire on a starlit night. Somehow, I fear, the scorching 110 degree heat of my hometown just does not compare to these charming P.E.I. summers described in Jane of Lantern Hill. If only I could sail to the Island in body as well as imagination…but in this instance, reading can only take me so far…

Longing for Avonlea

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.”

― L.M. Montgomery

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Overcome with this “irresistible temptation”, I visited the shrine… er…shelf… that I have devoted to L.M. Montgomery’s novels and discovered two thoughts which, like Anne in chapter fourteen of her story, “I am ready to confess.”

Confession #1: My copy of Anne of Green Gables looks like I ran over it in Matthew Cuthbert’s buggy, but really all I am guilty of is loving it to pieces.  I don’t even know how many times I have read it and often turn to it for comfort. It’s characters are among my dearest friends (and in Gilbert Blythe’s case, my dearest literary crush…) and although I’ve never really been there, its Prince Edward Island setting feels like home.

Confession #2: I have a more durable copy of this book, as well as a digital copy.  However, no matter how hard I try to read the other copies, they just do not feel right. They have the same words (although the digital copy mistakenly insists on changing Marilla’s name to “Manila”) but they lack the smell and texture particular to my old and worn copy. Even with the cover half-missing and the spine threatening to crumble at the next page turn, I cannot seem to retire this book and so am forced to sentence the hardback a lifetime on the shelf and the digital to electronic isolation.

There, now I’ve confessed and now may continue singing my love of L.M. Montgomery’s works.  I have read at least thirteen of her novels and was delighted with each one! Anne and Emily will always be my favorites, though the others are wonderful too.  But why do I love these books so much? Is it because they feature the usual literary elements praised by English teachers everywhere? No. While I do enjoy allusions and metaphors, I believe the real charm of Montgomery’s writing is in its simple elegance and wisdom; turn to any page you wish and there is certain to be some quotable line that, although prose, flows like poetry and refreshes the reader’s soul!