January 24, 2011

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

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Jane Stuart, or Victoria as she is called, lives with her mother and grandmother in an old mansion in an old part of Toronto. Though her mother loves her the same can't be said for Grandmother who has a hate-on for Jane. Grandmother has no room in her heart for anyone other than her daughter; she keeps tight rein on her. Jane and her mother walk on eggshells in fear of Grandmother's wrath.

Quite by accident, Jane learns that her father is alive and living on Prince Edward Island. When he sends for her, Jane is devastated. She can't imagine being away from her mother and living with a stranger for a whole summer, even though she'll be away from Grandmother. Jane is surprised to find that her father is a warmhearted man with a big imagination. They buy a house in Lantern Hill and Jane set about making their house a home, the home she always imagined she would have. Jane makes friends with the neighbours and gains a reputation for being able to do anything. When she returns to Toronto, Grandmother learns that Jane is a force to be reckoned with and things will never be the same again.

What an excellent little book Jane of Lantern Hill is! In a way, it reminded me of The Secret Garden. A precocious little girl moves away from the place she has always lived, meets new people and tries new things becoming a better person by the end of the book. The difference is Jane is lovable right from the beginning. She has loyalty to her mother even though the woman is completely spineless. Jane becomes so wise and strong, much wiser than the adults. And that Grandmother...yikes! Icy cold nasty lady. I kept imagining the step-mother in Cinderella.


The differences between her life in Toronto and Prince Edward Island are so completely opposed that I wondered if this was a comment on Montgomery's own life. At the time this was written, Lucy Maude was near the end of her life. She had been married to a minister with mental problems not to mention her own depression. The weight of keeping up appearances must have been smothering, much like Jane's life with Grandmother. She must have had fond memories of herself as a young woman in PEI. Jane is set free to be herself on the island. The island is as much a character as Jane is.

Although Montgomery's writing is prone to unbelievable coincidences and unlikely situations, it's full of quirky characters and sparks of insight that even adults can appreciate like the following:
Jane, the most awful as well as the most beautiful things in the world can be said in three words or less… I love you…he is gone…he is come…she is dead…too late…and life is illumined or ruined.
Though  Montgomery is known for Anne Shirley and her adventures, I hope readers will give Jane Stuart a chance.

Highly recommended though difficult to get if you don't live in Canada.

10 comments :

  1. I loved the Anne of Green Gables books when I was growing up, but I've never read any of her other books, or even finished that series. Thanks for the review.

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  2. i was so caught up in Anne that I never got into reading any of her other books. But was Victoria a middle name? Curious as to why they called her that.

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  3. Nicole- Yes, Jane Victoria but she liked Jane.

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  4. Hi-- So pleased to have discovered your blog!

    I've never heard of Jane but certainly plan to read it! there was another new to me Montgomery book I learned about from another blogger last year too-- Where have I been? Guess I just had Anne-brain as a kid!

    I thought I had read the whole Anne series but just bought a thrift store book 'Rilla of Ingleside'-- Apparently the Anne series continued with her children.

    I've got lots of books to catch up on but I bet it will be delightful!!

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  5. Jane has always been my least fave of Montgomery's many heroines (except maybe Marigold?), but I do like how the story shows so much of what LMM must have been feeling at the time she wrote it. Great review!

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  6. I've still only read the first of the Anne of Green Gables books, but someday I'm sure I'll experience more of Montgomery. LIt's nice to know there's more to her writing than just Anne.

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  7. Ah yes: Disney is fairly awful in his propensity to show older women who want power for themselves as evil, and only older women who are selfless as good.

    But then they are cartoons, I guess!

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  8. I never get tired of reading about LMM stories. This was one of my favourites as a girl: I re-read it countless times. When they made it into a film, I thought it was okay, but I didn't love it the way that I loved the early Anne films. So I just kept re-reading!

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  9. I really need to read this! I was considering rereading some of her books this year, but what I should do is read the ones that I haven't and then maybe reread next year... Thanks for the reminder!

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  10. I will be rereading this one fairly soon... I've just finished the Anne series (and bawled over Rilla once more) Jane was never one of my most favourite heroines so I have to give her another go!

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