With this review, we're revisiting another one of my old favourite, my comfort reads, the books I can still pick up and read with a great deal of pleasure, almost as much as when I was curled up in my bed as a girl, discovering this world for the first time. Which is all to say that this review is naturally heavily coloured by all of who I was and who I am now, and how this book has fit into my personal mythology for many, many years.
I always loved the Emily books far more than the Anne books, and that's saying a lot, because I also have a huge soft spot for Montgomery's best known creation. But Emily gave me more scope for imagination, as Anne herself might say. Her adventures were a little less domestic (although still quite domestic), and the slight touch of the supernatural that insinuates itself at least once in each Emily book is intriguing.
Emily has more ambition than Anne. Reading about Anne as she throws herself entirely into her role of wife and mother is interesting, but Emily's disdain of that path, her ambition to really become a writer, to put her own desires above those of her aunts, they were all very appealing to me when I was young, and even now as I'm in my late 30s.
Emily is, as most Montgomery heroines are, an orphan. But she is not cast to the winds, she is taken in by her mother's family, and although Aunt Elizabeth may be stern, Emily is thoroughly loved by Aunt Laura and Cousin Jimmy. When she moves to New Moon, she finds a home, makes one, populates it with the friends she finds, and thoroughly enjoys life there, while still missing her recently-deceased father.
In the first book, we are mostly covering Emily's adventures as a young girl, which are full of thrills and adventure that may lack in genuine danger (well, most of them), but can spur genuine fear. Emily is a sensitive little creature, and her voyages through her own world are delightful. Montgomery had a knack for making everyday life sparkle, of capturing small details and investing them with significance and beauty.
The social historian in me loves how she pays such attention to everyday life, to the small victories and defeats that nonetheless loom large in the eyes of those who participate in them. There is such richness here, and it is rarely equalled by other authors. And Emily herself is one of my favourite literary friends.