Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery (thoughts)
Although I might not have been blogging, I have been reading! And since my trip is quickly coming up, I thought I’d dedicate this week to some of the wonderful Canadian books I’ve been exploring.
I know Montgomery is an obvious choice, but I’ve adored her since childhood, so when several bloggers mentioned that Jane of Lantern Hill is set partly in Toronto, I knew I’d be picking it up. And I found all of the usual Montgomery magic inside! I find it fascinating when authors explore certain themes/types of characters/settings over and over again in different books but still manage to keep it feeling fresh. In this one, Jane is a young girl who’s a bit of a misfit, kept off kilter by an emotionally cruel grandmother who daily reminds her that she’s of no real use or value. Poor girl. Fortunately, she’s in a Montgomery novel, and so when she’s twelve, her father (who she’s never known) sends for her to spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island. He puts her in charge of keeping the house, and the combination of practical tasks that she has a natural gift for and his unconditional love allows her to really blossom, and the novel can take off.
While I loved all sorts of things in the book, what most caught my attention was the loving depiction of domesticity. Now, I know that many, many women in history have felt oppressed by the daily drudgery of keeping house (either their own or someone else’s) and longed to work outside of it. And I am dearly grateful for the strong women who have fought to change our society, so that Western women have more opportunities in the workforce than ever before. I’m well aware that Montgomery’s plotlines, and her heroines, tend to be fall into patriarchy-approved patterns. That being said, as someone who loves to cook, and whose health currently confines her to home much of the time, it was lovely to see Jane blossoming in such a context. It made me smile and feel a bit more blessed about my own life, as well as making me wonder where I could put in a garden. ;)
Oh dear; I’m afraid I’m terribly out of the habit of writing about books in a semicoherent manner. Let’s just say that every page of Jane of Lantern Hill was pure comfort reading delight, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone in need of a gentle book, old-fashioned without being preachy, and with the most wonderfully evocative descriptions of place. Both Toronto and P.E.I. come to life through Montgomery’s pen.