|The Story Girl / L.M. Montgomery|
NY: Bantam, 1988, c1911.
I seem to be ranging all across women's lives this week - from end of life to young marrieds to adolescents, in this book. The Story Girl is an episodic tale of the King family in Prince Edward Island, taking place while their cousin Sara Stanley (the Story Girl of the title) is visiting.
Like many of L.M. Montgomery's stories, it covers a range of themes; nature, family ties, community stories, religious elements, lots of school and friendship in there too. This one is a little unusual in her oeuvre, though, as it's being told by one of the boys involved, as a memoir of sorts. This means we have an adult perspective on the events, which is sometimes more pronounced than at other times. It gives a sense of nostalgia for a "simpler time" as well, but I'm not sure it was a fully successful approach.
I enjoyed the stories of the children and the scrapes they get themselves into -- some were quite amusing, some probably had more impact in 1911 when this was first published, for example, in one chapter they all freak out thinking the world is going to end the next day because they've seen it in the papers. The adults don't take their fear seriously at all, and it feels like they are even slightly mocking the group of children. It's a bit odd.
Sara Stanley herself is a typical Montgomery heroine -- a bit set apart from everyone else because of her abilities to make up stories and/or tell old family stories in an impressive way. She's a bit dreamy, and she doesn't live with the others, she's staying with another aunt & uncle nearby, which also sets her apart a bit. This book and the characters were the inspiration for the tv series Road to Avonlea which was huge in the 90s, although it was changed up quite a lot for tv.
I love Montgomery, but can't recall reading this one before. I've owned it for years, so I must have at some time, but nothing in it seemed familiar to me. I can't say it's my favourite of her work. It was quite episodic so there was no dramatic storyline to follow, and the inclusion of random stories thanks to Sara was a bit choppy for me. The structure of a character telling us about his childhood memories also didn't really engage me as much as some of her other books have. But, if you're a Montgomery fan, or just want a book about bygone days that works when you want to read a chapter at a time, with nothing dark or bleak about it, this is the one for you.