Author: L.M. Montgomery
Length: 217 pages
Synopsis: This is the story of Jane Victoria Stuart who lives with her mother, her grandmother, her aunt, and a few servants at 60 Gay Street in Toronto. However, if ever a street was badly named, Gay Street is it. Jane’s grandmother makes life unpleasant for virtually everyone there, Jane especially. Jane learns that her father is alive after having believed him dead for the first ten years of her life, and even more surprising, he wants her to come for a visit. Jane goes to visit him on Prince Edward Island against her will, but once there, she finds a new life that she could never have even dreamt of back on Gay Street. The problem, of course, is how to get her mother and father to reconcile so that they can begin a new, happy life together. Because of her new-found courage birthed in her on PEI, Jane is up to the challenge, even if the challenge is personified in her grandmother.
My Thoughts: I concur with Jane when she thinks upon returning to Prince Edward Island for the second summer, it is “wonderful to be among happy people again” (171). Like all of L. M. Montgomery’s other works, this one does not disappoint. In some ways, because Jane herself is at first unfamiliar with PEI, I saw it through new eyes. Her homegoing to Lantern Hill after her first surprising summer there is reminiscent of Anne’s buggy ride to Green Gables. Really, Jane of Lantern Hill is a love song for PEI if it is nothing else. There are only two things about this book that sort of bug me, but by now I appreciate L.M. Montgomery for taking me out of the problems and stresses of modern life, so I do not expect her works to be realistic. However, for the sake of discussion, I will note these problematic areas here (warning: spoilers ahead). First is Jane’s remarkable ability to possess and care for Lantern Hill as only a seasoned homemaker could, even though she has been forbidden from cooking or doing any housekeeping chores throughout her childhood. Of course, that Jane is a born homemaker is established early on; later in the story, once she and her father have taken up residence at Lantern Hill and she begins to make it a home, her dad inquires how she knows how to do all the things she does. Her answer? ” ‘I think I’ve always known them’ ” (90). Truly, Jane’s domestic abilities would rival the most seasoned of housewives. Second is Jane’s choice of a home for her reunited family. I was disappointed by the fact that Jane chooses a new home in “the new Lakeside development on the banks of the Humber” (163). This just smacks of suburbia to me, and I can’t reconcile this with my visions of idyllic PEI and its inhabitants. Of course, this home is in Toronto, not PEI, so that is probably the difference. But still.
I’ve come to realize that one of the main reasons I always liked L.M. Montgomery’s fiction is her ability to incorporate so many little stories into the big story. I love the sense of community that is always a part of the larger story, and Jane of Lantern Hill is no different. Jane becomes a part of something when she moves to PEI that she had never experienced in Toronto, as evidenced by this exchange:
“You’re so nice you ought to have been born on P.E. Island, ” Ding Dong told [Jane].
“I was,” said Jane triumphantly. (92)
It had been about five years or so since I last read a L.M. Montgomery book, and that is too long. How I have gone so long without a refreshing breeze from PEI, I don’t know. This has been rectified now, and I think that it won’t be another five years before I make this journey again. Carrie at Reading to Know is hosting this L.M. Montgomery Challenge. Won’t you consider joining?