Emily Climbs: Emily Byrd Starr, #2 -- L. M. Montgomery
It was not, of course, a proper thing to do. But then I have never pretended, nor ever will pretend, that Emily was a proper child. Books are not written about proper children. They would be so dull nobody would read them.
All of her friends are going away to Shrewsbury High School, and it looks like she's going to be left behind at New Moon. But then she makes a difficult and heart-breaking deal with Aunt Elizabeth -- Emily will be allowed to go to school for three years if she vows to write no fiction at all during that time.
Emily Climbs follows our Miss Starr as she grows up (from almost-fourteen to seventeen) and begins to find her place in the world. As you'd expect from a Montgomery heroine, she gets into scrape after scrape; despairs on occasion but always eventually throws her shoulders back, dusts herself off and tries again; is hounded by unfair gossip; discovers romance; saves at least one small child; and is occasionally is aided by the most unlikely people. And as you'd expect from a Montgomery heroine, ultimately, she triumphs over all adversity.
Just like last time, I dog-eared practically the whole book. Which of course, ended up being less-than-helpful. But, for me, some of the highlights:
- Emily's musings on words and writing: "Big words are never beautiful--'incriminating'--'obstreperous'--'international'--'unconstitutional'. They make me think of those horrible big dahlias and chrysanthemums Cousin Jimmy took me to see at the exhibition in Charlottetown last fall."
- Her three-page diary entry refuting a city slicker's claim that nothing ever happens in Blair Water: "...Elder McCloskey, who thought it wouldn't do to say 'pants' in a story he was telling about a missionary, at prayer-meeting, so always said politely 'the clothes of his lower parts'..."
- The narrator's voice -- I quoted a bit earlier, but there are many other asides to the reader ("Remember that I am only Emily's biographer, not her apologist."), and I loved them all.
- Emily's adventures (of course), which I will not list because if you've read it, you'll remember and if you haven't, you should.
- The fact that I came around about Teddy very early on. I was so surprised by my abrupt emotional about-face, but there it is. I rather love him now. He and Emily totally belong together. As do Ilse and Perry. And I will be Very Put Out if it doesn't All Work Out. I continue to be completely skeeved out by Dean. AND HE'S A JERK ABOUT EMILY'S WRITING, ALL CONDESCENDING AND NOT WANTING HER TO SUCCEED. I hadn't thought about it much until now, but I rather hate him. Hence my use of the Caps Lock key. Sorry about that.
- The Cousin Andrew plotline.
- OH MY GOD EMILY'S INADVERTENT EAVESDROPPING ON MRS. ANN CYRILLA AND MISS BEULAH POTTER!!! I ALMOST DIED LAUGHING. (Do you think LMM left the 'e' off of Mrs. Cyrilla's name because she's so horrible?)
- Emily and Aunt Ruth's relationship.
- Everything about the Perry and Emily alone at night misunderstanding, the Emily kissing a man on the street misunderstanding, and every other misunderstanding (and there are many) and embarrassment she endures. Poor girl. I certainly cringed with her, but never so much that I stopped enjoying myself. I guess that this all falls under "Emily's adventures", but there are so many that it's worth mentioning twice.
- Horrible Evelyn Blake and the fact that Emily can be very catty. "Evelyn is wearing her hair in the new pompadour style this year and I think it is very unbecoming to her. But then, of course, the only part of Evelyn's anatomy I like is her back."
- The fact that Emily is a snob. And that Ilse calls Emily on it.
- Emily's reason for feeling sorry for Evelyn Blake's failed exams.
- Miss Royal's interview. I died. Many times over. Seriously.
- The beautiful parallel bits at the beginning and end: Emily's first inkling of her feelings for Teddy early on in the graveyard, and her more breathtaking and so-gorgeous-it-hurts realization during the blizzard of just how much her feelings for him have deepened. I love Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, but nothing in their courtship -- not even the night that Anne thinks Gil is going to die -- touches this.
I just requested a copy of Book #3 via BookMooch, but it'll be a while before it gets here. Sad.