Every time I see a moon reference, I think of Twilight. But this book has nothing to do with Twilight. Emily of New Moon was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery who was famous for writing the Anne of Green Gables series. Anne of Green Gables is a loveable red haired orphan who brings joy to whoever she meets. I love Anne of Green Gables. When I was younger, I use to read a passage out of the “Anne” books every day.
Until last year, I thought the Anne of Green Gables series was L.M Montgomery’s masterpiece and that she had not written any more books. So I was surprised when I read her biography that she had published more books. I knew there were little spin off books from the Anne of Green Gables series; I just didn’t know about the other original works of L.M Montgomery.
Emily of New Moon is about a ten year old girl named Emily Byrd Starr who goes to live with her maternal aunts after her father dies. Her mother Juliet Murray died when she was four. Emily was estranged from her mother’s family as they never approved of Emily’s mother running off to marry her father. Nobody is willing to take her and Emily is forced to draw lots. She chooses her spinster aunts Elizabeth and Laura of New Moon Farm to be her guardians. Elizabeth agrees to take Emily out of duty. She is cold and strict towards Emily as that was how she was raised. Aunt Laura is kind and treats Emily like her own daughter but Elizabeth has the final say in all matters. Emily also has a friend in Cousin Jimmy who works on the farm.
Emily adjusts to her new life and going to a new school. She makes friends with Ilse Burnley, Perry Miller and Teddy Kent at school. All of her friends have interesting backgrounds, Ilse’s mother supposedly abandoned her family, Perry is the New Moon’s hired boy and Teddy’s mother is an agoraphobic. When not playing with her friends, Emily spends her time writing poetry and letters to her father. She keeps her written work hidden from Aunt Elizabeth knowing that Aunt Elizabeth does not approve.
Emily is a fanciful child, obsessed with fairies and damsels. Despite her girly nature, she is very forthright and confident when she feels strongly about an issue. A supernatural look appears on her face, known in the family as the “Murray look” which startles whoever receives the expression. What I particularly like is how Emily can stand up to for herself, especially as the story is set in a time when children were seen and not heard. Many times, the adults in the story treat Emily unfairly because they can.
“Well, it is to be hoped you have some brains, because you haven’t much in the way of looks” said Aunt Ruth. “You’ve no complexion to speak of-and that inky hair around your white face is startling. I see you’re going to be a plain girl.”
“You wouldn’t say that to a grown-up person’s face,” said Emily with a deliberate gravity which always exasperated Aunt Ruth because she could not understand it in a child. “I don’t think it would hurt you to be as polite to me as you are to other people.”“I’m telling you your faults so that you may correct them,” said Aunt Ruth frigidly. “It isn’t my fault that my face is pale and my hair is black,” protested Emily. “I can’t correct that.”
Emily of New Moon by L. M Montgomery (1923) p. 267
The novel follows Emily from age ten to thirteen. She grows to love New Moon and the inhabitants of her small community. Emily continues to write poetry and short stories and hopes for someone to tell her whether she has talent. She gets some encouragement from others to continue with her writing and that is followed up in two other novels.
I enjoyed reading Emily of New Moon. I couldn’t help but compare it to Anne of Green Gables. Personally, Anne of Green Gables is my favorite out of the two. However, I’m still going to read the next two books in the Emily of New Moon series as I admire L. M Montgomery’s writing. The Anne and Emily stories are a little similar in that they are both orphans, live on Prince Edward Island on a farm and aspire to be writers. Emily of New Moon is considered a less romanticized novel as Emily is a bit more repressed by the adults in her life. She is not as optimistic and talkative as Anne. Emily is concerned with behaving properly in public due to her family. She only talks about her imaginary fancies with people she trusts whereas Anne has no relatives and talks to everybody about her fantasies and odd thoughts. Anne grows up in a loving environment despite also having a stern spinster caregiver. Her writing is encouraged and celebrated.
I would love to hear your thoughts on Emily of New Moon or any of L.M Montgomery’s works.