Children's Literature · Classics · Review

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

"Emily of New Moon" by L.M. Montgomery
“Emily of New Moon” by L.M. Montgomery

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery is the first novel in the Emily trilogy. It depicts life through the eyes of Emily Byrd Starr. In the beginning of the novel, Emily becomes an orphan after her father dies of consumption. She is then taken in by her Murray family. It is decided that she is to go live with her Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Laura, and Cousin Jimmy on New Moon farm–the home of the Murray family for generations. Emily has black hair; violet eyes; pale skin; ever-so-slightly, pointed ears; and a unique, enchanting “slow” smile.

She attends school for the first time in her life. Emily learns how to make friends and how to keep them. Along her journey, she makes friends with Ilse Burnley, Teddy Kent, and Perry Miller. Each one has a special talent: Emily is a born writer, Ilse is a talented elocutionist, Teddy is a gifted artist, and Perry has the potential to be a great politician. They have problems with their families, too. Aunt Elizabeth doesn’t understand Emily’s drive to write, which contributes to their difficulty in getting along. Ilse’s father, Dr. Burnley, ignores her most of the time because of a dreadful secret concerning Ilse’s mother. Teddy’s mother is extremely jealous of everything and everyone (Emily, his drawings, his pets, etc.) Teddy has any affection for, fearing he will love those things or people more than her–a very good example of the Oedipus Complex. Perry, coming from “Stovepipe Town,” isn’t as well off as the other three. One time, his Aunt Tom tries to get Emily to promise to marry Perry. Aunt Tom threatens her that if she doesn’t marry Perry, Aunt Tom won’t pay for Perry’s education. Emily refuses to marry him.

Other characters add to the fun of the novel. Dean “Jarback” Priest, a quiet, mysterious cynic, wants something he fears is unattainable. Miss Brownell torments Emily in the first few years of Emily’s schooling. Fiery Mr. Carpenter honestly critiques Emily’s writings and mentors her. “Simple” Cousin Jimmy recites poetry when he feels moved by the spirit.

Emily falls ill. While she’s ill, she unconsciously solves the mystery of what happened to Ilse’s mother. She had been obsessing over the mystery for a while by then.

When we meet Emily, at the beginning of the book, L.M. Montgomery illustrates how Emily’s mind works when she’s writing. She included several words that showed how poor Emily’s spelling was. For example, Emily spelled “cookie” as “cooky.”

Being a cat person myself, I love that Emily loves her cats. Before going to New Moon, she begs Aunt Elizabeth to let her take one of her cats with her. After a lot of pleading, Aunt Elizabeth said that Emily could choose only one. Breaking Emily’s heart, Emily chooses Saucy Sal and leaves Michael behind. Unsurprisingly, Saucy Sal increases the feline population on New Moon farm.

Emily’s imagination can really capture the reader as she pulls you into her world, showing you its beauty. Some of the things she sees beauty in are things that the average person wouldn’t immediately think about. She even personifies the wind, known as Wind Woman.

All in all, this is a great book. I couldn’t put it down! If you enjoyed Anne of Green Gables you will enjoy Emily of New Moon.

Genre: Fiction

Stars (out of 5): *****

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