Monday, August 13, 2012

Kilmeny of the Orchard by Lucy Maud Montgomery


42. Kilmeny of the Orchard
by Lucy Maud Montgomery
fiction, 1910
first book for the Canadian Book Challenge 6 - Prince Edward Island
Nook book 15
finished 8/5/12


After reading almost half of a novel, and the first page of another before quitting them both, it was such a relief to fall into the words of Lucy Maud Montgomery - the peace, the slowness, the quiet of an earlier time in a beautiful rural locale.

The story begins with a college graduation ceremony (in April) in Nova Scotia. Eric Marshall has always done exactly as he should growing up, and is now perfectly groomed to go into the family business. This is not a duty for him but a pleasure. He tells his doctor friend, David
But ambition, man! Why, I'm full of it - it's bubbling in every pore of me. I mean to make the department store of Marshall & Company famous from ocean to ocean. Father started in life as a poor boy from a Nova Scotia farm. He has built up a business that has a provincial reputation. I mean to carry it on. In five years it shall have a maritime reputation, in ten, a Canadian. I want to make the firm of Marshall & Company stand for something big in the commercial interests of Canada.
Though Eric seems the ideal young man for any woman, he has shown little interest in anyone.
"… if the future Mrs. Eric Marshall exists in the flesh I haven't met her yet. I haven't even started to look for her - and don't intend to for some years to come."
Eric's mother died when he was ten. She was much beloved by both father and son, and is the model for all women for the son.
"When a man has had a mother like mine his standard of womanly sweetness is apt to be pitched pretty high…."
A professor says of him,
I am afraid Eric Marshall will never do one quixotic thing, but if he ever does it will supply the one thing lacking in him.
Eric receives a letter from a friend who has become ill. Larry is a teacher at a country school on Prince Edward Island, and needs someone to step in for him while he takes time off to recuperate. It will be for only a week in May and the month of June. To lure Eric, he writes
Of course, this little north-shore farming settlement isn't a very lively place. The rising and setting of the sun are the most exciting events of the average day. But the people are very kind and hospitable, and Prince Edward Island in the month of June is such a thing as you don't often see except in happy dreams.
I'd be sold, wouldn't you? And Eric agrees to oblige.

There is a foreshadowing remark made by his father before he goes. As parents always do, the older man warns his son not to get into any 'mischief.' When Eric says there isn't much likelihood in the little place where he's going, his father says,
"Probably the devil finds as much mischief for idle hands in Lindsay as anywhere else. The worst tragedy I ever heard of happened on a backwoods farm, fifteen miles from a railroad and five from a store."
And so the stage is set. The reader wonders whether romance or dark adventures will happen to this young, kindly, impressionable yet practical young man.

Although the scenery is achingly beautiful, Eric is indeed bored … until he visits an orchard one lovely evening.
… three long rows of trees with green avenues between, each tree standing in a wonderful blow [literary meaning - state or period of flowering] of pink and white.
The charm of the place took sudden possession of Eric as nothing had ever done before. He was not given to romantic fancies, but the orchard laid hold of him subtly and drew him to itself, and he was never to be quite his own man again. He went into it over one of the broken panels of fence, and so, unknowing, went forward to meet all that life held for him.
And then there came
a strain of delicious music, so beautiful and fantastic that Eric held his breath in astonishment and delight. Was he dreaming?
A young woman appears and then runs off in fear. She is the loveliest woman he has ever seen.

Shall I say more? If I do, I fear it will tell too much of this beautiful story. It has the feeling of a fairy tale; a reminder of a sleeping beauty in the woods, a woman, while childlike and innocent, has secrets that even she doesn't know.

I've read many of the Anne of Green Gables books but nothing else by Lucy Maud Montgomery until Kilmeny of the Orchard. I found it quite wonderful. This is the great gift of ebooks - that these older books are being brought to a wide reading public who may not know they exist. For free, or for 99¢ we can go back in time and read what people were reading in the early days of the twentieth century. It was a pleasure to read a book that presented such a love story. Though there are obstacles to be surmounted, and old troubles to be faced, love really can prevail. Not a bad message for those days, or our time.

The name Kilmeny comes from a poem by James Hogg. You may read the whole poem here though I had some trouble with some of the Scottish words. I think the gist of it is that the girl, Kilmeny was pure and untouched by society. She was taken away, her life ruined, and she died. Please do correct me if I'm wrong. Montgomery's Kilmeny does not die, but when we first meet her she is a young girl completely free of outside influences.

A potato field on the north shore of Prince Edward Island



I read this for The Canadian Book Challenge 6

36 comments:

  1. Hey, that's a picture from my backyard! (joking!)

    I don't know if I've read this LM book. Maybe not. I'll have to look for that. All her books are so wonderfully gentle. Like our 'gentle island'.

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  2. I KNOW that's true - no joke!
    This is a really special book.

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  3. I loved learning that you picked up and loved this book after giving up on a couple of other more modern (I assume) novels. I just finished a current 'best-seller' and afterwards wondered why I wasted the time. So I'm ready for a kinder, gentler novel.

    I didn't really know Lucy Maude had written anything besides the Anne books, but I loved those so much...so long ago!

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    1. I loved the Anne books as a girl, and can remember the look and feel of the library books - green, no cover. :<)
      I reread some of them a few years ago, and found that really they are books for adults as well as young people. Lots of wisdom. Such good books.
      Many, many are available on Kindle for free or very little money. Such a gift for LMM fans.

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  4. I know the poem... I've always thought it rather haunting. Book is now downloaded.

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    1. Good. That means I 'got' it - it seemed haunting to me. Creepy.
      I think you'll like Kilmeny. She is a lovely character. Kindly with great depth.

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  5. What a gorgeous cover. I have it also on the free ebook format. A beautiful review Nan. Can't wait to get started on it. Just finished O. Douglas' Priorsford. Another wonderful trip back to gentler days. Sallie, LM Montgomery wrote prolifically! All the same style as Anne books.

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    1. I haven't read Priorsford yet. Lots of wonderful reading out there.
      The cover is thanks to these folks:

      http://www.thevintagereader.com/p/collection.html

      There are such good people in the world. I love that they are doing this fine work.

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  6. I'm so glad I came and read this post. I didn't now that LMM wrote in addition to her Anne series. I will be looking out for them. A peaceful read is always welcome.

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    1. There's a list of all her work here:

      http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/l-m-montgomery/

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  7. I loved Anne of Green Gables and I'm glad that you were able to find a gem after the other two books!!!

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    1. It's been a year of quite a few DNF books. Funny how that goes. Happily they were mostly library books so I didn't waste any money. :<)

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  8. Hi, I am new to your blog and an avid L.M. Montgomery fan. In fact, today I just finished a re-read of The Story Girl. The Kilmeny books are the only ones I haven't read. I really recommend Story Girl and the haunting Emily of Blue Moon series as well. Your book sounds wonderful. I have been to Prince Edward Island twice and suggest that you visit. It is nicknamed The Peaceful Island which indeed it is.

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by, and leaving a note. I have yet to read The Story Girl or the Emily books, but I shall! Thanks for the recommendations.
      We went to PEI three times when the kids were young, each time renting a house (in three different areas) for a week. Wonderful, wonderful memories. We still dream of living there.

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  9. I haven't read any LMM for a while (after finishing the Anne and Emily books). I miss her writing and *must* seek out some more - from your description this sounds like a good place to start.

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    1. I think you'll like it. It is a gentle read but with lots to think about which is true of her work in general, don't you think?

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  10. I haven't read this one either, Nan, and must sometime.

    The more I hear about Nook, the closer I get to wanting one, and this post is one such example of what can be found at one's fingertips. Thank you.

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    1. It's a dear book. I think you know I have both a Nook and Kindle - the original, reading-only ones - and I use them both. I originally bought the N because I didn't want all my money going to amazon. But I'm glad I did because the state's downloadable ebooks only work on the N. You have to have a higher end Kindle to get them.
      They are different, but pretty equal in my opinion.

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  11. I'm seriously considering a Kindle - the read only one, I have no use for the other gadgets. Can't believe I'm saying this. But the more I think on it the more I'd like to download the books that my library no longer carries. Many of the vintage mysteries I love are really hard to come by and I'm thinking they might be more available in ebook form. I have the Kindle ap on my PC, but I really REALLY dislike reading off a big screen.

    My brother, who is almost as big a reader as we are, Nan, has a Kindle and LOVES it. Though we both still love flesh and blood books if you know what I mean. :)

    This story you've reviewed sounds like something I'd download - not a mystery, but I don't confine myself to just one thing as you may know. :) At any rate, I'm adding the title to my Vintage List.

    As always, Nan, thanks for a wonderful post.

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    1. It is a good source of old books, and also new ones by new authors. I think I've mentioned that I use it only at bedtime. I had gotten an overuse injury in my shoulder from holding books. :<) My kind of sports injury.

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  12. I’m always a sucker for a pretty cover. This one is perfect. My best friend got a Nook, my daughter got a Kindle. Both were as die-hard as I about holding a book. They both rave on and on to me about quantity of titles.

    Feeling the pages, smelling the print, appreciating the typeset are as much a part of the experience of the read as the story. Used book finds ~ an airline ticket tucked midway in the pages, notes in the margins, a dedication on the flyleaf all call up a books history. Times are changing. Can I really curl up with a screen by my bedside? Snuggle up with a screen on a chilly winter day? I’m tempted . . .

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    1. As I wrote to Yvette, the ebook is my bedtime choice for ease of handling - light. It will never, ever replace my 'real' books. My shelves are full of them. There is room for both in my life.

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  13. Actually that potato field at PEI really caught my eye because we were there. This does sound like a wonderful book.

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    1. It's a beautiful place. Idyllic, like something out of a dream or a children's book, but oh, so real.

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  14. I've read most of LMM's books but not Kilmeny, must remedy that at once! We went to the Maritimes in 1997 and the time spent in PEI was magical, the weather was perfect and I was in heaven, having waited about 50 years to visit Anne's island. It didn't disappoint and we'd love to go again sometime.

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    1. So good to hear from you. I was just thinking about you. It is such a wonderful place. The only one that begins to equal 'Nicola's land' in my heart. :<)

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  15. thanks for this one, Nan - I do so love your book reviews

    what a treat this one is - I'd never heard of it, and it was FREE on my Kindle

    I notice you're using a Nook more often now - how do you like it compared to the Kindle. I'm tempted because of the color available. Not available in Canada, tho - altho shipping will be free, I'm wondering about the duty charged at crossing the border. hhhmmmm - a puzzlement

    I treated myself to one of Julia Child's books today to celebrate her 100th birthday - that one would be so lovely in color

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    1. Such a nice thing to say. Thank you!
      I've been using the Nook more often (and aren't you wonderful for noticing that) because I've been using the state library's downloadable books. You can get them on an advanced Kindle but not the reading-only one that I have. So, I get them for the Nook.
      What a nice way to celebrate her special day. Wish she were still here with us.

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  16. I must admit that I didn't realise that L M Montgomery had written anything other than the Anne of Green Gables books. This sounds a lovely story, I don't have a Kindle - yet! - but will see if it's available on Abebooks for not very much:)

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    1. So good to see your name here! If you go to fantastic fiction there's a list of all her series and standalone books.

      http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/l-m-montgomery/

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  17. I've not read this one by Montgomery before, but now I really want to! I just recently read her The Blue Castle, so maybe this will be my next!

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    1. I have Blue Castle and look forward to it.

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  18. Blue Castle was very good. I had not heard about this one before and will be putting it on my list.

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    1. I have Blue Castle on the Kindle and hope to read it this year.

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  19. Glad you've discovered this one...all very much in print in Canada of course! I like Kilmeny even with some of its old-fashioned elements that can jar a reader...but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Blue Castle! Hope you will read it and end up loving it as much as many of us do :)

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.