Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

"Life, deal gently with her... Love, never desert her." ~Jane of Lantern Hill

Jane of Lantern Hill is one of my favorite L. M. Montgomery novels. Set in the late 1920's, it was one of her later books, and maybe that's a good thing. The story is light and well-paced, the characters are as endearing as her earlier Edwardian novels, but the book lacks the endless descriptions and flowery poeticism that are so prevalent in the Anne books. Not that the descriptions are necessarily a bad thing...

I'm getting off topic. Jane of Lantern Hill centers around an eleven-year-old girl named Jane Stuart, who lives with her mother, her aunt Gertrude, and her grim, austere grandmother at 60 Gay Street in Toronto. Grandmother and Aunt Gertrude rarely smile, but Jane and her mother get along beautifully--and of course there's Jody, the little girl next door, Jane's best friend. All her life, Jane has believed her father was dead... until a girl at school reveals the awful secret: Jane's father is alive and well, living in a remote little place called Prince Edward Island. And things only get worse when her father, out of the blue, writes to say that he wants Jane to come spend the summer with him. Summer on a tiny little island away from Mother, with a father she's never met and doesn't want to meet? Jane is sure that the next three months will be agony.

She's in for a real surprise. PEI is not only a beautiful place, it's a friendly place. Jane and her dad get on fantastically from the beginning, and Jane makes dozens of new friends. She learns housekeeping in Dad's little cottage, teaches herself to swim in the dazzling blue gulf, develops a liking for cats, and manages to capture an escaped lion. But she can't be perfectly happy, because she knows Mother is far away in Toronto, missing Jane tremendously. Why on earth did Dad and Mother ever separate in the first place....?

This book is a delightful read, and I heartily recommend it! Jane is one of those heroines who is almost real; she's the kind of girl I'd like to have for a friend. The book is probably best for ages 10-16, and it's available through Borders, Barnes and Noble, and the Lancaster County Library System. I'd rate it a nine out of ten.

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