Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jane of All Trades

Jane of Lantern Hill
-L. M. Montgomery

Jane is an awkward eleven year old living with her mother and grandmother in a old house in the city of Toronto. Jane's pretty but spineless mother can't stand up to her grandmother and Jane's life is dull and restrictive. One day Jane has the shock of her life when she is told that her father is not dead, her parents are only separated and her father is living on Prince Edward Island. Shock follows shock and Jane is told she has to spend her summer with the father who abandoned her. 

I found it surprising how this book focused on divorce which was still a scandalous issue in the 1920's. Words that jump to mind with LMM's writing are usually homey, cosy, pleasant and not scandalous! This didn't put me off though and I mainly enjoyed the book except for one frustrating issue.

What aggravated me was how as soon as Jane landed on Prince Edward Island she suddenly became this domestic goddess and neighbourhood succor. In Toronto, Jane doesn't excel at anything but on P.E. Island Jane can do everything and at blue ribbon level. The only thing described that Jane cannot do is bake doughnuts. Also she is afraid of cows for a short time but she manages to quickly overcome this fear - Amazonian woman that she is. In the space of one short summer Jane goes from having never done any house work or cooking to being able to; keep house for her father, cook every meal, entertain guests, have a flower garden that is the envy of the island, grow vegetables that are superior to all the neighbour's vegetables, polish the silver and scrub the floor weekly, swim in the ocean daily, spend countless hours playing, have a clutch of devoted friends, be the best friend of every adult and even - I kid you not - coach the local lonely bachelor in writing his love letters. 

At one point in the book Jane's father asks her the question that every reader is asking themselves,
Who taught you how do all these things? 
Jane opens her eyes wide and coyly says, Who taught me? why no one! I just seem to know what to do.
At which point the reader curls their lip sardonically. 

But putting aside unrealistic eleven year old's this was another solid L.M. Montgomery book and I rated it 3.5 Stars. 

"Could she possibly be in ignorance of the fact that Jane's pick peonies, were the talk of the community?"