Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

Emily Climbs cover

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery is the second book in a trilogy, I only realised that when I started reading this one but I decided just to bash on with it. The book was first published in 1925 but my copy is a very recent purchase and a Virago reprint. When I bought it Jack mentioned that he thought the cover was horrible. Is that a bloke thing? I think it’s enchanting!

Emily is an orphan who lives on Prince Edward Island, Canada – at a house called New Moon with two of her aunts and a cousin. She has become very attached to the place, despite the fact that her Aunt Elizabeth is a bit of a dragon. The Scottish Presbyterian psyche is very evident in the family. Emily is constantly being told to remember that she is a Murray, despite the fact that her father was a Starr. The Murray family is seen as of some consequence locally.

Emily longs to become a writer, but Aunt Elizabeth thinks that fiction is telling lies so she’s dead against Emily’s writing. Her teacher Mr Carpenter has encouraged her writing over the years but when it comes time for Emily to move on to a high school in nearby Shrewsbury it’s by no means an automatic transfer as far as Aunt Elizabeth is concerned. It would be expensive and she doesn’t really want Emily to leave New Moon and her influence.

A compromise is reached when it’s agreed that Emily can stay in Shrewsbury with Aunt Ruth – another Murray, but this one got married and is now a widow. Emily must promise not to write any fiction for the three years she’ll be studying.

This is a lovely read, I enjoyed being a part of the community and meeting all the quirky inhabitants, many of whom I recognised. There’s a possessive widowed mother who is determined to keep any females away from her beloved only son. Harsh aunts who never give any praise – for fear of spoiling the child, but in times of dire need they’re on your side against the world. I felt such an affinity with Emily who is a book lover and a tree lover, she wrote:

“Trees have as much individuality as human beings. Not even two spruces are alike. There is always some kink or bend of bough to single each one out from its fellows. Some trees love to grow sociably together, their branches twining like Ilse and me with our arms about each other, whispering interminably of their secrets. Then there are more exclusive groups of four or five – clan Murray trees; and there are hermits of trees who choose to stand apart in solitary state and who hold the commune only with the winds of heaven. Yet these trees are often the best worth knowing. One feels it is more of a triumph to win their confidence than that of easier trees.”

L.M. Montgomery’s Scottish roots are very much in evidence in this book. There’s also a lot of comedy – and I needed that!