Montgomery, L.M. 1925. Emily Climbs. Bantam Books. 325 pages.
Emily Byrd Starr was alone in her room, in the old New Moon farmhouse at Blair Water, one stormy night in a February of the olden years before the world turned upside down.
The second book in the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery. (My review of Emily of New Moon.) This one focuses in on the high school years of Emily Starr. It sees her leaving Aunt Laura and Aunt Elizabeth and going to live with Aunt Ruth in Shrewsbury. Ilse, Perry, and Teddy are all going to high school in Shrewsbury too. (But they get to live in the dorms.) In exchange for being allowed to go, to keep on with her education, Emily has had to promise to give up writing all fiction. She's still allowed to journal, to scribble in her Jimmy Books, but every word she writes must be true. That doesn't mean she can't have fun in her writing. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction after all. But it is a hardship for her nonetheless.
Emily Climbs has its charming moments. Emily is more determined than ever to be a writer. And within Emily Climbs, she begins to find success. She still receives rejection slips most of the time. But she's beginning to receive good news in the mail as well. A poem published here and there. And some of these publications--not all of them, mind you, have paid her for her work! It seems that Emily might just be able to pay her relatives back for her education, a particular dream for Emily so that she won't have to be that poor orphan relation.
There is something delightful about Emily and her friends and family. Even something delightful in her nemesis: Evelyn Blake.
As she grows into a young woman, Emily is beginning to receive some attention from boys--Perry is as stuck on her as ever. As is the much-older-and-slightly-creepy Dean Priest. And then there's her wooing cousin, Andrew. But the one boy Emily has her heart set on, Teddy, seems to be a bit too shy to make the first move.
Here's one of my favorite quotes, taken from a conversation with Mr. Carpenter, Emily's former teacher and quite close friend.
"Nothing good about this but it's title. A priggish little yarn. And Hidden Riches is not a story--it's a machine. It creaks. It never made me forget for one instant that it was a story. Hence it isn't a story." (91)
There's something so true about that last part. For a story to work, really work, it has to make the reader forget that it's a story. Not easy to do, but the best writers seem to manage it.
Bookshelves of Doom also has a review.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews