Sunday, June 09, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Emily's Quest (1927)

Emily's Quest. L.M. Montgomery. 1927. 228 pages.

Emily's Quest is the sequel to Emily Climbs. (The first book is Emily of New Moon). Of the three Emily books, this one is my least favorite. Emily seems more distant, more strange in this attempt at a romance novel. As a romance novel, I felt it was weak. Emily's emotions were messy, at best. Sometimes feeling depression and despair because a certain someone (Teddy) didn't appear to care for her in that way. Sometimes feeling extremely giddy--almost ecstatic--because she found a new love that was oh-so-perfect for her. Sometimes feeling at peace with herself precisely because she's decided to be done with love for once and all. Emily's love life, for better or worse, is the focus of this last novel. And Emily understands herself and her wants and her needs least of anyone.

There is Emily's relationship with Dean Priest. In some ways, readers *know* him even better than Teddy. He definitely gets more scenes and more dialogue in all the books. Now more time doesn't necessarily mean readers appreciate him more. Readers can decide for themselves if Dean's love for Emily is true and pure and good. Or if Dean is a manipulator. (I think they're both using each other, in a way.)

While the first two books emphasized Emily's writing, this one didn't focus on her writing or her writing career as much. In fact, Emily decides that writing is something she could give up after all. Though she returns to it after a while. My favorite chapter comes with Emily's publication of a novel. It is chapter 22 when the reviews of her books start coming in! The quotes are so much fun! My favorite might just be, "The general impression left by the book is that it might be much worse."

While Emily was surrounded by friends and family in previous books. In this last book, readers mainly get a lonely, confused Emily. Almost all of Emily's former friends have left her behind and started their lives, their new beginnings. So a moody at-times hypocritical Emily is what readers get most of the time. An Emily who isn't always honest with herself is likewise dishonest with those closest to her. Which is why Teddy ends up almost marrying the wrong girl. (There are so many wrong things in this one!)

Have you read the Emily books? Which one is your favorite?

Favorite quotes:
Don't let a three-o'clock-at-night feeling fog your soul.
"I want you to promise me," said Emily,"that whenever you see that star you'll remember that I am believing in you--hard."
"Will you promise me that whenever you look at that star you'll think of me?" said Teddy. "Or rather, let us promise each other that whenever we see that star we think of each other--always. Everywhere and as long as we live." 
 Oh, I don't wonder babies always cry when they wake up in the night. So often I want to do it too.
There is always such a fascinating expectancy and uncertainty about the mail.
Emily decided that she liked a man whose eyes said more than his lips. But he told her she looked like "the moonbeam of a blue summer night" in that gown. I think it was that phrase that finished Emily--shot her clean through the heart--like the unfortunate little duck of the nursery rhyme. Emily was helpless before the charm of a well-turned phrase. Before the evening was over Emily, for the first time in her life, had fallen wildly and romantically into the wildest and most romantic kind of love--"the love the poets dreamed of," as she wrote in her diary. The young man--I believe his beautiful and romantic name was Aylmer Vincent--was quite as madly in love as she. He literally haunted New Moon. He wooed beautifully. His way of saying "dear lady" charmed her. When he told her that "a beautiful hand was one of the chief charms of a beautiful woman" and looked adoringly at hers Emily kissed her hands when she went to her room that night because his eyes had caressed them. When he called her raptly "a creature of mist and flame" she misted and flamed about dim old New Moon until Aunt Elizabeth unthinkingly quenched her by asking her to fry up a batch of doughnuts for Cousin Jimmy. When he told her she was like an opal--milk-white outside but with a heart of fire and crimson, she wondered if life would always be like this. "And to think I once imagined I cared for Teddy Kent," she thought in amazement at herself. She neglected her writing and asked Aunt Elizabeth if she could have the old blue box in the attic for a hope chest. Aunt Elizabeth graciously acceded. The record of the new suitor had been investigated and found impeccable. Good family--good social position--good business. All the omens were auspicious.
A house isn't a home without the ineffable contentment of a cat with its tail folded about its feet. A cat gives mystery, charm, suggestion.
Yet the Dunbars were at least a respectable family; but what was to be said of Larry Dix--one of the "notorious Priest Pond Dixes"--whose father had once pastured his cows in the graveyard and whose uncle was more than suspected of having thrown a dead cat down a neighbour's well for spite? To be sure, Larry himself was doing well as a dentist and was such a deadly-serious, solemn-in-earnest young man that nothing much could be urged against him, if one could only swallow the fact that he was a Dix. Nevertheless, Aunt Elizabeth was much relieved when Emily turned him adrift. "Such presumption," said Aunt Laura, meaning for a Dix to aspire to a Murray. "It wasn't because of his presumption I packed him off," said Emily. "It was because of the way he made love. He made a thing ugly that should have been beautiful." "I suppose you wouldn't have him because he didn't propose romantically," said Aunt Elizabeth contemptuously. "No. I think my real reason was that I felt sure he was the kind of man who would give his wife a vacuum cleaner for a Christmas present," vowed Emily.
"Jasper Frost has been coming out here from Shrewsbury of late. I don't think he will come any more--after our conversation of last night. He told me he loved me with a love 'that would last through eternity.' But I thought an eternity with Jasper would be rather long. Aunt Elizabeth will be a little disappointed, poor dear. She likes Jasper and the Frosts are 'a good family.' I like him, too, but he is too prim and bandboxy. "'Would you like a slovenly beau?' demanded Aunt Elizabeth. "This posed me. Because I wouldn't. "'Surely there's a happy medium,' I protested. "'A girl shouldn't be too particular when she is'--I feel sure Aunt Elizabeth was going to say 'nearly twenty-four.' But she changed it to 'not entirely perfect herself.' "I wish Mr. Carpenter had been alive to hear Aunt Elizabeth's italics. They were killing."

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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