This is a collection of short stories by L.M. Montgomery originally published in various magazines in 1907 and 1908. They vary in genre, style, and quality. But there are some great stories.
My thoughts on the first seven stories in the collection can be found in Keep It Short #1. Keep it Short #2 features the next five stories. Keep It Short #4 features the next five stories. The remaining short stories are reviewed below.
The Girl who Drove the Cows
First sentence: "I wonder who that pleasant-looking girl who drives cows down the beech lane every morning and evening is," said Pauline Palmer, at the tea table of the country farmhouse where she and her aunt were spending the summer.
Premise/plot: This one is about snobbery. Aunt Olivia is a BIG snob, and she "despises" the beautiful girl who drives the cows. Pauline, the niece, likes her and is in fact inspired by her. She takes her photograph for her artist collection, and it wins first prize. The photograph gains attention and it is revealed who the girl really is....
My thoughts: I liked it okay.
The Growing Up of Cornelia
First sentence: Aunt Jemima gave me this diary for a Christmas present. It's just the sort of gift a person named Jemima would be likely to make.
My thoughts: I enjoyed the narration of this one. This one may just be one of my favorites.
- People might talk about my not being brought out, but they will talk far more about the blunders I shall make.
- The doleful fact is, I'm too wretchedly shy and awkward to live. It fills my soul with terror to think of donning long dresses and putting my hair up and going into society.
- I can't talk and men frighten me to death. I fall over things as it is, and what will it be with long dresses? As far back as I can remember it has been my one aim and object in life to escape company. Oh, if only one need never grow up! If I could only go back four years and stay there!
- It is rather good to have a diary to pour out your woes in when you feel awfully bad and have no one to sympathize with you. I've been used to shutting them all up in my soul and then they sometimes fermented and made trouble.
- I've found out what diaries are for ... to work off blue moods in, moods that come on without any reason whatever and therefore can't be confided to any fellow creature. You scribble away for a while ... and then it's all gone ... and your soul feels clear as crystal once more.
The Old Fellow's Letter.
First sentence: Ruggles and I were down on the Old Fellow. It doesn't matter why and, since in a story of this kind we must tell the truth no matter what happens—or else where is the use of writing a story at all?—I'll have to confess that we had deserved all we got and that the Old Fellow did no more than his duty by us.
Premise/plot: A letter written in jest--as a prank by college students--ends up leading to a happily ever ending for one of their professors.
My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this one! It is very silly and definitely old-fashioned.
The Parting of Ways
First sentence: Mrs. Longworth crossed the hotel piazza, descended the steps, and walked out of sight down the shore road with all the grace of motion that lent distinction to her slightest movement.
Premise/plot: A woman reconsiders leaving her husband and running away with another man after a heart-felt conversation with an artist-friend who idealizes her.
My thoughts: It was okay.
The Promissory Note
First sentence: Ernest Duncan swung himself off the platform of David White's store and walked whistling up the street. Life seemed good to Ernest just then. Mr. White had given him a rise in salary that day, and had told him that he was satisfied with him. Mr. White was not easy to please in the matter of clerks, and it had been with fear and trembling that Ernest had gone into his store six months before. He had thought himself fortunate to secure such a chance. His father had died the preceding year, leaving nothing in the way of worldly goods except the house he had lived in. For several years before his death he had been unable to do much work, and the finances of the little family had dwindled steadily. After his father's death Ernest, who had been going to school and expecting to go to college, found that he must go to work at once instead to support himself and his mother.
My thoughts: I liked this one. Not all of Montgomery's stories are silly romances.
The Revolt of Mary Isabel
First sentence: "For a woman of forty, Mary Isabel, you have the least sense of any person I have ever known," said Louisa Irving.Louisa had said something similar in spirit to Mary Isabel almost every day of her life. Mary Isabel had never resented it, even when it hurt her bitterly. Everybody in Latimer knew that Louisa Irving ruled her meek little sister with a rod of iron and wondered why Mary Isabel never rebelled. It simply never occurred to Mary Isabel to do so; all her life she had given in to Louisa and the thought of refusing obedience to her sister's Mede-and-Persian decrees never crossed her mind. Mary Isabel had only one secret from Louisa and she lived in daily dread that Louisa would discover it. It was a very harmless little secret, but Mary Isabel felt rightly sure that Louisa would not tolerate it for a moment.
Premise/plot: Mary Isabel DOES rebel and all is well in the end.
My thoughts: I liked Mary Isabel. I was cheering for her from the start.
The Twins and a Wedding
First sentence: Sometimes Johnny and I wonder what would really have happened if we had never started for Cousin Pamelia's wedding. I think that Ted would have come back some time; but Johnny says he doesn't believe he ever would, and Johnny ought to know, because Johnny's a boy. Anyhow, he couldn't have come back for four years. However, we did start for the wedding and so things came out all right, and Ted said we were a pair of twin special Providences.
Premise/plot: Twins run away from home to see a wedding--they'd been invited, but the parents decided to leave them at home. They get off at the wrong train station, and are bitterly disappointed that they won't see a wedding after all. Or will they? They interrupt an arguing couple...and....well the rest is classic Montgomery.
My thoughts: Definitely an enjoyable read. I'm glad the collection ended with such a fun story. It is a good reminder that sometimes it's not the premise so much as the characters.
Overall, I'd rank my top five stories as:
- By Grace of Julius Caesar
- Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves
- The Growing Up of Cornelia
- Four Winds
- Anna's Love Letters
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews