This book contains twenty-seven short stories by L.M. Montgomery. They were originally published from 1909-1922. The stories vary in length and quality but also in type. What they all have in common, perhaps, is a satisfying happily ever after ending. There are stories of romance, of friendship, of families coming together again, of young people finding their place in the world.
I have already reviewed twenty-five of short stories in my weekly 'Keep It Short' series.
The two stories I haven't reviewed yet are "Uncle Richard's New Year's Dinner" and "White Magic."
Uncle Richard's New Year Dinner.
First sentence: Prissy Baker was in Oscar Miller's store New Year's morning, buying matches—for New Year's was not kept as a business holiday in Quincy—when her uncle, Richard Baker, came in. He did not look at Prissy, nor did she wish him a happy New Year; she would not have dared. Uncle Richard had not been on speaking terms with her or her father, his only brother, for eight years.
Premise/plot: A family feud is mended when Prissy Baker sets out to secretly prepare a New Year's dinner for her uncle. She overhears that he will be away on business and will be returning to an empty house. (His housekeeper having the holiday off.) She doesn't think anyone--even someone as mean as Uncle Richard--should have to eat a cold dinner on New Year's Day. That's no way to start the New Year off! She plans to be gone by the time he returns, but, as chance would have it. He "catches" her and is DELIGHTED with her consideration. He's ready to mend things at last.
My thoughts: It was okay. I didn't dislike it. And I suppose the world needs stories set at New Year's just like it needs Christmas stories.
First sentence: One September afternoon in the year of grace 1840 Avery and Janet Sparhallow were picking apples in their Uncle Daniel Sparhallow's big orchard.
Premise/plot: Janet cannot understand why Avery isn't super-excited about her upcoming wedding to Randall Burnley. Who wouldn't want to marry Randall?!?! But Avery decidedly is NOT in love. She's marrying because she's twenty-two and afraid of being an old maid. As for why Randall, the Burnleys are the only local family "good enough" for the Sparhallows.
Janet does something DARING. She goes to the "local witch" and gets a love potion. Randall, in her opinion, deserves a wife who adores him. If she can make Avery fall in love with Randall, all will be well. She tries to follow the instructions, but, fate intervenes. The first person Avery sees is NOT Randall. Janet is the one who will have to confess to Randall that Avery is going to jilt him and marry someone else. How will he take the news?
My thoughts: I LOVE this story. I do. Janet and Randall were obviously meant to be. Readers can spot where this one is heading from the start. Janet LOVES Randall but isn't quite aware that she's in love with him. And even if she has her suspicions, her doubts, she's convinced that Randall could never, ever, ever, ever love her like that. After all, he's been "courting" her sister, Avery for years now. True Janet and Randall spend a great deal of time together talking and laughing. But it's Avery he's attached to, right?!
Randall could never fancy her—a little plain, brown thing, only half grown. Nobody could think of her beside beautiful, rose-faced Avery. Janet accepted this fact unquestioningly. She had never been jealous. She only felt that she wanted Randall to have everything he wanted—to be perfectly happy.
"Now I can tell you, Janet, how much I love you." "Me? Me!" choked Janet. "You. Why, you're in the very core of my heart, girl. Don't tell me you can't love me—you can—you must—why, Janet," for his eyes had caught and locked with hers for a minute, "you do!"
Three years ago you were a child. I did not think about you. I wanted a wife—and Avery was pretty. I thought I was in love with her. Then you grew up all at once—and we were such good friends—I never could talk to Avery—she wasn't interested in anything I said—and you have eyes that catch a man—I've always thought of your eyes.
Abel and His Great Adventure (read online)
If you can sit in silence with a person for half an hour and feel comfortable, you and that person can be friends. If you can't, friends you'll never be, and you needn't waste time in trying."Aunt Philippa and the Men (read online)
"So you want to get married?" she said. "You'd better wait till you're grown up." "How old must a person be before she is grown up?" I asked gravely. "Humph! That depends. Some are grown up when they're born, and others ain't grown up when they're eighty."Charlotte's Ladies (read online)
I wouldn't really like to be anybody but myself, even if I am homely. It's better to be yourself with mousy hair and freckles than somebody else who is ever so beautiful.How We Went to the Wedding (read online)
The sergeant gave us the tent and stove, and sent a man down to the Reserve for Peter Crow. Moreover, he vindicated his title of friend by making us take a dozen prairie chickens and a large ham—besides any quantity of advice. We didn't want the advice but we hugely welcomed the ham.Miss Sally's Letter (read online)
Prose, rightly written and read, is sometimes as beautiful as poetry.The Garden of Spices (read online)
To love is easy, and therefore common; but to understand—how rare that is!The Gossip of Valley View (read online)
Young Thomas looked rather serious, however, when the minister and his wife called that evening and referred to the report. Young Thomas gravely said that it was unfounded. The minister looked graver still and said he was sorry—he had hoped it was true. His wife glanced significantly about Young Thomas's big, untidy sitting-room, where there were cobwebs on the ceiling and fluff in the corners and dust on the mop-board, and said nothing, but looked volumes.The Letters (read online)
The pain and suffering of the world never dies, and while it lives there will be work for such as you to do, and in the doing of it you will find comfort and strength and the highest joy of living. I believe in you. I believe you will make of your life a beautiful and worthy thing. I give you Godspeed for the years to come. Out of my own loneliness I, an unknown friend, who has never clasped your hand, send this message to you. I understand—I have always understood—and I say to you: "Be of good cheer."