Like most of Montgomery's, I have re-read this book many, many times. So many times, in fact, that my copy's cover was falling off and the pages yellowing. I was excited to find the edition below for sale on Amazon. Bonus that I like the cover illustration much better than the old one!
5 stars: I love this book! Outside of the Anne books, this is my favorite of L.M. Montgomery's.
Valancy feels trapped. If it's not her overbearing mother, it's every relative who feels they must comment on her unmarried status. Let's be honest--her unmarried status (at 29 years old) has a lot to do with it, too. (Though she would rather be an old maid forever than be stuck with some of the men she's acquainted with.)
She floats through her days, discontented and despairing, until some news from her doctor changes everything. Somehow his devastating letter gives her a new lease on life. She is not going to spend one more minute doing things she despises!
As Valancy comes into her own, she creates a life of meaning, beauty, and even joy. Her family has no idea how to handle the new Valancy. It's just as well. Valancy's done listening to their advice anyway. From now on, she's going to really live!
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There's something so satisfying and empowering about Valancy's complete turn-around. In the beginning, she feels so helpless to change anything about her situation and the future seems long and bleak. However, once she's given a reason to stand up for herself, she finds that many of her fears are groundless. Or at least, they only affect her so much because she allows them to do it.
The characterizations of Valancy's extended family just make me smile. Montgomery really had a knack for writing relationships, with all the little nuances of expectations, roles, and family background added in. It's fun to see how one person changing their role has ripple effects throughout the rest of the family.
The romance in this one is a little different than most of her other books. Our hero is a bit unconventional and it starts out quite platonic--or at the very least, one-sided. It's always satisfying, though, to see it grow into something more. Love the ending--even though I know what's coming!
If I read this when I'm in a philosophical mood, it makes me think about how my life is going. Am I living the life I want to live, or just floating along? How many of my unmet goals or dreams could come about if I just changed a few small things? Am I allowing fear or criticism (or fear of criticism) to hold me back from doing things I really want to do?
Usually though, I read it just to enjoy it one more time.
(Finished reading--again--Feb. 26)
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If you haven't read this one yet, do it! Then let's talk about all of our favorite parts together. :)