Monday 17 February 2014

Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery

Jane has never felt like she belongs; she lives with her mother, named Robin, Aunt Gertrude and Jane’s grandmother, Mrs Kennedy.  Mrs Kennedy’s favourite child by far is Robin, she is the only person in the world she actually loves. But it’s an unhealthy, selfish love.  She wants to keep Robin under her thumb, and resents anybody else that Robin cares for.  Robin loves her daughter, but Robin is a weak person, and she doesn’t have the strength of character to stand up to her mother. To keep the peace, she tries to hide much of her feelings for her daughter, but enough is evident that Jane is resented by her grandmother.  The grandmother isn’t physically abusive towards her, but she is belittling and cruel. Nothing Jane does is right, and she is constantly made to feel like a substandard disappointment.  She has hardly any self-confidence and very little self-esteem. 

Jane has been brought up without her father’s presence in her life, but he’s not dead, he and Robin have been living apart for the best part of 10 years.  Jane’s father, Andrew, writes requesting that Jane visit him on P.E. Island for the summer. Jane is forced to go, prepared to hate a person who she believes has made her mother unhappy and instead she meets somebody who she feels like she’s always known, and understands where she has inherited many of her character traits from.  Not only that, but Jane is allowed and encouraged to undertake things that she’s always wanted to do, and has talent in doing.  She also meets many people who look up to her and like her.  Jane returns from her holiday transformed; she isn’t made of the same stuff as her mother, and she is much harder to cow.  The start of Jane’s journey to a happier life begins with her first summer visit to Lantern Hill on P.E. Island...

This was a wonderful story from the author of Anne of Green Gables.  I love her style of prose, and Jane’s story was so touching.  The first third or so of the book was heartbreaking in a very non-dramatic way, I felt so bad for poor Jane, a child should NEVER feel like this, constantly being belittled and her mother not standing up for her.  I pitied Robin but I was also angry with her for allowing this – she knew how unhappy Jane was, and even if Robin was financially dependent on her mother I felt like she should have made more effort to be there for Jane, to love her in secret if need be. When Jane finally starts getting some positive encouragement and is allowed to do things in line with her natural abilities rather than being made to toe the line to what is deemed socially acceptable by her grandmother you can see her petals unfurl.  I so enjoyed this story and I can’t recommend it enough, it is just wonderful!

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