36. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery
Rapture, creamy, dreamily--these are the hallmark words of an L.M. Montgomery novel. Jane of Lantern Hill is the perfect amalgam of Montgomery's best plots and descriptions--refined, elevated, reified.
Montgomery is notorious for her descriptions that run off the page (especially of flowers and sunsets), her protagonists' soliloquizing tendencies, and her plots' lazily episodical nature. All of this is present in Jane , but the flowers are pruned, the protagonist is capable as well as dreamy, and the plot's episodes contribute to a clean arc.
Jane, unlike Montgomery's other famous protagonists, grows up in Toronto, with her soft-willed mother and forbidding grandmother. But of course she's magically whisked away to the infinitely divine (another one of Montgomery's words) Prince Edward Island, by the father she doesn't remember. Jane will have to reconcile her old and new selves, and heal some old wounds, all while learning to cook, bake, garden, and all the other mundane tasks her grandmother won't let her do (Montgomery really is a genius at creating these cuttingly nasty old society dames).
I will never cease to be grateful for having found this book. I remember a fellow blogger recommending it on a comments list, somewhere, and I added it to my Bookmooch wishlist. Soon enough, it arrived at my door, perfect down to its pristine condition and 1980s cover that matches all of my other L.M. Montgomery books. I've, sadly, learned to be wary when discovering the little known works of my favorite authors, especially very early works or very late works. Jane is later than Montgomery's more famous books such as the Anne and Emily series, but it wasn't her last gasp either. Here, her style is matured, ripened. (Sorry for the endless description, I'm feeling Montgomeryesque). But then, I have tended to enjoy her lesser known works, A Tangled Web is one of my favorite books of all time, and the short story collection The Road to Yesterday, is full of gems. Nothing she's written has really let me down, except for maybe Blue Castle.
In any case, I cannot praise Jane enough. Montgomery fans will love her, Anne of Green Gables junkies should check her out, and anyone who likes stories about writerly, plucky girls and fabulous descriptions of settings should set-to.