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L. M. Montgomery
Edited by Rea Wilmshurst
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1994. 224pp,
cloth, $24.99, ISBN 0-7710-6173-0. CIP

Subject Headings:
Courtship-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15

Reviewed by Darleen R. Golke

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

The sixth volume of editor Wilmshurst's "rediscovered" Montgomery short stories presents eighteen tales of courtship and marriage published in various magazines and newspapers between 1899 and 1935. Despite Montgomery's own less-than-ideal marriage, all of the stories end happily with the pairs of lovers, eleven of them young and seven of them not so young, making it to the altar. Presumably, Montgomery wrote the stories as commercial ventures and felt compelled to provide the conventional happy endings to satisfy the readers of her day. Wilmshurst includes eight reproductions of the original illustrations that accompanied the stories.

Montgomery infuses these romantic tales with her self-described "impish sense of humour." The path to the a ltar sometimes is complicated by the traditional problems of lovers--misunderstandings as in "Aunt Philippa and Men," jealousies as in "The Way of Winning Anne," parents as in "By the Rule of the Contrary," and rivals as in "The Pursuit of the Ideal." In other stories outsiders both complicate and promote romance--in "The Gossip of Valley View" a youthful April Fool's trick promotes the unlikely couple's marriage, in "The Touch of Fate" well-intentioned help complicates the romance, in "When Jack and Jill Took a Hand" twins act as catalysts, and in "The Dissipation of Miss Ponsonby" teenagers assist in rekindling an old love aff air.

Each story with its successful stroll to the altar reflects the optimism with which many marriages begin. Montgomery provides colourful descriptions and clever observations as she portrays settings both urban and rural and characters both young and middle-aged.

While loyal fans of Montgomery will forgive the determinedly hopeful tone of these stories, other readers may have some difficulty accepting the traditional romantic conclusions. Montgomery's adeptly executed humorous sketches of unusual characters provide the strongest plus in the collection. Libraries at all levels will want to add this volume to their Montgomery collection, but may have difficulty persuading all but the most romantic to appreciate the stories.


Darleen R. Golke is a teacher-librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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