CM November 17, 1995. Vol. II, Number 5

image Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories.

L.M. Montgomery. Edited by Rea Wilmshurst.
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995. 224pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7710-6199-4.

Subject Headings:
Christmas stories, Canadian (English).
New Year-Juvenile fiction.
Christmas-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by A. Edwardsson.


"That's a Christmas present for you, Anne," said Matthew shyly. "Why -- why -- Anne, don't you like it? Well now -- well now." For Anne's eyes had suddenly filled with tears. "Like it! Oh Matthew!" Anne laid the dress over a chair and clasped her hands. "Matthew it's perfectly exquisite. Oh, I can never thank you enough. Look at those sleeves! Oh, it seems to me this must be a happy dream."

Just in time for the holidays, this new compilation of sixteen L.M. Montgomery stories will be welcomed by her many fans. Editor Rea Wilmshurst has a number of other Montgomery collections to her credit, the first being Akin to Ann: Tales of Other Orphans, and most recently, Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence.

Most of these stories have not been seen by the public since the turn of the century, when they were published by magazines looking for seasonal tales. For example, "Bertie's New Year" is from the 1905 Pittsburgh Christian Advocate. Fourteen of the stories were among five hundred such Montgomery finds by Wilmshurst.

The remaining two in this book are "Anne" stories -- one from Anne of Green Gables, and the other from Anne of Windy Poplars. The former recounts how Matthew's Christmas Gift of a fashionable puffed-sleeve dress delights unsuspecting Anne. In the later, Anne is now grown and the principal at Summerside High. She invites a teacher -- aloof, sarcastic Katherine -- to travel with her to Green Gables for Christmas:
Then Katherine said slowly, "Why do you ask me? It isn't because you like me . . . Even you couldn't pretend that. "It's because I can't bear to think of any human being spending Christmas in a place like this,'' said Anne candidly.

In her introduction, Wilmshurst asks that "if we find these tales are inclined to tack on a little lesson or give a little sermon at the end, we . . . forgive Montgomery. She did want, after all, to sell her work, and if a few lines of homily would do it, she would add them."

So these are stories with full of the Golden Rule and the happy endings the fit the spirit of the season. They can be sappy and even a tad preachy. For example:
After the merry dinner was over, the junior Osbornes brought in a Christmas tree, loaded with presents. They had bought them with the money that Mr. and Mrs. Osborne had meant for their own presents, and a splendid assortment they were. . . .
"This has been the jolliest Christmas I ever spent," said Frank, emphatically. "I thought we were just going to give the others a good time, but it was they who gave it to us," said Ida. . . . "You've learned the secret of happiness," said Cousin Myra gently. And the Osbornes understood what she meant.

Still, each piece is pure Montgomery, reflecting the conditions, speech, and values of her time with humour and wholesome, plucky characters (from toddlers to the elderly) that could appeal to present-day readers. Generally, these stories are senior fiction for strong readers, but some would appeal to younger children if read aloud.

This is a lovely collection with clean, clear text. There are no illustrations except for the warm colour cover of Anne holding up her new dress. It is a chubby paperback-size volume, a must for Avonlea fans in general, and a nice addition for any holiday collection.

Highly recommended.

A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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