Skip to main content

Book Review: Jane of Lantern Hill (1937)

(minor spoilers follow)
 
21470911

Jane and her mother live in Toronto with her grandmother, who loves her mother but bullies Jane. She has always believed that her father is dead, so she is shocked to find that he is in fact alive and living in Prince Edward Island, and  that he wants her to spend the summer with him. Jane goes determined to hate him, but instead she spends a glorious summer keeping house for her father and making friends with the locals. As time passes, both during and after the summer, Jane finds she has much to learn about herself and about life. She also tries to learn about the reasons for her parents' separation, and dreams that perhaps one day they might all be able to live together...
 
I liked Jane. She is perhaps more ordinary than most of Montgomery's heroines; although she is still imaginative, she's not in the same class as Anne or Emily. However, this doesn't stop her from having plenty of good qualities; she is caring, brave, and determined. Although at the start of the story she is rather awkward and lacking in confidence, as the story goes on she learns to become more confident and to stand up for herself more. She also develops a strong understanding of other people; she can see her parents much more clearly than they can see each other. The other characters are also very well-drawn, and realistic. I liked the story too. It's a gentle, character-driven story, which is my favourite kind, really. The writing is lovely and descriptive (of course).
 
There isn't anything that I strongly disliked about it, though there were some parts that I found hard to believe, like how quickly Jane learns to cook and garden, with no prior experience or training. She's supposed to have a natural gift for it, but I don't believe anyone could really learn that quickly, especially at the age of eleven. I also would have liked to spend more time with Jane's friends and neighbours at Lantern Hill; there were quite a lot of them, and there wasn't really time to get to know most of them in the time we spent there. Some of the parts where Jane's grandmother is being particularly awful were a little uncomfortable to read, and I'd really rather be reading about Lantern Hill. But that isn't necessarily a criticism of the story.
 
Two themes stood out to me as I was reading. One is that of jealousy, of selfish love. We are told that Jane's grandmother loves her mother, but it is a selfish love; she can't bear for anyone else, even Jane, to share in her mother's affections. Both of Jane's parents, too, have a tendency to be jealous, to want to be the exclusive focus of each other's attentions. The other theme was that of home. Jane longs for a proper home; she wants to be away from her grandmother, of course, but she also hates the house they live in. When she and her father are looking for a house in Lantern Hill, it has to be just right, to possess a little "magic". The people in the house matter, but the house itself matters too.
 
3629838

Overall, I thought this was a very good book, which deserves to be better known. It's a shame Montgomery never finished the sequel, because I would have liked to have spent more time with Jane and her friends.

Since family plays a big role in this story (and since, although it's now August, I finished it in July), I'm counting it for the July category of the Old School Kidlit reading challenge, which is "a family story". I'm also counting it for the Back to the Classics challenge, for "a classic set in a place you'd like to visit", because Prince Edward Island is definitely somewhere I'd love to go.

Comments

  1. Great review. I love Jane of Lantern Hill. I never knew LMM was planning a sequel. What a shame it wasn't finished. It would have been great to see how Jane grew up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how far she got with it. I would have liked to read about Jane growing up too!

      Delete
  2. I just read Anne of Green Gables for the first time a couple of months ago, and I am excited to have so many LMM books ahead of me. Jane sounds like a character I will like when I eventually read this book. Thanks for linking up with Old School Kidlit this month!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne of Green Gables is possibly my all-time favourite book :) I've enjoyed pretty much all the other LMM books I've read too, but I think this was one of the better ones.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

October Books

I haven't done a monthly recap post for a while, but I haven't posted much lately so I thought I'd do a summary of what I've read this month. Firstly, I finally finished Lord of the Rings! I think it's been round about a year, perhaps just over, since I first picked up The Fellowship of the Ring. I tend to be very slow about reading long books - I need to take breaks to read other things in the middle - but I didn't quite expect to take so long to finish. I did enjoy it, and am partly tempted to start over again with FOTR, since it feels like an age since I read that. At any rate, I can now say that I have read it.
I made some progress with Mount TBR this month; I'm still hopelessly behind my goal of 24 books, but I did get a few off: The Return of the King (as mentioned above), Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, and Forged in the Fire by Ann Turnbull. Scarlet was a disappointment - despite having really enjoyed Cinder (last year), I found this a bit of a chore to …

Footnotes: October 2017

Footnotes is a monthly link-up hosted by Ashley and Emily. It's all about sharing quotations. Just in time, I'm joining up with the October prompt, which is: a quotation from a poem. There were quite a few quotations I could have shared this month, but I've chosen a short quote from Charlotte Bronte's poem "Gilbert":
            For words oft give but echo faint             Of thoughts the mind conceives. I've definitely experienced thoughts and feelings that I wasn't able to express in words; sometimes this might be because I don't have the words or don't understand my thoughts well enough, but other times it does seem like language is inadequate. However, one of the joys of collecting quotations is that sometimes you find that others have said things that express your thoughts perfectly, when you weren't able to do so yourself.

Classics Club Spin

It's time for another Classics Club Spin! You can find out about it here. My list:
The Watsons by Jane AustenLorna Doone by R.D. BlackmoreAgnes Grey by Anne BrontëThe Pilgrim's Progress by John BunyanMy Antonia by Willa CatherThe Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. ChestertonIn the High Valley by Susan CoolidgeA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth GaskellCotillion by Georgette HeyerElizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret IrwinThe Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonaldFurther Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. MontgomeryPat of Silver Bush by L.M. MontgomeryHamlet by William ShakespeareThe Painted Garden by Noel StreatfeildLark Rise to Candleford by Flora ThompsonThe Chaplet of Pearls by Charlotte Mary Yonge Hopefully, this will help me to make a bit of progress with my list, of which I've been rather neglectful of late.