Friday, November 21, 2008

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

“The Story Girl” was L.M. Montgomery’s personal favorite among the books she had finished by the end of her residence at Prince Edward Island, according to her autobiography, “The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career”.

Set in the sleepy rural town of Carlisle, this is the story of a group of children who spend an unforgettable summer together. It is told through the eyes of Beverley King, who is reminiscing about his boyhood memories of the Story Girl and all the good times the children had together while listening to her stories.

Many of the stories were actual occurrences that had been rumored throughout the town of Cavendish, Lucy Maud’s early residence, and a certain fringe character named Peg Bowen, a mentally unstable woman whom all the children were afraid of, is the one real live person that Montgomery transplanted into her books.

I read a review on Amazon in which the reader wondered if The Story Girl was actually the young Lucy Maud. I doubt it, for while Sara Stanley, a.k.a. The Story Girl, was an excellent verbal storyteller, her written stories fell absolutely flat.

One could certainly find one’s young self in at least of the diverse lot of children who cast their lots together that summer. There is the beautiful Felicity, who knows how to cook lovely things but wishes she could be as interesting as The Story Girl. In turn, The Story Girl wishes she could do something useful, but fails every time she tries to bake. Cecily is all-around sweet and well-wishing. Sara Ray is dull but a good and loyal friend. Peter, the hired boy, seems to have much promise as a leader. Felix is chubby and sensitive. And Beverley does not tell much about himself – but he is an insightful story-teller with a great memory and a well-kept journal.

The tales are quite diverse in range: funny, sad, wild, scary. What they have in common is that they all have a captive audience when told by Sara Stanley. One could read the book for the little stories alone. But there is a larger story throughout, one of the personal growth of all the children. They learn about the importance of forgiveness, the silliness of grudges, the lost days given to fear. They also learn that pickles and milk might bring on enviably wild dreams, but are also quite poisonous to the stomach when taken together.

The story is timeless as a tale of the importance of stories in general, to bringing friends and family together. This book is well-suited to being read aloud to your children, given for their personal reading, or read by adults for pleasure.

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

I just finished this and loved it. I enjoyed your review.