My absolute favorite books in the world, despite my English major, remain L. M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" series, particularly the third, fourth, and fifth books, but until I purchased the "Emily of New Moon" trilogy, they were the only works by Montgomery that I had ever read. Emily is also said to be semi-autobiographical in nature, so I was very curious to explore her series.
I lept into the first book, "Emily of New Moon," as soon as the box arrived, and found even this initial book about Emily's childhood to be very different from Anne. Montgomery's language is as fluid and charming as ever, her descriptions of secondary characters still seethe with verisimilitude and gentle, hysterical satire, but the nature of Emily herself is different from that of Anne. Emily is quieter, deeper, stronger, and her loneliness comes across as a slightly darker sense of isolation than anything Anne experienced. Though Marilla could be strict with Anne, Emily faces much more opposition from her family, and much harsher public opinion in the town. Her story is still lyrical, fanciful, and engaging, but it is a shade deeper, cooler in its atmosphere and themes. The second book, "Emily Climbs," deals with metafiction as Emily struggles to "climb the Alpine path" of success as a writer. It, too, is beautiful, touching, and a shade more grave than Anne, and it is a fascinating account of experiences and thoughts that must have been similar to Montgomery's own as she began to write in P.E.I. In this book, Emily is really already adolescent, and the book seems like it would touch older children or young adults more than young children who often read the Anne series. The third book, "Emily's Quest," is more subtly, psychologically adult, and as Emily grows into a woman she faces life-changing illness, a loveless engagement, and the death or absence of many of her friends. The atmosphere of isolation and struggle returns in force, and the true revelatory power of Montgomery's writing can be seen. The third Emily book would not have impressed me so well as a younger reader, but as an adult reader, I like it just as well as Anne because of its very difference. The only real comparison with "Emily's Quest" is "Rilla of Ingleside," with its darker, war-torn world of heavier themes than the rest of the Anne books.
Anyone who is looking to explore Montgomery's elegant, captivating style, and particularly to explore her growth, skill, and versatility as a writer, should read Emily right away! They will stick with your soul, as Anne does, but to a different part. My best description of them is that they are the same beloved Montgomery, to grow into after you have read the eight Anne books.