Emily Climbs Mass Market Paperback – Feb 1 1989
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Writing Herself Out
Emily Byrd Starr was alone in her room, in the old new Moon farmhouse at Blair Water, one stormy night in a February of the olden years before the world turned upside down. She was at that moment as perfectly happy as any human being is ever permitted to be. Aunt Elizabeth, in consideration of the coldness of the night, had allowed her to have a fire in her little fireplace – a rare favour. It was burning brightly and showering a red-golden light over the small, immaculate room, with its old-time furniture and deep-set, wide-silled windows, to whose frosted, blue-white panes the snowflakes clung in little wreaths. It lent depth and mystery and allure to the mirror on the wall which reflected Emily as she sat coiled on the ottoman before the fire, writing, by the light of two tall, white candles – which were the only approved means of illumination at New Moon – in a brand-new, glossy, black "Jimmy-book" which Cousin Jimmy had given her that day. Emily had been very glad to get it, for she had filled the one he had given her the preceding autumn, and for over a week she had suffered acute pangs of suppression because she could not write in a non-existent "diary."
Her diary had become a dominant factor in her young, vivid life. It had taken the place of certain "letters" she had written in her childhood to her dead father, in which she had been wont to "write out" her problems and worries – for even in the magic years when one is almost fourteen one has problems and worries, especially when one is under the strict and well-meant but not over-tender governance of an Aunt Elizabeth Murray. Sometimes Emily felt that if it were not for her diary she would have flown into little bits by reason of consuming her own smoke. The fat, black "Jimmy-book" seemed to her like a personal friend and a safe confidant for certain matters which burned for expression and yet were too combustible to be trusted to the ears of any living being. Now blank books of any sort were not easy to come by at New Moon, and if it had not been for Cousin Jimmy, Emily might never have had one. Certainly Aunt Elizabeth would not give her one – Aunt Elizabeth thought Emily wasted far too much time "over her scribbling nonsense" as it was – and Aunt Laura did not dare to go contrary to Aunt Elizabeth in this – more by token that Laura herself really thought Emily might be better employed. Aunt Laura was a jewel of a woman, but certain things were holden from her eyes.
Now Cousin Jimmy was never in the least frightened of Aunt Elizabeth, and when the notion occurred to him that Emily probably wanted another "blank book," that blank book materialised straightway, in defiance of Aunt Elizabeth's scornful glances. He had gone to Shrewsbury that very day, in the teeth of the rising storm, for no other reason than to get it. So Emily was happy, in her subtle and friendly firelight, while the wind howled and shrieked through the great old trees to the north of New Moon, sent huge, spectral wreaths of snow whirling across Cousin Jimmy's famous garden, drifted the sundial completely over, and whistled eerily through the Three Princesses – as Emily always called the three tall Lombardies in the corner of the garden.
"I love a storm like this at night when I don't have to go out in it," wrote Emily. "Cousin Jimmy and I had a splendid evening planning out our garden and choosing our seeds and plants in the catalogue. Just where the biggest drift is making, behind the summer-house, we are going to have a bed of pink asters, and we are going to give the Golden Ones – who are dreaming under four feet of snow – a background of flowering almond. I love to plan out summer days like this, in the midst of a storm. It makes me feel as if I were winning a victory over something ever so much bigger than myself, just because I have a brain and the storm is nothing but blind, white force – terrible, but blind. I have the same feeling when I sit here cosily by my own dear fire, and hear it raging all around me, and laugh at it. And that is just because over a hundred years ago great-great-grandfather Murray built this house and built it well. I wonder if, a hundred years from now, anybody will win a victory over anything because of something I left or did. It is an inspiring thought.
"I drew that line of italics before I thought. Mr. Carpenter says I use far too many italics. He says it is an Early Victorian obsession, and I must strive to cast it off. I concluded I would when I looked in the dictionary, for it is evidently not a nice thing to be obsessed, though it doesn't seem quite so bad as to be possessed. There I go again: but I think the italics are all right this time.
"I read the dictionary for a whole hour – till Aunt Elizabeth got suspicious and suggested that it would be much better for me to be knitting my ribbed stockings. She couldn't see exactly why it was wrong for me to be poring over the dictionary but she felt sure it must be because she never wants to do it. I love reading the dictionary. (Yes, those italics are necessary, Mr. Carpenter. An ordinary 'love' wouldn't express my feeling at all!) Words are such fascinating things. (I caught myself at the first syllable that time!) The very sound of some of them – 'haunted' – 'mystic' – for example, gives me the flash. (Oh, dear! But I have to italicize the flash. It isn't ordinary – it's the most extraordinary and wonderful thing in my whole life. When it comes I feel as if a door had swung open in a wall before me and given me a glimpse of – yes, of heaven. More italics! Oh, I see why Mr. Carpenter scolds! I must break myself of the habit.)
"Big words are never beautiful – 'incriminating' – 'obstreperous' – 'international' – 'unconstitutional.' They make me think of those horrible big dahlias and chrysanthemums Cousin Jimmy took me to see at the exhibition in Charlottetown last fall. We couldn't see anything lovely in them, though some people thought them wonderful. Cousin Jimmy's little yellow 'mums, like pale, fairy-like stars shining against the fir copse in the north-west corner of the garden, were ten times more beautiful. But I am wandering from my subject – also a bad habit of mine, according to Mr. Carpenter. He says I must (the italics are his this time!) learn to concentrate – another big word and a very ugly one.
"But I had a good time over that dictionary – much better than I had over the ribbed stockings. I wish I could have a pair – just one pair – of silk stockings. Ilse has three. Her father gives her everything she wants, now that he has learned to love her. But Aunt Elizabeth says silk stockings are immoral. I wonder why – any more than silk dresses.
"Speaking of silk dresses, Aunt Janey Milburn, at Derry Pond – she isn't any relation really, but everybody calls her that – has made a vow that she will never wear a silk dress until the whole heathen world is converted to Christianity. That is very fine. I wish I could be as good as that, but I couldn't – I love silk too much. It is so rich and sheeny. I would like to dress in it all the time, and if I could afford to I would – though I suppose every time I thought of dear old Aunt Janey and the unconverted heathen I would feel conscience-stricken. However, it will be years, if ever, before I can afford to buy even one silk dress, and meanwhile I give some of my egg money every month to missions. (I have five hens of my own now, all descended from the grey pullet Perry gave me on my twelfth birthday.) If ever I can buy that one silk dress I know what it is going to be like. Not black or brown or navy blue – sensible, serviceable colors, such as New Moon Murrays always wear – oh, dear, no! It is to be of shot silk, blue in one light, silver in others, like a twilight sky, glimpsed through a frosted window pane – with a bit of lace-foam here and there, like those little feathers of snow clinging to my window-pane. Teddy says he will paint me in it and call it 'The Ice Maiden,' and Aunt Laura smiles and says, sweetly and condescendingly, in a way I hate, even in dear Aunt Laura,
"'What use would such a dress be to you, Emily?'
"It mightn't be of any use, but I would feel in it as if it were a part of me – that it grew on me and wasn't just bought and put on. I want one dress like that in my lifetime. And a silk petticoat underneath it – and silk stockings!
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in Clifton, Prince Edward Island, in 1874. Educated at Prince Edward College, Charlottetown, and Dalhousie University, she embarked on a career in teaching. From 1898 until 1911 she took care of her maternal grandmother in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, and during this time wrote many poems and stories for Canadian and American magazines.
Montgomery’s first novel, Anne of Green Gables, met with immediate critical and popular acclaim, and its success, both national and international, led to seven sequels. More autobiographical than the books about Anne is the trilogy of novels about another Island orphan, Emily Starr.
In 1911 Montgomery married the Rev. Ewan Macdonald, a Presbyterian clergyman, and they lived in Ontario, where he was the pastor of parishes in Leaskdale and, later, in Norval. They retired to Toronto in 1936.
Lucy Maud Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Emily is one of the very few persons, in books that I can say that I really know. She's like noone else.
And I agree with one of the other reviewers, this isn't a book for just little girls. I belive that everyone could read them, no matter which age they are in.
If you have read some of Montgomerys books this is surelly one you don't forget. Emily will allways be with me, just like Captain Jim in "Anne's house of dreams" and Walter in "Rilla of Ingleside". That is two books I also recommends,with all my heart.
The only bad thing is that I don't have all the books in Swedish. The first one is no longer availiable at the publisher.
That sucks. So I have to go to the library if I want to read it.
But I'm glad that I have to other ones. They are so precious to me. So I would like to end this review as one of the other reviewers - I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT
Do not expect this book to be another Anne of Green Gables! The Anne books are for children, the Emily books are not. There is much more to this book than anyone would expect -- wonderful, complex characters, and very subtle, sly underlying themes. This book is a slamming indictment of small-minded Victorian society. Emily herself is no pure, innocent character (read the chapter about the Old John House). She has a dark side that makes her fascinating. Anne was sweet, but Emily is bittersweet. People who are already familiar with L.M.Montgomery's unique humour will know what to expect, but to those who have not read her books before, trust me, there are passages that WILL make you laugh out loud. Basically what I'm trying to say is -- if your idea of literature is the Sweet Valley High books, then you won't enjoy this book. For those who will enjoy it...well, you know who you are :).
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed reading Emily Climbs as a visit back in time. When I was much younger I read Anne of Green Gables and its sequels and enjoyed them a lot. In revisiting the work of L.M. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Nanook
I read this book to see if things had improved any since EMILY OF NEW MOON. Instead, they have gotten worse. Read morePublished on May 17 2002
I've re-read this book so many times. It's like visiting an old friend.Wonderful to recognize.Loving every word. Read morePublished on May 12 2002 by Lizette
I am a big fan of L. M. Montgomery, and a few months ago, I was enchanted by Emily of New Moon. Of course, after reading that wonderful piece of literature, I HAD to read the... Read morePublished on March 11 2002 by Kate
I believe that Anne and Emily are Lucy Maud Montgomery's most precious and beautiful creations. The stories are perfectly woven, they will grab you and won't leave you even long... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2001
this was the best, most beautifully written, most real and imaginative book i have read! Montgomery is a genius and adds real life and also maximum imagination! Read morePublished on Dec 22 2000 by Carol Ritt
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