Title: Jane of Lantern Hill
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Synopsis (Courtesy of IndieBound): “For as long as she could remember, Jane Stuart and her mother lived with her grandmother in a dreary mansion in Toronto. Jane always believed her father was dead–until she accidentally learned he was alive and well and living on Prince Edward Island. When Jane spends the summer at his cottage on Lantern Hill, doing all the wonderful things Grandmother deems unladylike, she dares to dream that there could be such a house back in Toronto…a house where she, Mother, and Father could live together without Grandmother directing their lives–a house that could be called home.”
Thoughts: Jane of Lantern Hill is what one comes to expect from a novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery – charming, gentle and most decidedly hopeful. Written for a younger audience, Ms. Montgomery’s Jane is spunky and delightful. While she faces and overcomes tyrannical adults, Jane teaches young audiences what it means to grow up, care for others and remaining true to one’s self.
Ms. Montgomery’s novels have familiar elements in them, and Jane of Lantern Hill stays true to form. She waxes poetic on nature and Prince Edward Island. The magic of a loving home is distinct, as are heroines who strike out on their own paths and succeed to charm all those around them who matter. In addition, Ms. Montgomery avoids patronizing the child audience she sets out to captivate while simultaneously creating a story that can be enjoyed by adults. In Ms. Montgomery’s world, children are just as good, if not better, than the adults in the story because they have a purity and innocence that most of the adults do not possess. This lends hope to the targeted audience while providing a gentle reminder to the adult readers. Neither message taints the overall charm of the story.
Given this disparity between adults and children in most of Ms. Montgomery’s novels, one cannot help but compare her stories to her own battle with depression. Does Grandmother represent the depression that clouds her life, while Jane represent her own struggles to break free? Is her message of hope that is a consistent theme in her novels one written as a reminder to herself to avoid succumbing to despair? One may never know, but this background knowledge does lend a new, insightful peek inside each of Ms. Montgomery’s characters.
Jane of Lantern Hill is simply a lovely story about a young lady who blossoms through love. In taking care of her loved ones, she is able to overcome the tyrannical figures in her life and find the happily ever after in which she never gave herself permission to believe. Fans of Ms. Montgomery’s works will find Jane just as reliable, just as fun and just as endearing as Anne. With characters like Jane, it is no wonder Ms. Montgomery remains one of childhood’s most beloved authors.