L. M. Montgomery, edited by Rea Wilmshurst
Collection 1995, Stories originally published 1899 - 1910
Crossposted for Mainlining Christmas
Premise: A collection of holiday tales by L. M. Montgomery.
They can't all be winners. This volume occupies a weird space between light holiday collection and academic archive only of interest to scholars. There isn’t any scholarly commentary, but I can't imagine anyone reading this entire book who isn't either writing this review or looking for common themes in pieces from the time period for a research project.
Because oh, are there common themes.
The strongest pieces in the collection are the two excerpts from the Anne books: a chapter from Anne of Green Gables and one from Anne of Windy Poplars. Both of these have charm, whimsy and warmth in equal portion.
The introduction explains that the other stories were among many written by Montgomery in these years for various magazines - mostly what we would now call work-for-hire, where an author is asked to write to a specific theme and deadline. Unfortunately, there's a reason most of these magazines had been lost to time.
Thirteen of the fourteen stories can be described with only three plots:
People (usually well-off) learn the joy of the season by sharing what they have with others (Seven stories)
Poor people act kindly toward others and luck into gifts/wealth/good fortune for the holiday (Two)
Estranged family members (in one case, friends) make up, due to some kind of misunderstanding (Four)
The final one is about members of a family missing a relative who died in the year prior to Christmas.
Each story independently is decent enough, but all in a row they become a bit tedious in their interminable goodness and kindness. However, reading it has reminded me to go back and catch up on more of the Anne books, so while I can't recommend the volume for most readers, it wasn't a waste of time.
2 Stars - An Okay Book