Further Chronicles of Avonlea HTML version
It is no exaggeration to say that what Longfellow did for Acadia, Miss Montgomery has
done for Prince Edward Island. More than a million readers, young people as well as
their parents and uncles and aunts, possess in the picture-galleries of their memories
the exquisite landscapes of Avonlea, limned with as poetic a pencil as Longfellow
wielded when he told the ever-moving story of Grand Pre.
Only genius of the first water has the ability to conjure up such a character as Anne
Shirley, the heroine of Miss Montgomery's first novel, "Anne of Green Gables," and to
surround her with people so distinctive, so real, so true to psychology. Anne is as
lovable a child as lives in all fiction. Natasha in Count Tolstoi's great novel, "War and
Peace," dances into our ken, with something of the same buoyancy and naturalness;
but into what a commonplace young woman she develops! Anne, whether as the gay
little orphan in her conquest of the master and mistress of Green Gables, or as the
maturing and self-forgetful maiden of Avonlea, keeps up to concert-pitch in her charm
and her winsomeness. There is nothing in her to disappoint hope or imagination.
Part of the power of Miss Montgomery--and the largest part--is due to her skill in
compounding humor and pathos. The humor is honest and golden; it never wearies the
reader; the pathos is never sentimentalized, never degenerates into bathos, is never
morbid. This combination holds throughout all her works, longer or shorter, and is
particularly manifest in the present collection of fifteen short stories, which, together with
those in the first volume of the Chronicles of Avonlea, present a series of piquant and
fascinating pictures of life in Prince Edward Island.
The humor is shown not only in the presentation of quaint and unique characters, but
also in the words which fall from their mouths. Aunt Cynthia "always gave you the
impression of a full-rigged ship coming gallantly on before a favorable wind;" no further
description is needed--only one such personage could be found in Avonlea. You would
recognize her at sight. Ismay Meade's disposition is summed up when we are told that
she is "good at having presentiments--after things happen." What cleverer embodiment
of innate obstinacy than in Isabella Spencer--"a wisp of a woman who looked as if a
breath would sway her but was so set in her ways that a tornado would hardly have
caused her to swerve an inch from her chosen path;" or than in Mrs. Eben Andrews (in
"Sara's Way") who "looked like a woman whose opinions were always very decided and
warranted to wear!"
This gift of characterization in a few words is lavished also on material objects, as, for
instance; what more is needed to describe the forlornness of the home from which Anne
was rescued than the statement that even the trees around it "looked like orphans"?
The poetic touch, too, never fails in the right place and is never too frequently
introduced in her descriptions. They throw a glamor over that Northern land which