June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
I am torn with the Emily series. I know most LM Montgomery fans consider these books to be her best, the closest she came to a more dark, realistic narrative that has a lot of her own life in it. I personally think that she wrote more gothic stories than this, and that those stories were better executed than the Emily books (the short story collection ‘Amoung the Shadows’ would be the best example of this.)
To be completely truthful though the main thing that turns me away from the Emily series is the two male love interest characters.
Gilbert Blythe is one of LM Montgomery’s strongest male characters because he is 1) believably male, not a dreamy, unrealistic image of what a young girl thinks a boy love interest should be and 2) is equal to Anne in his drive and spirit. Teddy Kent is barely a character. He’s more of a concept, a conceit. The attempts to explain his motivations, the characterizations of him, everything she puts together to form this character fall flat. He comes off as two dimensional, without his own drives and passions. He’s more of a worshiper of Emily than a character himself.
In contrast, Dean Priest blazes through this story with a fierceness that demands your attention. He is very obviously LM Montgomery’s attempt at a Mr Rochester, and the flawed, angry, intelligence in his character captures even when seeing him through Emily’s eyes. This is where LM Montgomery fails her audience – her need to moralize the actions and decisions of all her female lead characters drives Emily to be with Teddy, barely visible, and to push away the dark, challenging, father-figure of a lover in Dean Priest. The flaw of this makes these books almost unreadable for me.