Growing up as a young, Canadian girl, Anne of Green Gables was almost considered required reading, and in some instances, was required reading in schools; Lucy Maud Montgomery considered a national treasure. Although I read the Anne series, I never was drawn to read them again and I preferred the mini-series over the books; a very very rare occurrence for me as most movies from books are horrible in my view. That is not the case with Jane of Lantern Hill. This book has been my favourite book since I was a small child. I honestly can't count how many times over the years I've read it. Parts of it stick with me, which has never happened with any other book, any other character, any other author. There's a depth of character and story here that isn't seen in L.M. Montgomery's other works and it's a beautiful novel.
Jane of Lantern Hill is about Jane Victoria, a young girl, living in Toronto with her beautiful but sad mother, disapproving grandmother and aunt.
Gay Street, so Jane always thought, did not live up to its name. It was, she felt certain, the most melancholy street in Toronto...though, to be sure, she had not seen a great many of the Toronto streets in her circumscribed comings and goings of eleven years.
Gay Street should be a gay street, thought Jane, with gay, friendly houses, set amid flowers, that cried out "How do you do?" to you as you passed them, with trees that waved hands at you and windows that winked at you in the twilights. Instead of that, Gay Street was dark and dingy, lined with forbidding, old-fashioned brick houses, grimy with age, whose tall, shuttered, blinded windows could never have thought of winking at anybody.So starts the book. Jane is lonely and doesn't fit in with her family and is constantly coming under fire from her grandmother for even imaginary infractions. Her only friend is a little orphan servant girl who lives next door, who Jane's grandmother despises. Jane desperately wants to do something, anything to make her life less dreary. One of the things she does is to imagine these trips to the moon, where with the help of imaginary little creatures, she polishes it to make it as shiny as possible. This is one of the parts that sticks with me. Every time I see the moon, I think of Jane, polishing the moon.
Jane was never lonely in bed now except on nights when there was no moon. The dearest sight Jane knew was the thin crescent in the western sky that told her her friend was back. She was supported through many a dreary day by the hope of going on a moon spree at night.A nasty, mean schoolmate of Jane's breaks the news to her that her father isn't dead, and in with a spark of defiance, she confronts her mother about it who admits that yes, her father is alive and living on Prince Edward Island. The next year, the family receives a letter from her father with a request that Jane come and visit him for the summer. After much angry discussion from her grandmother, aunt and other family, she is sent off to her father for the summer.
She arrives to PEI and is confronted with her Aunt Irene, her father's sister who, it becomes obvious, wasn't a big fan of her mother. Her father arrives the next day and Jane and her father begin to get to know each other and look for a place to live and make their home. Montgomery's prose brings the search for home to life:
Jane said nothing at first. She could only look. She had never been there before but it seemed as if she had known it all her life. The song the sea-wind was singing was music native to her ears. She had always wanted to “belong” somewhere and she belonged here. At last she had a feeling of home.Jane and her father begin to set up their house together, and Jane is in heaven. Finally she has something to do and she shines at what she does and blossoms. She's still just an average girl, but she's finally at home and at peace and accepted for being "just Jane". There's many escapades over the summer that always make me laugh and smile and feel all warm inside, too many to share here. There's even an escaped circus lion in the mix!
I love this book. The descriptions of life on the Island are so full of feeling that you feel like you can see the red sands, smell the sea air and taste the salt. And see a little girl named Jane find out what it means to be to feel like you have a home where you're loved unconditionally by everyone in it. I've bought this book 3 times because I keep wearing them out. It's the one book I recommend to anyone. Just don't watch the mini-series. It sucks.