Monday, August 8, 2016

At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales

The title: At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales
The author: L.M. Montgomery
Publication: McClelland & Stewart, 1994
Got it from: NB, 1995

On days when I just want a feel-good, happy ending story, I re-read one of L.M. Montgomery's books and everything feels right again. They are my comfort stories, and I have loved rediscovering them after first reading them about twenty years ago.  Of course there's nothing I love more than a good romance and these 18 stories have them aplenty.  What I especially love about them is that most of the characters aren't the "romantic" sorts that the characters themselves dream of.  Often they are middle aged and practical, but Montgomery somehow manages to bring out their romantic sides.

Stories I particularly love in this anthology: "Jessamine": a woman languishing in the city is visited by a farmer who restores her soul by taking her out to see his farm.  He rescues her from having to move west by his proposal.  "Miss Cordelia's Accomodation": an old maid takes a group of factory children to the country for a holiday, and meets a rather accommodating farmer.  "A Dinner of Herbs": a 33-year-old woman who faces having to share a room with a stupid teenaged relative makes a desperate proposal to a reclusive neighbour to avoid having to marry an unpalatable widower.  "The Dissipation of Miss Ponsonby" (my favourite): a 35-year-old woman who was separated from the man she loved 15 years earlier by her father is aided in making a daring escape to a dance when he returns from the west, helped by two younger neighbours who give her a makeover. 

Of course some of these stories were better than others, but every single one was enjoyable.  What can I say about Montgomery's works that I haven't already?  I'll let the editor describe it herself from the afterward: "I read them year in and year out, again and again.  I never tired of their apparent simplicity, finding them more complex than they seemed, their emotions true and believable.  They were part of my innermost being.  But there weren't enough of them."

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