30 Books in 30 Days, Vol. 2
I think this is one of those books that I will love more and more as I inevitably revisit it again and again, but for now I’m holding strong at 4.5 stars, rounded down.
Everybody I know who has read this little hidden gem loves it, and I’d sort of had it in the back of my mind for a special occasion, but my TBR Jar said now, so I read it now. And it was cozy and funny and charming, and this lovely mix of old-fashioned but not stodgy. It gave me the same sort of feeling I get when reading Anne of Green Gables, which until now was my only L.M. Montgomery. (It’s weird that I’ve only read two of her books when she has written so very many.)
L.M. Montgomery was also way ahead of her time in terms of the plot of this one. She anticipated the 1990s-2000s rom-com perfectly (Queen Latifah in Last Holiday? Anyone?). That this book hasn’t been adapted into a movie yet is boggling my mind a little. Our main character is Valancy, living in late Victorian Canada with her widowed mother and elderly cousin. Valancy lives a stifled, controlled life full of fear. She never talks back to her rude relatives, and lives a very mundane existence, which has transitioned to Old Maid-hood. But a terminal heart condition diagnosis pushes Valancy into basically saying FUCK IT to her entire life, which she blows up in grand and beautiful fashion. She doesn’t hold her tongue around her family, and no longer cares what people think of her. She is determined to live before she dies, in other words.
I lived for the middle part of this novel, in which Valancy’s family are so scandalized by Valancy’s behavior they genuinely believe she is mentally ill. So many retorts and quips, and everything she does makes them go further into hysterics. I was less into the parts of the novel that were more serious, which is why I’m not giving this five stars. Her relationship with the mysterious Barney Snaith was sweet, but it didn’t get me the way that Valancy herself got me.
Anyhoodle, highly recommend this one. (Some period appropriate fatphobia in here, but the book was surprisingly inoffensive otherwise, for a story that is nearly 100 years old.)