Beside the Shore with L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeI’m continuing my wander through L. M. Montgomery for the L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, and it’s a good day to remark on a few more short stories and poetry.

I’ve moved over to another collection, Along the Shore, which collects various short stories with a seaside focus.  It can get a little repetitive if you read it straight through, but there are some gems in here.

“A Sandshore Wooing” is a delightful story, told in journal fashion.  Marguerite is at the seashore with her domineering aunt, a man-hater who believes her niece still needs “bringing up.”  Marguerite catches sight of–and catches the eye of–a young man on another part of the shore, who conveniently turns out to be the brother of an old friend.  They carry on a clandestine and unconventional courtship, mostly by way of spyglasses and sign-language.  It all works out rather neatly, but is very fun and sweet.

The story also reminds me of the first part of Rebecca, when the narrator carries on her romance with Maxim behind the back of her domineering employer.  There’s a similar feel of the young girl finding the courage to defy the harpy in her life.  As far as I know, however, Marguerite’s love interest doesn’t have a first wife!

“Fair Exchange and No Robbery” is another fun one.  Katherine bumps into her friend Edith’s fiance while on vacation at the shore, and finds herself in a dreadful mess when she likes him a bit too much.  Meanwhile, Edith meets Katherine’s fiance and…well, it’s not terribly shocking when it all works out.

I’ll defend Montgomery’s conveniently happy endings by noting that they don’t all end so pleasantly.  Just drawing examples from this volume, “The Waking of Helen” and “Mackereling Out in the Gulf” both center around unrequited love, and end tragically.

But anyway, I like Montgomery’s happy endings.  Some dreadful quote somewhere says that a short story should begin with a question and end with a bigger question (which results in stories that make me tear my hair out, figuratively speaking).  I like better Neil Gaiman’s description of short stories as adventures you can have and still be home in time for dinner.  Most of the time Montgomery’s short stories pose a puzzle or a problem for the main character, and resolve it by the end, which I find much more satisfactory than being left with a bigger question.

Perhaps another poem to wind up this post?  And since I’m reading her seaside short stories, here’s a sea-focused poem too, with lovely magical images.

The Voyagers

We shall launch our shallop on waters blue from some dim primrose shore,
We shall sail with the magic of dusk behind and enchanted coasts before,
Over oceans that stretch to the sunset land where lost Atlantis lies,
And our pilot shall be the vesper star that shines in the amber skies.

The sirens will call to us again, all sweet and demon-fair,
And a pale mermaiden will beckon us, with mist on her night-black hair;
We shall see the flash of her ivory arms, her mocking and luring face,
And her guiling laughter will echo through the great, wind-winnowed space.

But we shall not linger for woven spell, or sea-nymph’s sorceries,
It is ours to seek for the fount of youth, and the gold of Hesperides,
Till the harp of the waves in its rhythmic beat keeps time to our pulses’ swing,
And the orient welkin is smit to flame with auroral crimsoning.

And at last, on some white and wondrous dawn, we shall reach the fairy isle
Where our hope and our dream are waiting us, and the to-morrows smile;
With song on our lips and faith in our hearts we sail on our ancient quest,
And each man shall find, at the end of the voyage, the thing he loves the best.

About cherylmahoney

I'm a book review blogger and Fantasy writer. I have published three novels, The Wanderers; The Storyteller and Her Sisters; and The People the Fairies Forget. All can be found on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. In my day job, I'm the Marketing Specialist for Yolo Hospice. Find me on Twitter (@MarvelousTales) and GoodReads (MarvelousTales).
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Beside the Shore with L. M. Montgomery

  1. Christina says:

    I also like the Gaiman quote, although I can’t help wondering if he stole it from someone else. It sounds rather Tolkien-esque to me…

    Also, the Montgomery short stories sound lovely! I’ve read most of her novels but not much of her shorter work. Every once in a while, I enjoy a nice, romantic story with a predictable ending.

  2. I originally thought you may be Canadian-I used to watch Anne of Green Gables on tv-have you been to PEI-loved it. I never knew she wrote more than Anne of Green Gables-your job sounds fascinating-where in So. Cal are you-I am in OC.

    PS the kitties say thank you.

  3. dianem57 says:

    I love your Neil Gaiman quote! I never thought of short stories that way, but it IS true, since they wrap up so much more quickly than a full-blown novel.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s