Coming back to The Story Girl after so many years of reading other books was like delving back into a delightful world chock-full of childhood memories – memories that were mine, that I’d shared with Bev and Felix and Felicity and the Story Girl and all of the others. My grandmother had a copy of the book (actually – and this is kind of weird – it was the book chopped into four smaller books, but together, they formed the whole story) and I must’ve read it five or six times over the course of my childhood. Not all six times at once, mind you, like I sometimes do with books I love now, but from when I was eight or so until I was thirteen or fourteen. And then I read it again just a few days ago and alllll those nostalgic feelings came to me.
Let me say this: The Story Girl is NOTHING like the Road to Avonlea TV show. Especially in the casting of the Story Girl. I’ve seen a few episodes of the show + a TV movie, and believe me, the book is so much better (as usual). I know the show has tons of fans, but I’m not one of them (at least for right now – who knows, in a few months time I might have to eat these words). But I’m not here to talk about the differences between The Story Girl and RtA because I’m just not qualified to do so.
Returning to the nicer topics of nostalgia and childhood memories…
I realized, as I read, that so many of the incidents in The Story Girl reminded me of stuff that my siblings and I did when we lived on a farm for three years. Lucy Maud Montgomery understands children, people. She TOTALLY does. Maybe she doesn’t always show it in every book, but in The Story Girl, I was blown away again and again by how true and accurate her perceptions of what it’s like to be a child are like. To be scared of things that adults would find ridiculous, but are ohhhh so terrifying when you’re smaller. To have an uncle that never takes you seriously, no matter what (I know adults like Uncle Roger and they still infuriate me – I guess I’m not as grown up as I thought). And, most importantly, to always be able to appreciate a good story.
And aren’t the ones the Story Girl tells great? When I was little, they were definitely my favorite part of the book, and while I skipped some of them this time around, there were still enough that captured my fancy to make me feel that weren’t intruding on the rest of the book. ‘How Kissing Was Discovered’ is lovely and weird all at the same time (I don’t think kissing was ‘discovered’, though), as is the story of the Milky Way, and the Veil of the Proud Princess, but at least they’re never dull. I think my favorite is how that girl (argh, I forget her name) won her husband – you know, the one the Story Girl tells Mr. Campbell to get five dollars for the library fund.
As I read, it was like I’d soaked up every word by osmosis when I was younger and I still remembered every story and every character and almost every word, so it was almost like reading something I’d already memorized. (Except for one important thing near the end which I’ll touch on in a bit.) I love each and every character, even the somewhat annoying ones like Felicity, because I see bits and pieces of each of them in my siblings and I (it helps to have seven siblings – there are so many character traits to go around). There’s more of Felicity in me than I would like, but there’s also some of the Story Girl (just a bit, mind you). My two oldest brothers are a LOT like Felix and Dan and Bev all mixed up. Sad to say, there’s no-one like Cecily among us, but she’s sort of like Beth from Little Women (though not as good), so that would be pretty much impossible anyway. And there’s not anyone like Sara Ray either, thank goodness. Or Peter, but he’s awesome anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
The important plot point I forgot was Peter’s near-death, by the way. And THEN I forgot whether he lived or died (I was reasonably sure he didn’t die, but this was coming from the authoress who killed WALTER, so I just didn’t know), but he lived. What a relief, since so many of my favorite characters die. If they’re my favorite character, their chances of dying go up almost ninety percent. (I have this thing about characters who ‘never cry’ and then they do cry at something in the end – it usually makes me cry. So there was some minor tearing up in the Peter-has-measles chapter.)
I can’t describe the warm, golden, satisfying feeling I get whenever I read The Story Girl. It’s not LMM’s best, but it holds so much between its pages that I can’t help but love it. Reading all the little chapters, each with its own story or problem, was like revisiting memories from my own childhood. Remember the time Dan ate those poison berries? (I never figured out if they were really poison or not.) Or when we all wrote in our dream books? Or when we thought the Judgement Day was at two o’clock the following Sunday? Remember…remember…remember…
Oh, and then I discovered there was a sequel! SQUEEEEE. There’s nothing better than discovering that one of your favorite books has a sequel, right? It’s called The Golden Road and it’s darling. Not quiiiite as good as The Story Girl, but I gave it four stars on Goodreads because it was splendid. And, you know, I’m glad I discovered it now, instead of reading it as a child because I believe I appreciated it more. It’s all about growing up and I’m in that rather difficult, in-between stage right now where I’m definitely not a child any more, but I’m not quite an adult either, so it was poignant. (Like Inside Out, but in a more…literary way.) And I’m so glad LMM didn’t go the Little Women route and have Cecily die in the book itself – there’s only some foreshadowing. But a full discussion of The Golden Road will have to wait for a later date, because this post is huge already.
(Just let me say that Peter TOTALLY became a minister when he grew up and he and Felicity got married.)