The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
Published by Tundra Books on January 9, 2018 (Originally published 1911)
Series: The Story Girl #1
Genres: Children's, Classics, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 336 pages Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
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Sara Stanley is only fourteen, but she can weave tales that are impossible to resist. In the charming town of Carlisle, children and grown-ups alike flock from miles around to hear her spellbinding tales. And when Bev King and his younger brother Felix arrive for the summer, they, too, are captivated by the Story Girl. Whether she's leading them on exciting misadventure or narrating timeless stories--from the scary "Tale of the Family Ghost" to the fanciful "How Kissing Was Discovered" to the bittersweet "The Blue Chest of Rachel Ward"--the Story Girl has her audience hanging on every word.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Tundra Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I know I should know better, but I have such high expectations of authors. If I loved one of their books, I expect I should love all of them. This was very much my experience with L.M. Montgomery’s The Story Girl.
I adore Anne of Green Gables. I love Anne’s spirit. With a novel called The Story Girl – a nickname that would have fit Anne so well – I expected nothing less than the same bubbling genius in writing. And it wasn’t bad, it really wasn’t. But it wasn’t Anne Shirley.
In The Story Girl, you have a larger cast of regular characters who get together for the summer to play and do chores and simply be children. They have their own host of ordinary adventures, though there is nothing like The Haunted Woods or broken arms. They pick apples and Sara Stanley “the Story Girl” tells them the family’s history and town gossip in little stories. Reportedly, she also tells them ghost stories and fairytales, but her rendition of these are not spelled out like the town news. Each child in the little group is different and interesting – from Felicity who is beautiful and cruel, but a good cook so all is forgiven; to Peter, the hired boy who helps on the farm and also plays with the children from time to time. It’s told in the same thread as Anne where it’s one adventure to the next without a solid plot, but more like an array of little stories tied together by the place and characters.
I know I shouldn’t compare books like this, but I can’t help it! With the same author, same setting, and a character who lives and breathes in stories, it’s hard not to weigh one against the other.
My biggest problem with this book was the perspective. Early on, I made a note: “This feels like Anne of Green Gables told from Diana’s POV.” I still hold to that – the stories are there with beautiful potential, but Beverly’s voice makes them feel flat and unimportant. There are a few moments in the narration where the language becomes more lyrical – there’s a lovely passage near the middle about children and fairylands – but for the most part, this book felt entirely ordinary.
And ordinary is okay! It was very readable and likable enough, but that WOW! factor was missing for me. That’s all!
I think that anyone who enjoys classic literature will like this one. At the very least, it’s worth a read.
The Story Girl Goes to the Graveyard
As I said above, this book just didn’t jump out at me. There are a lot of books on my shelf and no space for “I guess it was okay and I like this author’s other books”. I’m actually headed to the library soon to do a donation dump (I haven’t done one yet this year – the books are all still in a pile!) so the timing on this one is good.
As for the edition, this is a basic paperback, but it’s a lovely little edition of a good size and comfortable weight – easy to read. I like the cover image as well. With classics, so many of them are tucked into the smaller paperback editions that you have to break the spine just to read the first page, but with this Tundra edition, that is not the case. If I was keeping it, this is the edition I would want!