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Emily of New Moon - Help me figure something out

(35 Posts)
WTF2017 Sun 26-Nov-17 12:06:53

I'm reading Emily of New Moon, the trilogy from L.M Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, for the first time at the grand old age of 37.
I've just started Emily Climbs - so NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!! smile and I'm really uncomfortable with this one thing: what is the deal with Dean Priest? Why is this man in his 30s interested in this girl child? Bearing in mind he has known her since she was, what, 9 years old and immediately latched onto her as a kindred spirit of sorts and is basically obsessing over her, making weird comments about her being his possession etc. Emily at 14 is clearly feeling uncomfortable at times and making a point os saying she is no one's possession but how is no-one worried about the adult man basically grooming her in front of everyone's eyes?

I am curious as to how this relationship looked to anyone who read the story as a child, I am hoping it gets addressed at a later time but argh, my toes are curling in horror every time he appears in the story. Am I supposed to think he is nice? I appreciate Emily having a mentor in Mr Carpenter, but Dean Priest is basically a paedophile. Or am I wrong? Thoughts please so I can stop going over it endlessly in my mind confused

MaryLennoxsScowl Sun 26-Nov-17 17:05:27

You're not wrong, he's awful! However, don't think anyone at the time realised that, it's very clear to modern eyes though! I can't say too much until you read the rest but it gets worse. I actually can't read them now because of it.

MaryLennoxsScowl Sun 26-Nov-17 17:05:57

Oh, but I didn't notice as a younger reader at all.

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 17:07:53

I didn't get it at all. I thought he was a bit weird, but I didn't look beyond the surface.

AnneLovesGilbert Sun 26-Nov-17 17:08:41

You’re right. And I never liked him. But partly because he wasn’t Teddy! God I love those books. Enjoy! And have faith in Emily’s judgement wink

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 17:13:56

Love the usernames on this thread.

WTF2017 Sun 26-Nov-17 17:28:40

Emily's a sharp one. I think I like her better than Anne because she's not all fluffy rainbows; Gilbert is the man though. I do like Teddy and Perry, but at this point Teddy's mother is freaking me out!

Glad it's not just me thinking 'what the heck Dean you perv'

RosemaryHoight Sun 26-Nov-17 17:31:42

I haven't read the Emily books for yonks.

Also love the user names on this thread.

HumphreyCobblers Sun 26-Nov-17 17:33:50

yes the Dean thing is grim. But the author didn't see it like that at all, it was presented as a perfectly valid situation for Emily to participate in.

MortalEnemy Sun 26-Nov-17 17:37:25

I loved that trilogy as a child, far more than the Anne of Green Gables books, but rereading it as an adult, Emily is a snobbish, vain, touchy pain in the ass, Teddy has weird Mother Issues and is way less nice than Gilbert Blythe, and yes, absolutely, Dean Priest is a total perv with an eye for very young flesh -- but the narrator and lots of other characters are also sexualising Emily from a freakishly young age. Even just after her father dies (I can't remember how old she is, but not more than 10 or 11?), her relatives keep banging on about her come hither eyes, her 'slow smile' and her ankles.hmm And Great-Aunt Nancy when she goes to visit Priest Pond. And yes, there's some hideous scene when Emily is about 14 and Dean Priest is walking in a garden with her and perving inwardly about her kissable lips and the pure virginal line of her cheek or something. Eeek.

Mind you, LMM has some pretty odd dynamics going on in lots of her novels. Jane of Lantern Hill has a twelve year old falling in love with a random journalist's photo in a newspaper, cutting it out and hiding it in her underwear drawer until her tyrannical grandmother burns it -- and then discovers that not only is her dead father not dead, but he turns out to be that journalist from the photo, and they set up house together with Jane bustling about doing all the cooking and cleaning and generally a mini-wife. grin

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 17:46:03

The Emily books are interesting. If you think about it, Anne's sunniness isn't at all realistic. She should have some sort of attachment disorder and the cruelty she suffered was terrible.

Emily's grief at the loss of her father is well handled and the characters seem more real.

I love Anne, but actually my favourite book isn't when she's a child at all. It's Anne of the Island. Who wouldn't want to live at Party's Place?!

AnneLovesGilbert Sun 26-Nov-17 17:49:00

I found Emily much easier to like than Isle. What a selfish madam at times!

Teddy definitely has Mum issues but it’s not really his fault. And he gets there in the end.

I’ve never read the jane books but that all sounds very dysfunctional!

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 17:51:52

I picked up Jane in a charity shop a few months ago. It is all a bit strange.

I think Teddy, Emily and Ilse all have proper flaws. The best of the lot is Perry.

MortalEnemy Sun 26-Nov-17 18:02:06

Oh, Jane of Lantern Hill is absolutely lovely -- total wish-fulfilment. Unhappy, unappreciated child with a social butterfly mother and a father she thinks is dead, and dominated by a tyrannical grandmother discovers her real self by rediscovering her father and her real 'home' on PEI and eventually reconciles her parents who turn out to be really still in love but don't know it. (But yes, Jane has a giant crush on her father, too and keeps bustling about in a pinny apologising for the lumps in his porridge.) grin

LMM much preferred spiky Emily to nice Anne -- she only kept writing the Anne books because her publishers wanted more, and she says somewhere she's sick of being 'dragged at the cartwheels of the detestable Anne'. Agreed Anne is far too immediately sane, sweet and functional to have had such an utterly brutal first ten years.

I always find Ilse's mother's backstory rather horrible -- the novel seems to be entirely celebrating the fact that she turned out not to have abandoned her husband and baby and run off on a ship with an old flame as completely fabulous, but no one seems to give a second thought to the fact that she fell down an open well in a field and possibly died a horrific, lingering death, with her husband, rather than sending out a search party, leaping to the conclusion that's she'd run off! sad

qumquat Sun 26-Nov-17 18:12:42

I highly recommend The Blue Castle also by LMM. I saw it recommended on here and it is fab. I never got along with the Emily books, my main memory is that she was obsessed with having a 'bang' and I couldn't work out for the life of me what that was (I realise now it was a fringe). Anne of the Island is my fave too!

HumphreyCobblers Sun 26-Nov-17 18:40:26

but no one seems to give a second thought to the fact that she fell down an open well in a field and possibly died a horrific, lingering death, with her husband, rather than sending out a search party, leaping to the conclusion that's she'd run off!

YY to this, it has always appalled me. And the fact that the doctor can now love Ilse and treat her decently all because her mother didn't run off with someone else! What a complete arse, to take it out on his innocent daughter.

Having said all that, I love the first two books, most of the Anne books, and thanks to reading about it on here, The Blue Castle.

WTF2017 Sun 26-Nov-17 19:28:06

Yes to Ilse's father being terrible. The way he treats her, both before and after he finds out what happened to her mum, is just awful.

I don't find Emily being vain and selfish and harsh at times, it fits well with being a teenager. It seems to me that Anne's only fault growing up is day-dreaming and being occasionally impulsive and way too stubborn, but Emily is more layered.

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 19:41:03

I had never thought that Ilse's mother might have had a lingering death. It's terrible.

Dr Burnley is an awful, awful man.

MortalEnemy Sun 26-Nov-17 19:57:03

I quite like Emily being deeply flawed, I think it's more than the narrative voice seems to go along with her being a second-sighted, purple-eyed, literary genius knockout, as though she's not actually also a quite annoying person. Like, I don't know, the way the novel asks the reader to get angry at the unimaginative housekeeper who works for Emily and her father at the start of Emily of New Moon because she tells Emily abruptly that her father is dying. When in fact, while she could have been more sensitive, in fact the irresponsible person is Emily's father, who is still presented as having been right to conceal his own fast-approaching death from a ten year old he is leaving alone in the world and penniless! Only the fact that the housekeeper blurts out the truth means that Emily has the slightest warning of her beloved father's death, because he dies suddenly, when he's alone with Emily, only a few days later...

It's pretty dark stuff, like Ilse's mother's story, and the episode which freaked me out as a child, where Emily gets locked into the isolated church with the madman with the blood-red hand and psychically summons Teddy. Or the other second sight one where Emily psychically finds the missing boy when he's almost dead in the emoty house. The only bit as dark as that in the Anne books (other than Anne's own pre-Green Gables past) is Persis-married-to-the-intellectually-disabled man who turns out, years later, not to be her husband at all, but his identical cousin.

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 20:04:15

Lesley. Persis is her daughter, because in the Anne books no child can have a name that doesn't belong to a --preferably dead--relative or Diana. Sorry to nitpick. The name thing in Anne really bugs me.

Emily's father is silly. Ever since I read it, I've been thinking Jane is actually a companion to Emily. Jane is what would have happened if Juliet had left Douglas with Emily and gone back to the Murrays.

MortalEnemy Sun 26-Nov-17 20:15:57

Lesley! Sorry!

Oh, good point about Jane being Emily in other circumstances, only New Moon is all charming and quirky and candle-lit compared to Jane's Granny's frigid Toronto mansion.

(Robin is another parent who doesn't appear to be blamed, or not much, by LMM, but even giving her all possible benefit of the doubt as a weak woman dominated by her nasty mother, it's hard not to want to kick someone who stands by and allows her mother to bully her vulnerable only child, while acceding to Granny's demands that she not show her daughter any affection or ever spend time with her...?

(I also always have Dark Intimations too about whether the Titus sisters' adoption of poor pushed-around Jody will work out, though one hopes they're going to treat her as an actual daughter, rather than as hired hand, which is what the boy orphan Anne is supposed to be is being adopted for. I suppose the trade-off is that he'd eventually inherit Green Gables, after he'd served his time working on the farm...?)

Callmecordelia Sun 26-Nov-17 20:43:39

Aren't Davy and Dora relatives? They'd have got Green Gables eventually over the adoptee. I think Davy gets it anyway as Anne is well set up at Ingleside.

HumphreyCobblers Sun 26-Nov-17 22:09:32

I always felt sorry for Dora. Dismissed at every turn as good and boring. She doesn't get any good lines.

Callmecordelia Mon 27-Nov-17 06:00:53

Those twins do scream "Plot device!" don't they? Davy's antics are the only thing that make Anne of Avonlea readable, otherwise it would be all detestable Paul and Miss Lavender.

MaryLennoxsScowl Mon 27-Nov-17 19:22:13

I hate Paul and Miss Lavender! I'd forgotten how much until now. I love Island too, particularly the bit where Anne realises that the romantic hero is not all he's cracked up to be!

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