Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery

Aug 24, 2015

Finally, finally, I can check off the Emily trilogy from my to-read list. I read the first one probably fifteen years ago, then read it again a few years ago, and finally made the reading of the last two one of my goals for the year. And I'm so glad I did. This final installment was probably my favorite one in the trilogy.

At the beginning of this book, Emily has been left behind. Sure, she has Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Laura, and Cousin Jimmy, but all of her friends (Perry, Ilse, and, most notably, Teddy) have gone off on the grand adventures of adulthood. (Emily has something of a vague regret for not taking up Miss Royal on her offer to go to New York City.) But New Moon is just as dear as ever, and Emily loves the sweet comforts of home. Before Teddy leaves, he and Emily make a promise of sorts to each other. Whenever either of them sees the star, Vega of the Lyre, they will think of each other--"everywhere and as long as we live."

But after he goes, Teddy changes. He becomes preoccupied with his art and soon becomes quite well-known and esteemed. Emily, on the other hand, publishes a lot of stories and poems but can't seem to get any higher on her Alpine path. She becomes very discouraged and, after a nearly fatal accident, she loses interest in writing entirely. The years pass slowly, and it seems for a time that all her dreams are lost.

This book reminded me of the movie, It's a Wonderful Life. As you might remember, George Bailey wants nothing more than to get out of Bedford Falls. He wants to travel the world and go to college and become an architect. But after his father passes away quite suddenly, he chooses to stay in order to help the Bailey Building and Loan not fall into the greedy hands of Mr. Potter. In Emily's case, she stayed at New Moon much more willingly (she's a homebody at heart), but she still watches as all of her friends find success and happiness and she seems to stay stagnant and the same. In both scenarios, the friends come home for visits and find everything exactly as they left it. It's comforting to them, but it's aggravating to George and Emily who, in spite of choosing to stay, have such big dreams for their lives, none of which seem to be coming to fruition.

This book was quite the contrast to Emily Climbs, which, in spite of many funny and witty moments, was almost intolerably slow for me. The romantic tension in this one kept the pace up for me. Montgomery keeps the reader guessing the entire time: who is Emily going to end up with? Is she even going to get married? Is she really going to marry someone she doesn't love? Is Teddy really going to marry someone he doesn't love? 

It's a different kind of page turner than something action-packed or danger-filled. In fact, I suppose you could say that for most of the book, nothing much happens. Many years pass, and, as a reader, I felt a lot of frustration with Teddy and Emily and kept wondering, Is anything ever going to happen???? But it was that question that kept me turning the pages. I had to know if things would resolve between them. The promise of reconciliation was very tantalizing.

It's so funny because, really, I don't actually like Teddy Kent very much. I know he's sweet and dreamy and kind, but he never seemed to have much backbone, and this final installment did nothing to change my opinion. In fact, if he'd been less romantic and more practical, none of the misunderstandings would have happened (but then, I just said that the whole reason I liked this book was because of the romantic tension, so you can see, I'm conflicted).

However, when there was even a hint of a threat that Emily wasn't going to end up with Teddy, I was quite indignant. How could Montgomery set up their love story so perfectly in the previous two books and then not have anything come of it? She strings the reader along until the last possible second (we're talking, the-wedding-guests-are-arriving, the-minister-is-waiting, last possible second). In fact, it wasn't until the last four pages that I could finally relax, and I'll admit, I would have liked a few more pages of happiness before it all ended. I think all the previous pages of tension deserved a drawn-out happy ending.

Even though waiting to see what would happen between Emily and Teddy was the main thing that kept me reading, Emily's ambition to become an author was a close second. I loved one of her journal entries where she is reveling in life's beauty, and then her final line is, "How much difference in one's outlook three acceptances make!" (She's referring to having three of her manuscripts accepted for publication.) It's so true. On the days when someone compliments me or follows me on Instagram or comments on my blog, my disposition changes because I feel appreciated and valued. And it makes me realize that it wouldn't take much effort on my part to do that for someone else as well. 

Out of the three books, this is the only one that, upon finishing, I went back and reread some of my favorite parts. I guess that affirms what I said at the beginning: this is my favorite of the three.

3 comments:

  1. It has been so long since I read these, I barely remember them. I've always liked the Anne books much better. Good for you finishing your goal!

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    1. Yes, I'm with you, Anne is still my favorite, but I still really loved reading these. (I'm pretty much willing to read about any characters if L.M. Montgomery's stamp is on them.)

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  2. Almost everyone thinks Teddy is a sap, but Emily likes him, so I'm glad she gets her happy ever after. I do think it would have made for a spicier ending if Ilse had cut it even closer (I still remember her line about how she would have gone to Percy even if she got the news two minutes AFTER her vows instead of before).

    I have the Emily books, although I like the Anne ones better (especially early Anne). I'm also a huge fan of Blue Castle, which is a book I read when I'm in need of a pick-me-up.

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