Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pat of Silver Bush

Pat of Silver Bush
by L.M. Montgomery

Publisher's Blurb:
Patricia Gardiner loved Silver Bush more than anything else in the world. She was born and raised in the beautiful old-fashioned house on Prince Edward Island, "where things always seemed the same" and good things never changed. But things do change at Silver Bush--from her first day at school to the arrival of her new own first romance. Through it all, Pat shares her experiences with her beloved friends and discovers the one thing that truly never changes: the beauty and peace she will always find at Silver Bush--the house that remembers her whole life.

My Reaction:
It's been years since my last re-read of Pat of Silver Bush.  (I'm not sure when that was, exactly...)  I clearly remembered certain episodes and aspects of the book, but others had grown dim.  As for the book as a whole... I think I sympathize less with Pat now than I did as a teenager.  Her obsession with Silver Bush and the intensity of her hatred of all change-- always a bit strange-- seemed even stranger on this read-through.  The book still holds a place in my heart-- particularly Jingle/Hilary and McGinty and Judy-- but it's not quite the same...

I'd still recommend it, but only after the Anne and Emily series.   If you love those, Pat is worth reading-- but if not, I doubt Pat will be to your liking, either.

Specific Reactions (with LOTS of SPOILERS):
--  This was published in 1933.

--  "'The girls in school are nice but I don't love any of them.  I don't want to love any one or anything but my own family and Silver Bush.'"  To say that Pat is insular doesn't put it strongly enough.  That level of desire for isolation feels strange in a child, imho.  I understand shyness-- but such a young person not wanting to "love any one or anything" but your own family and family home... It's just weird!  I can understand older characters being sad about the passage of time and some of the less pleasant changes that time brings-- but it feels wrong for a child to be afraid of "happy" changes, like the marriage of an aunt or the impending arrival of a baby. 

--  Pat and Jingle "build a bridge of stones" over Jordan (a brook) for ease of crossing.  It can't have taken them long, because they've just had lunch (if I remember correctly) and afterward still have time for "an afternoon of prowling and rambling"-- and yet it's still standing ten years later!  (Unless they rebuilt it, at some point...)  Anyway, I've always wondered how one goes about building a bridge of that sort-- and what the bridge would have looked like.  Admittedly, I don't know much about engineering, but it seems tricky.  Two kids building a sturdy little footbridge is amazing.

--  Though his early obsession with houses is perhaps a bit too precocious, Jingle/Hilary is one of Montgomery's best, most loveable heroes (not that that's saying much).  ...Which makes it all the more frustrating that Pat suffers the typical, stubborn blindness where he's concerned. 

--  "'Uncle Lawrence doesn't mind McGinty but he laughs at him and McGinty can't bear to be laughed at.'  'Dog's don't,' said Pat knowingly, out of her extensive acquaintance of three dogs."  ...Well, I've never noticed dogs not liking to be laughed at, in general... Maybe if you laugh particularly rudely or cruelly, the smarter dogs might notice, but just a friendly laugh at their antics?  They're more likely to get excited and happy than to seem hurt.  (And I've known more than three dogs, so I'm an expert.)

--  I don't care for Sid (including his name).

--  "Judy began to talk of getting ready to hook a big crumb-cloth for the dining room, a bigger one than Aunt Judith's of which she was so proud."  Sounds like a crumb-cloth is just a rug that goes under the table.  I wish we had pictures of some of the things mentioned in these old books... Judy's rugs, for instance...

--  The ethereal quality of Pat's nearly-always-absent Mother has been discussed-- but it's still striking.  Pat is the only of Montgomery's "big 3" heroines to not be an orphan.  Both parents are living-- and they are present in the book-- but I so much prefer Judy to Pat's mother that it comes as a shock when some Great Tragedy sends Pat running home from school:  "Oh, to get home to mother... mother now, not Judy.  Judy did for little griefs but for this, only mother..."  ...It's just that Judy feels more like Pat's mother than her mother does!

-- On that topic... I know some people hate Judy's bizarre dialect, but I actually love it.  It may not be remotely realistic, but I can hear her in my head when I read-- I'm even coming to be comfortable with the the "oh, oh"-- and... she's cozy.

--  When Pat comes home from a visit and discovers that her father has shaved off his moustache, he has to promise to let it grow back before she'll stop crying.  Eventually she gets used to his new look and doesn't hold him to the promise, but that's still simply ridiculous.  What a terribly spoiled child!

--  A cat falls down the well.  He survives and is rescued-- but Judy says they'll have to drag water from Jordan (the nearby stream) until they can have the well cleaned.  Which leads me to wonder a couple of things.  First, how does one clean a well?  Second, would brook water really be safer than water from a well that a cat merely fell into?  It's not like the cat was dead in the well.... Just wondering.

--  At one point, Pat's mother waits for word from Mr. Gardiner regarding his decision to either move the family out west or stay where they are.  She clearly wants very much to stay on P.E.I., but intends to follow her husband's decision-- whatever it might be-- without demur.  The situation reminded me of Mrs. Ingalls and the girls following Pa out further and further onto the unpopulated prairies.  Ma would rather have stayed closer to home and family, I'm sure, but she went wherever Pa wanted, because he was the Head of the Family.  Talk about different times!  I'm fairly traditional, but I'm glad there's more a of a partnership, these days.  I want to have some say in where I live.  Shockingly modern.  ;o)

--  "Jingle was always on the lookout for windows.  They had a peculiar fascination for him.  He averred that the windows of a house made or marred it."   Well, windows are the eyes of a house-- and the eyes are the windows to the soul-- so obviously they're vital to the expression and attitude of a building.

--  "Mr. Gordon Keys at the bridge keeps his wife in order by crocheting lace whenever she won't do as he says.  She hates to see him do it and so she gives in."  ...Have to agree with the wife on that one...  Sorry, male crocheters of lace!

-- "'I'm clane missing me guess if he don't be in Parliamint be the time he's a bit bald.  Ye're not nading inny great intilligence for that.'"  So true. 

--  Judy and Pat discuss what Pat remembers of "the Great War"-- and at the end of the conversation, Judy says "it's all over now, and I'm hoping the world will have more sinse than iver to get in a mess like the same agin, more be token that the women can be voting"--  because of course LMM didn't know in 1933 that WWII was less than a decade away...  The conversation made me wonder what age Pat and Hilary would be at the beginning and end of WWII.  Pat was 5 when the armistice was signed (1918), so that would make her about 26 in 1939 and 32 in 1945.  Hilary is two years older than Pat, so he'd be 28 and 34...

--  "'They don't call them billets-doux now, Judy,' she said, gravely.  'They call them mash notes.'  'They would that.  The uglier the better nowadays.'"  Amen to that.  Only, can you imagine what poor Judy (or my own great-grandmother) would've thought of "sexting" and the like?  ...Probably best not to imagine!

--  By the time I was the age Pat is when Bets dies (not sure of the exact number), I don't think I had a "best friend" anymore.  Certainly not a friend as close as that.  It would've shaken and pained me to lose any of my high school friends, but I wouldn't have been so utterly devastated, because we simply weren't that close...  My best-friendships with other girls were mostly an elementary-school thing, fading during the middle-school years.  Is that a sign of changing times or more just a difference in personality and circumstance?

--  "'As for me poor Lester, they tell me he's rale down-hearted now that his temper fit do be over.  I'm afraid it's ye that do be the deluthering cratur, Patsy.  He did be thinking ye were rale fond av him.'"  I can usually understand Judy perfectly, but "deluthering" has me stumped!

--  There's a reference to "Victorian monstrosities with towers and cupolas"-- and we learn that young Pat hates bay windows.  Hmph.  I like bay windows-- and I would be so excited to live in a Victorian monstrosity with a tower and cupola! 

-- "Children ran about the grounds like small roses."  ...Okay...  Odd turn of phrase!

--  Some of the things those elderly "uncles" and "cousins" (not really relatives) say to Pat!  It's bad enough when her elderly great-great aunts criticize her looks to her face, when she's a child-- but Pat's eighteen by the end of the book, and these old men are still vocally appraising her beauty or lack thereof-- or saying they'll "take her if she liked".  Yuck.  Talk of dirty old men!

-- I love the beautiful descriptions of the landscape and home life.  Though there are charming descriptions of all seasons in this book, Pat and "her" books always feel like autumn to me-- and seeing as autumn is my very, very favorite, that's a compliment.  ;o) 

--  I don't think I'll be reading Mistress Pat soon.  I remember that it's much darker than Pat of Silver Bush-- and that's dark enough!