Monday, June 15, 2009

A Tangled Web, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

It seriously bugs me that the large majority of Lucy Maud Montgomery's works are now out-of-print. One of the most frustrating things, for me, is to want to purchase an LMM book as a gift for someone and to walk into bookstores where the only book that the sales person knows about is Anne of Green Gables. How annoying this this?

It would be as if the majority of the reading population assumed that the only thing Dickens ever wrote that was worth reading was A Christmas Carol. (For all you Dickens fans out there - would that not get under your skin?)

Well, yes she did write more than Anne (and Emily). Furthermore, I'm blessed and thankful to have found a copy of Jane of Latern Hill, so that I now OWN everything Montgomery ever wrote. (That is, I own everythign in print. Apparently I have to wait until October 2009 to complete the collection! Woot!)

This particular week I felt like delving back into something familiar and comfortable and so I picked up A Tangled Web which, I am pleased to say, has apparently be re-released.

Although Montgomery's books all provide a similar feel as being written in the same style and with great wit, this book stands out as one that Montgomery wrote primarily for adults. (Actually, I'd be surprised if this one was supposed to be handed over to minors at all!) It's not shocking to a modern day audience, but it no doubt would have caused a stir at its publication in 1931. It used the "d" word one time and the closing paragraph alludes to nude art. It's really subtle and I confess I didn't really get it at first read, given the way she worded it. But it's there, earmarking this book for older readers.

A Tangled Web is a little darker than most of her books if you put it under certain lights. Mismatched couples, love unrequited, bitter rivalries, etc. It follows the story of two families on the Island - the Darks and the Penhallows. The Darks and Penhallows have been marrying each other for the prior sixty years when we meet up with them and their histories and personalities are so blended together that it really is a mess! Misunderstandings and stubbornness get in the way of happiness more often that not but upon the death of Aunt Becky relationships slowly work themselves out - mostly because everyone is very conscious of desiring to become the next owner of an old family heirloom which Aunt Becky purposed to leave to one of them with conditions attached.

This book has spoilers so I'm going to avoid them. Do not under any circumstances look at the Wikipedia page about this book. Look at Wikipedia and there's really no need to read this book. Personally, I think it would be a pity if you failed to read the book itself.

I love how Montgomery tells stories and I think she did a great job here tangling up a variety of life situations and then slowly, piece by piece, makes sense of it all. Her humor runs rampant through the book. I had a few laugh out loud moments, as usual. (Inside joke: There is even an incident of a pig and a car colliding which I know my sister-in-law would appreciate very much. Montgomery lets it be known that the pig suffered some trauma also! Just sayin'.) On the whole, A Tangled Web is very Montgomery-ish and you have to know that everything comes out all right in the end.

It IS different from Anne, different from Emily and different from her other characters but that is what makes it good.

Despite the fact that I disapprove of the new cover art, I hope you'll give this book a shot!


jama said...

I admit I've only read Anne and Emily. You've really whetted my appetite for this one.

Ronnica said...

I don't think that's a fair comparison...LMM is a good author, but Dickens is one for the ages! (you know I love my Dickens...)

Carrie said...

I wasn't comparing authors so much as I was comparing author lovers.

And you know my preference. ;D

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I haven't read this one in years and years. I need to dig it out and re-read it. So many books. . . :-)

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