Emily of New Moon Read Along
Chapter 24: A Different Kind of Happiness
By Melanie J. Fishbane
For the first time since her father died, Emily of New Moon has a sense of freedom to be herself, she hasn’t really had living under Aunt Elizabeth’s roof. The “different kind of happiness” Emily experiences living at Wyther Grange with Great-Aunt Nancy (although definitely call her by that!) and Caroline Priest, is one where she is treated like an almost mini-adult. She finds this “very agreeable” (282).
In her letters to Father, Emily recounts the various differences there are living with the Priests versus the Murrays—right down to the way they do their breakfasts. She observes that, while she is afraid of sleeping in a bed on her own (and given how long she has been sleeping with Aunt Elizabeth, it is no wonder it would feel odd), she is also thrilled to stretch out, and not be chastised for squirming. Emily is also fond of getting up in the middle of the night to jot down a perfect line in her Jimmy book.
It isn’t just the breakfasts that are different at Wyther Grange. When she breaks Aunt Nancy’s prized Jakobite glass, Emily is sure that her great-aunt will behave much like Aunt Elizabeth would. Instead, Aunt Nancy calls it a ‘blessing,’ saying that she thinks that the rest of the family is just waiting for her to die so they can get their hands on it (289). Apparently, Priests “airlooms” are not as “valewable” as the Murrays (284; 287).
There is also freedom of information. As the Aunt Nancy and Caroline don’t monitor what they say around Emily, she learns that there are things more valuable than heirlooms, family stories—and DNA. When Aunt Nancy criticizes Aunt Elizabeth for what she did to Cousin Jimmy when they were kids, Emily defends her aunt and gives her great aunt “a look.” Aunt Nancy is surprised how much Emily resembles her brother, she pronounces: “Well, Saucebox, my brother Archibald will never be dead as long as you’re alive” (287). Emily might be a Starr, but she’s clearly has a Murray streak and it is beginning to show.
But, as L.M. Montgomery points out, nothing in life comes free. As Emily soon learns when she hears Caroline and Aunt Nancy talk about what really happened to Ilse’s mother (or at least what they think happened.)
MELANIE J. FISHBANE holds an M.F.A. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.A. from Concordia University, teaches English in Toronto and is the Digital Marketing Manager for the LMMI. With over seventeen years’ experience in children's publishing, she also lectures internationally on children's literature. She has essays published in L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years 1911-1942 and Reconsidering Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House and Beyond. Her YA novel, Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was shortlisted for the Vine Awards for the best in Canadian Jewish Literature. Melanie lives in Toronto with her partner and their furbabies, Merlin Cat and Angel Dog. You can follow Melanie on Twitter @MelanieFishbane on Instagram, melanie_fishbane and like her on Facebook