Unlike The Blue Castle, which I’ve read over and over until I can almost quote it backwards, it’s been a while since I’ve perused The Story Girl. The experience was pure, unadulterated delight.
You probably remember Disney’s Tales from Avonlea series—Sara Stanley, the various King cousins, all running around the beautiful farms of Prince Edward Island. They are the characters of The Story Girl.
There are divergences, of course, but the main flavor is the same. I absolutely adore the flavor. The Kings are a tightly-knit family, but their branches span a broad kingdom. Aunt Olivia, Uncle Roger, Uncle Alec, who tell stories of Uncle Edward, the celebrated minister, Aunt Julia, the world-famous singer, Uncle Stephen, Uncle Felix, Aunt Felicity, now gone, Uncle Alan in South America … the young cousins are wrapped in the warm, belonging arms of a large family’s tales and memories.
I think that aspect really stood out to me, as I thought of my own six siblings, and what our descendants will think of each other. No doubt we’ll swarm with cousins, as well. And I hope they’ll echo Sara’s sentiments: “I’ve often thought what a dreadful thing it would have been if Grandfather and Grandmother King had never got married to each other. I don’t suppose there would have been a single one of us children here at all; or if we were, we would be part somebody else and that would be almost as bad.”
The novel is episodic, and episodically perfect. I still remember the first time I read of all the aunts and uncles and cousins trickling into the orchard at the end of a long day, when their work was finally done, sitting in the grass telling bygone stories, singing old songs, and then Uncle Alec breaking out into the 90th psalm. My since-favorite psalm. Gives me the shivers.
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.... For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.... For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years yet is their strength, labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.... So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.... Oh, satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.... And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."
The Story Girl is an ideal read-aloud book. A new story in each chapter, with brilliantly funny scrapes and exchanges between siblings and cousins. It never ceases to amaze me what a genius Maud Montgomery was.
(Note: The photo was taken in PEI, of the real Rachel Ward’s blue chest.)
Read for the L.M. Montgomery Challenge