Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mistress Pat

Mistress Pat

L.M. Montgomery

Date: 1935   —   $4.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Children's

In many ways, this sequel to Pat of Silver Bush is about change. What's really strange is that the cover seems to bear this out. The cover on the copy I have is nearly identical as to placement and pose... but one mine, the girl is somewhat different, with redder hair and short sleeves. To make matters worse, the young pine trees in the background have grown a bit before the Amazon cover... so one has to wonder why the same artist (it has to be the same artist or an imitator) has gone back and done essentially the same picture twice! How odd.

Since the theme of the book is Change, the structure is Time. The book takes place over eleven years while the seeming Right Man for Pat is away, studying. Since Pat dislikes change so much, it is inevitable that change should happen to Silver Bush in such a way as to slowly detach her love from it. But she just seems so impossibly dense as to the outcome— when everything she loves about Silver Bush is gone, what is the point of staying? But it still takes a proverbial crowbar to pry her loose.

A lot of people have noted the neuroticism of Pat. Some more have objected to the elitism— but the elitism I saw had mostly to do with manners and with history. Many original families of locations were quite snobbish about their family heritage, something incomprehensible to most Americans, but with that heritage came a sense of duty in acting in a particular manner. One can only point out the rudeness of the Binnie clan as an example.

As a sketch of times gone by, this is an excellent book. But it's a little disturbing, all the same.

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