The Pat Series

Phil, in Anne of the Island says, speaking of Pickwick Papers, ‘That’s a book that always makes me hungry. There’s so much good eating in it.’ I feel the same way when I read the Pat series. The food Judy cooks in that book! The dinners with fried chicken, jelly-roll cake, apple cake, cinnamon buns! Yum! Even the food I’ve never tried sounds so good. Pat, the perfect housekeeper is perfect in every other way except in relation to her love life (just like all her heroines!). Her cooking is superb… they’re always having some party or dinner and planning exquisite menus – the best part. I especially love the menu they prepare for the visit of their cousin Countess of Medchester: Fried chicken with sparrow grass, coconut cake, iced melon balls and ice-cream; and I actually tried ‘ribbon sandwiches’ just because they were mentioned in the book!

Besides the wonderful food (I already feel hungry), Pat herself is different from Montgomery’s other heroines. She is a born housewife. She actually loves her home (sometimes to obsession; poor Hilary!) and takes care of it. I have actually taken some tips from her books: putting lavender between the sheets, hanging Chinese Lanterns for effect and many, many more great ideas. It’s like the two books are a guide for the perfect housewife.

The books were written much later – Pat of Silver Bush in 1933, and Mistress Pat in 1935 – than the Anne Series. Her skill is certainly more than when she wrote her first book. She shows a greater range of emotions. The first Anne book, though having its share of grief, was mostly light and sparkling, but the Pat books show more sadness and sometimes even despair: the scenes where Pat is in the attic and feels old and when Sid marries May, her longtime enemy. We see her portray much more sadness than in any of her earlier novels. This is also due to the fact that it takes many years for Pat to realize her love for Hilary and to end her loneliness.

Judy’s death was the saddest part of the novel for me. The relationship between Pat and Judy had been beautiful to see and I actually cried when she died. But Montgomery never allows her readers to remain grief-stricken for long; something always happens to take the edge away. It is apparent why she does so, in a dialogue from Emily Climbs,

            ‘I read a story to-night. It ended unhappily. I was wretched until I had invented a happy ending for it. I shall always end my stories happily. I don’t care whether it’s ‘true to life’ or not. It’s true to life as it should be and that’s a better truth then the other.’

I am inclined to agree with her point of view. It is better to portray a better way of life in novels then all the social evils of the world; something to aspire to; an ideal. Whenever I want to escape the realities of the world, I grab one of Montgomery’s novels and forget all my problems. It is apparent that L. M. Montgomery was a well-read woman. She refers to Dickens’ novels many times and even Rudyard Kipling. She saw the evil in the world and yet was still able to write of its beauty.