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Akin to Anne: Tales of Other Orphans Paperback – April 1, 1990
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From the Publisher
In this heartwarming collection of nineteen short stories L.M. Montgomery returns to the enchanting shores of beautiful Prince Edward Island to tell about orphans much like Anne of Green Gables -- vulnerable, sensitive, and full of hope and courage. There's the lonely young girl on a quest for a real-life mother, a budding artist who dreams of fame and fortune, and old family quilt that unites two sisters with a long-lost relative, an ancient Egyptian doll that invokes an unusual spell for a little girl yearning for a special friend. L.M. Montgomery brings to life a magical place and a circle of characters who will long be treasured and remembered.
From the Inside Flap
twarming collection of nineteen short stories L.M. Montgomery returns to the enchanting shores of beautiful Prince Edward Island to tell about orphans much like Anne of Green Gables -- vulnerable, sensitive, and full of hope and courage. There's the lonely young girl on a quest for a real-life mother, a budding artist who dreams of fame and fortune, and old family quilt that unites two sisters with a long-lost relative, an ancient Egyptian doll that invokes an unusual spell for a little girl yearning for a special friend. L.M. Montgomery brings to life a magical place and a circle of characters who will long be treasured and remembered.
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Montgomery was known to work out plot devices in her short stories that later appeared in her novels. In this collection, "An Invitation Given on Impulse" and "Her Own People" concern kindly characters who offer to share a redemptive visit to a family home with a lonely schoolmate or fellow teacher, a theme later developed at length in the novel "Anne of Windy Poplars."
Other stories concern children whose unselfish concern for sickly or dying friends may be rewarded by an unexpected family connection, as in "The Little Black Doll" and "Ted's Afternoon Off." "The Running Away of Chester" is the rather frightening story of a young boy who flees an abusive guardian, and who must navigate unfamilar country to find a new and more welcoming home. Some of the stories take a humorous if heartwarming turn, as "Charlotte's Ladies", in which rival spinsters compete for a deserving young girl in an orphanage.
"Akin to Anne" is highly recommended to fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery, who will find here more examples of her excellent stories.
In Montgomery's time, with its dependence on snail mail and a lack of social services, it might easily happen that children were separated from their extended families and even from siblings, to be left dependent on the charity of neighbors or to make their own way in the world. This terrifying prospect is at the heart of these stories. Montgomery was expected to provide a happy ending, but it is her journey to that ending that makes most of these stories quite entertaining and even heartwarming.
In "Charlotte's Quest", a young girl goes to a local witch in search of a mother, and finds someone quite unexpected. In "Marcella's Reward", a patient, overworked shop girl fashions a small miracle for her sickly sister. In "Freda's Adopted Grave", a little girl's care of a forgotten grave leds her to a grateful would-be mother. In "The Little Black Doll", the young caretaker of a dying girl has the nerve to ask for help from a stranger, with unexpected results. A similar story is told about a talented young boy who tends a handicapped friend in "Ted's Afternoon Off." The longest story of the collection, "The Running Away of Chester", is a rather frightening escape from an abusive guardian of a young boy. This reviewer's favorite is "Charlotte's Ladies", a humorous tale in which a deserving young girl at an orphange becomes the prize of two competing spinsters.
"Akin to Anne" is highly recommended to fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery and her short stories.
The particular selection in "Akin to Anne" is put together by Rea Wilmshurst. She located many of Montgomery's short tales that regard other orphans (just like our dear Anne Shirley), from newspaper and magazine publications. All were originally published between 1900 and 1933.
All the tales included in "Akin to Anne" make for some charming literature to read, that both young readers and adults can cherish alike. The girls and boys featured in these stories learn important life lessons or find the meaning of a true family, blood-related or not. When reading these stories, one after another, the plots do seem to mimic each other a bit, but there are surprises thrown in now and then. All in all, it's a charming set of short stories!
A glimpse at my three favorites...
Charlotte's Ladies: Little Charlotte is stuck in an orphan asylum. "No one will ever want to adopt me, because I've mousy hair and freckles." (Or, at least, she thinks so.) Her only consolation is that she just discovered some loose boards in the asylum's fence -- just big enough to look out through and see what is in the outside world. With new friendships and a Very Handsome Cat to keep her company sometimes, she inevitably becomes part of a new life on the other side of the fence.
Her Own People: Constance Foster is a quiet, young schoolteacher, alone in the world, with no family, friends, and not even any special plans for the summer holidays. A fellow teacher, Miss Channing, takes pity on the situation, and make her own suggestion. -- The reason I enjoyed this story is because of the emotional change that takes place in Miss Foster's heart. By the end of the tale, she has some beautiful words to share.
Freda's Adopted Grave: "It was one of the unwritten laws of the little community that on some selected day in May everybody would repair to the graveyard to plant, trim and clip." In the time leading up to Graveyard Day, all the girls chatter on about the types of flowers they get to use for their families' graves -- except for one girl, Freda, who is a bit sensitive on the subject, knowing that she doesn't have a grave to decorate. Her thoughtful personality shines forth, though, as she sets out to do a unique act of kindness.