This is one of those books I have to revisit every few years to recapture its magic. And magic it certainly has – one of my favourite types of magic. The magic that is implied but never seen – the magic where (in this book, for instance) you know leprechauns exist, but you never actually run into them. They’re there, just hiding around the corner, and you know you can catch them if you’re sneaky about it, but they always disappear just before you see them. The magic, also, where you know that things were made for you, right from the first instance you lay your eyes on them. There is always some sort of magic implied in LMM’s stuff – the best characters always believe in or talk about some sort of magic, and that is usually just enough magic to make it more entrancing.
Jane of Lantern Hill is the story of a young girl growing up in Toronto. Living with her mother, aunt and grandmother, Jane is an awkward young girl who doesn’t do well in school and who can never seem to please her grandmother. One day Jane discovers that her father isn’t dead, as she had previously believed, but is living in PEI where Jane had been born. Her mother had taken Jane to Toronto when she was three years old, and had never returned to the Island. Despite her anxiety when her father sends for Jane to visit him during one summer (believing, as Jane did, that her father had never wanted her), she soon grows to love the Island and her father. True kindred spirits, they are, right from the beginning. Through that first summer, and the one following, Jane grows into herself – she is no longer awkward, she gains a thirst for knowledge that helps her in school, she is no longer cowed by those who used to hold sway over her.
This is one of my favourite LMM books. I positively love reading about Jane’s transformation throughout the book – from being a small timid child to a lovely girl who is so sure of herself and who demands the respect of those very people who had always looked down on her previously.
There is also the factor of Jane’s parents still being in love with each other after all these years, even though each believed the other hated them. I guess I have a soft spot for those types of stories but they are beautiful – that the people involved never stopped loving each other through it all. And Jane’s dad, Andrew, is such a wonderful character. As soon as Jane meets him on the Island, you know he’s going to be brilliantly wonderful. Flawed, yes, but still romantic in the sense where he knows what magic is.
Brilliant book, and it totally filled my Jane craving.