Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery
Goodreads: Kilmeny of the Orchard
Summary: When twenty-four-year-old Eric Marshall learns that his friend Larry West has fallen ill, he decides to spend his first few months after college filling in for him as a small-town schoolmaster on Prince Edward Island. On the Island, his uneventful days filled with Greek, mathematics, and painfully well-behaved students suddenly become more interesting when he stumbles upon the lovely and mysterious Kilmeny Gordon, a mute girl with a shadowed past who spends her evenings playing the violin in an abandoned orchard.
Review: Kilmeny of the Orchard has the feeling of a gentle, drawn-out fairy tale. Amidst the beautifully-described landscape of Prince Edward Island in spring, a handsome, intelligent young man has his one moment of romantic fancy when he finds the beautiful Kilmeny half-hidden in an orchard. Kilmeny for her part plays the maiden quietly in distress, needing to be saved without even knowing it. Innocent and childlike, her sheltered life makes her seem much younger than her eighteen years. But her beauty, her musical talent, and the intelligence in her eyes hint at the woman she is becoming. The romance that unfolds between the two is sweet and gentle – full of flowers, music, and hints of self-sacrifice.
Because Kilmeny is short – one version comes to 134 pages – the plot is relatively focused and straightforward. The fact that Eric teaches during the day provides little more than an excuse for him to be staying on the Island. None of that experience is described in detail. Likewise, the reader sees little of Kilmeny on her own or with her family when Eric is not around. The cast of characters is relatively small, and while they are endearing enough, there is not room to describe them in much depth. While Eric and Kilmeny have histories and distinct personalities, the development of their characters, especially how they change each other, seems a little more abrupt than this reader would have liked.
Kilmeny is a sweet, simple story with a dreamlike quality Montgomery emphasizes with her descriptions of the enchanting landscape and her reference to castles in the air. It left this reader with the feeling that there was more to the story, but also the desire to hear the rest if that were truly the case.