Goodreads: Along the Shore
This volume presents sixteen previously unknown short stories written by L. M. Montgomery, best-known for Anne of Green Gables, and collected by Rea Wilmshurst. Though each one is centered around the sea, they span in content from romance to humor to tragedy.
Though I appreciate Wilmshurt’s work in collecting previously unknown work, I admit that I find her editorial choices a little strange. She presents various collections of Montgomery’s work by gathering tales with similar themes– the sea, the supernatural, orphans, correspondence–and publishing them all together in the same volume. (Along the Shore, of course, is all about the sea.) The sixteen short stories in Along the Shore are already a little repetitive because they contain characters, events, and entire chunks of narration and dialogue that can also be found in books such as Emily of New Moon, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of Ingleside. But because they are all centered around the same oceanic theme, they also repeat themselves within the same volume. Tales of characters about to be caught by the tide or saved by dogs occur more than once within the collection making it seem, if not predictable (Montgomery’s work is already arguably predictable and does the stories no harm), at least a little tiresome. One wishes for variety.
If one overlooks Wilmshurst’s editorial choices and considers only the short stories, it is clear that Montgomery brings to them the same wit and sensitivity that have endeared her to readers of her novels. They vary from tragic romances to happy romances, tales of brave children to tales of brave dogs. Notable among them are the courtship of a woman and a man who can never meet face-to-face, thanks to the woman’s man-hating aunt; a minster’s love for a woman who has never been to church; and the inadvertent betrayal of two friends who fall in love with each other’s beaux. Even when the stories are tragic, they often contain a hint of the humorous or at least of the ironic.
Any L. M. Montgomery fan will surely love this collection, but it also has appeal for those who simply enjoy a good short story. These are the kinds of short stories that wrap up right, giving one a sense of closure, even if the ending is sad. No nebulous, modern endings that simply off the tale and call it “mysterious” here. Every tale feels like a precious gem, carefully wrapped up and gifted to the reader. Montgomery wants her readers to enjoy these tales, to be moved by them, to live them. She doesn’t do you the discourtesy of ending a good tale that has only just begun.
*Content Note: The final story contains an offensive use of the n-word.