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Monday, February 21, 2011

Emily of Deep Valley

Emily of Deep Valley: A Deep Valley Book (P.S.)I think this book did it for me.  Really.  I knew I really liked the books I have read by Maud Hart Lovelace.  So far I have read Betsy-Tacy, Betsy, Tacy and Tib, Heaven to Betsy, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Carney's House Party, and Winona's Pony Cart.  (Links are to my reviews.)  I just finished Emily of Deep Valley.  I have to say, I think Maud Hart Lovelace has stolen my heart!  I just love her writing.

Emily Webster is just finishing high school and longs to go to college.  She lives with her grandfather and is fully committed to staying with him to care for him.  She sees all of her friends off to college and is left alone and lonely.  Depression sinks in.  Emily fights it.  She  thinks about others-especially the Syrians.  She reaches out first to the Syrian children creating a Boys Club (that a girl is welcome to be part of), and then by teaching the Syrian women English!  Wow...remember this was in the early 1900's!

Not only is Emily amazing in her love toward the Syrians of Deep Valley, but she also had a deep love and respect for her grandfather, as well as others of his generation.  She sacrificially cares for him.  At first it is hard for her, but then it becomes her joy.

Emily starts a book club as another way to keep her mind engaged and fight the depression.  Friendships grow and her depression lifts.

There is also some subtle history withing Emily of Deep Valley.  I learned that Memorial Day was once Decoration Day-a truly patriotic day.  Emily's grandfather and his friends who fought in the Civil War marched in the Decoration Day parade and visited the local school.  His generation was respected and honored, as they should be!  Emily's home is also called the Hull House of Deep Valley.  Jane Adams had invited the poor and lonely into her home to help them, and Jane did the same.

Emily has a deep crush on a bit of an obnoxious fellow.  Slowly she realizes that his character is lacking, especially when compared to her friend Cab and the new teacher.  Cab helps Emily get to know some of the Ancients-those from the class of 1910, who graduated just two years before her..

I have actually had a really hard time articulating why I love this book so much.  I don't feel that I'm giving this book review justice because I was so emotionally involved.  Overall, the sensitivity and compassion that Emily has is amazing.  The character of Emily is so well developed, and I relate to her on so many levels.  This is why I "am" Emily Webster according to the Betsy-Tacy quiz.  (I wasn't surprised that Emily was followed by Tacy.)
Which Betsy-Tacy character are you?
Your Result: Emily Webster
Shy and quiet, uncomfortable with the boy-girl bantering that comes so easy for others, Emily is kind-hearted and dignified yet prone to melancholy. She is intellectual and knows the value in serving others, such as the children in Little Syria, and knows how to �muster her wits� in order to conquer her bouts of depression and sadness. Although at first boys don�t see her as the type of girl they�d take on a date, soon they see Emily as a �stunner� who is more interesting to talk to than most girls! Emily ends up with someone who doesn�t care what she was like in high school but who understands her and loves her for who she is!
Tacy Kelly
Irma Biscay
Betsy Ray
Tib Muller
Julia Ray
Carney Sibley
Winona Root
Which Betsy-Tacy character are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
I can't say enough about this book from beginning to end.  Not only did Maud Hart Lovelace write about issues such as depression and racism in the year 1950, but she did it well.  I think everything she wrote about in 1950 is still applicable today.  Just like the forward to Carney's House Party/Winona's Pony Cart, the forward to this book read like I was talking to my best friend about another deeply loved friend-Emily.  The notes in the back of the book, "About Emily of Deep Valley" helped the reader to understand that the story of Emily Webster was very similar to the story of Maud Hart Lovelace's friend Marguerite Marsh.  Much is shared about Marguerite's life.  However, she died two weeks after giving birth to a son, in 1925.  Unlike the other books that MHL wrote, she was not able to seek out the real-life friend to help with some of the details of the story.  After reading the notes in the back of the book, it's apparent that Marguerite Marsh was a young lady of compassion who earned my respect.

I can't recommend this book enough, especially if your personality is anything like mine!  Thank you so much to Harper Perennial for providing this book for review purposes.  I also want to let readers know that Library Hospital has the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge every year in October!  This year when it's closer to the challenge I will have a giveaway for a couple of MHL books to encourage you to participate!


Carrie said...

Oh, I do like the sound of this one! I think I'll pick it up and read it during Sarah's next MHL Challenge. I'd still like to participate in it and since I've now read all the Betsy-Tacy books I wasn't sure what I was going to do next. But this one sounds like a good fit and one that I would like. Esp. since it stole your heart! =)

Glad to read your review of it! Thanks!

Katie said...

Just stumbled on your blog today and was interested this review - sounds like a book that I'd truly enjoy racing through. I was thrilled to see that my local library has it. Thanks for passing it along!

Callie said...

I just added this book to my must read list of books. Thanks for the great review.

hopeinbrazil said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! I'll be looking for it.

Judi said...

I've always been able to identify with Emily Webster, even though we came from different generations. Being raised by elderly grandparents, I understand only too well what it was like for Emily to be on the outside looking in.

I had a slightly older cousin whom I idolized. Not only because she was pretty and popular at school, but because she had a "normal" home and parents. Having raised only sons, my grandmother didn't realize that a girl needed things; just like Emily's grandfather didn't know she was supposed to have flowers for her graduation. It still makes me sad to read about Annette's many graduation gifts while Emily received only a few. I thought that Annette's mother was fond enough of Emily, but after all she was only a niece by marriage. I was reminded of Fanny Price in Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park".

I did admire Emily for having the courage to make a life for herself once her friends were all at college.

Annette W. said...

Judi, I loved hearing your personal perspective! Despite my own name, it was hard for me to like Annette in the story...not that she was mean, but because she just didn't seem to understand Emily...or if she did, she didn't help!

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