Welcome to the third of this Yuletide's festive Tales for Our Time, and another seasonal sampling from the oeuvre of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.
Thank you for your kind words about this choice of Christmas company. To be honest, I wasn't sure about our PEI foray, and worried that it might not appeal to those who favor the manlier types like H G Wells and Conan Doyle. But it seems to have been enjoyed by most, and very much by some. Barbara Yunker, a California member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
Thank you, Mark, for reading an excerpt from Anne of Green Gables! The whole series is excellent. The author captures the intensity of childhood so well, like Anne imbibing too much elderberry (?) wine. Maybe not the best example. Or in a later book, Anne's children spend the night with a pack of rough kids. The reader really feels emotion right along with the characters.
Thank you again for reading a girl's book! Much as I love Rudyard Kipling, Montgomery is a fun change.
Elderberry wine? Don't go there, Barbara. I see the comments on our first episode have already detoured down the culinary rabbit hole of a really good mince pie. As to whether it's a "girl's book", according to First Month Founding Member Nicholas Strathy, the chaps like it, too:
My grandfather, who survived mustard gas in World War One, was a fan of Anne of Green Gables or I might never have read it for two reasons: if he hadn't survived I would never have been born, and if he hadn't spoken well of it, I would likely have continued to dismiss it as some book for young girls.
Eventually I did read it as a young man to see what all the fuss was and found it a great read, easily able to stir emotions, though verging sometimes on sentimentality, perhaps due to the author's own battered emotions revealed in Mark's introduction, but not without ironic awareness of the limits of unchecked emotion as in the humorous episode of the floods of tears over the departure of the favorite teacher.
I also appreciated the cello and piano arrangement here of 'Hail Thou Ever Blessed Morn'.
Or, if you prefer, "See Amid the Winter's Snow": Chacun à son goût and all that. I'm quite a fan of John Goss, who composed one of my all-time favourite hymns "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven". Unlike many others in the hymnal, where the text was fitted to whatever tune was lying around, Sir John composed the music for "See Amid"/"Hail Thou Ever" especially for Edward Caswall's words, and it's a corker. It's been used for various lyrics of social protest over the years, in Britain for the 1980s miners' strikes, in Oz to celebrate the eight-hour workday, and, in a Canadian context, as "No More Fish, No Fishermen" to mark the death of the Newfoundland fisheries. But, at this time of year, we'll stick with the original text.
This third seasonal story by L M Montgomery, "The End of the Young Family Feud", finds us back in Maritime Canada, where rival branches of the Youngs have been mired for years in intra-family bitterness - until one Christmas morning...
We trailed out to the stationmaster, and asked him limply if he could direct us to Mr. Norman Young's house.
He was a rather grumpy individual, very busy with pencil and notebook over some freight; but he favoured us with his attention long enough to point with his pencil and say jerkily, "Young's? See that red house on the hill? That's it."
The red house was about a quarter of a mile from the station, and we saw it plainly. Accordingly, to the red house we betook ourselves. On nearer view it proved to be a trim, handsome place, with nice grounds and very fine old trees.
We found the key under the kitchen doorstep and went in.
And from that prosaic beginning a most unusual Christmas occurs. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read "The End of the Young Family Feud" simply by clicking here and logging-in. The first two installments can be found here.
It's the Christmas season at SteynOnline, which means not only Yuletide tales every evening between now and the blessed day, but also audio entertainment of a different kind in our eightieth birthday celebration of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". And, coming this weekend, don't miss the 2019 edition of The Mark Steyn Christmas Show with me and a multitude of special guests.
Meanwhile, if you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and, if you're seeking something for a fellow fan of classic fiction this holiday season, don't forget our limited-time-only Christmas Gift Membership, which this year includes a personalized Christmas card from yours truly along with a handsomely engraved presentation set of three of our most popular Tales for Our Time (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Time Machine and The Thirty-Nine Steps).
On the other hand, if you'd like a book in old-fashioned book form, over at the Steyn store there are bargains galore among our Steynamite Christmas Specials - as well as an extra-festive gift for your loved one: a deluxe berth on next year's third annual Mark Steyn Cruise.