Kilmeny of the Orchard is the tale of Eric Marshall, who as a favor to a sick friend comes to the small town of Lindsay on Prince Edward Island to teach at the school. While walking one day, he wanders into a long forgotten orchard and hears beautiful violin music being played by a beguiling young lady, the book’s namesake, Kilmeny. Frightened, Kilmeny flees the orchard and though Eric comes back the next night and then the next, she doesn’t return. Disappointed and intrigued, he asks his landlady about the girl he has seen, not yet knowing her name, and in doing so learns the story of Kilmeny. Mute since birth, she lives sequestered at home with her aunt and uncle who the town considers odd because they keep to themselves, so no one in the town has ever laid eyes on her. Soon after that first meeting, she comes back to the orchard and a friendship between the two begins to bloom towards love.
I went into Kilmeny of the Orchard expecting a sweet love story, which is basically what I got, but I wanted to love the book and unfortunately only ended up finding it so-so. The writing was as lovely as you would expect from L.M. Montgomery and the descriptions brought a certain life to most scenes. However, while I enjoyed the story for the most part, I didn’t become immersed into either it or the characters. This may have to due with how perfect both Eric and Kilmeny were and there was really no “impossible obstacles” to overcome (as the book put it). While I expected a slight fairy tale feel to the book, I was disappointed that there really wasn’t depth to the overall story or the characters, especially whenever Eric thought about Kilmeny it was mostly to mention her looks or how innocent and without guile she was. Okay, so it’s a new love and his first true love, but a little more interaction rather than rhapsodizing over her perfections would have been preferable. Because the book is a product of a different time and place, a few remarks about “foreigners”, such as Neil Gordon who was born in Lindsay to Italian peddlers, Kilmeny’s “defect”, and other mindsets stood out. I wouldn’t say they alienated me from the book but they took me out of the story at times. Even though I understand those views in context to the times this was written, it can still be a hard adjustment for a modern reader. So while this was at times a nice read, it’s hardly something I’ll remember back upon.
Borrowed from the library.