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Inasmuch as Emily of Deep Valley, by Maud Hart Lovelace, begins at Memorial Day (Decoration Day as it was then), we like to take it on in late spring.
Of the three Maud Hart Lovelace books that include, but do not feature Betsy Ray (of the Betsy-Tacy series), Emily of Deep Valley probably stands best as an independent read. While members of "the crowd" periodically appear as comfortably familiar landmarks within Emily's world, this is definitely Emily's book. However, had you never stepped into Deep Valley before, this book would still be fully comprehensible.
Emily's story is different and remarkable from the sometime oblivious gaiety of the other books in and around the Betsy-Tacy series. Emily's view of Deep Valley is more one of confinement than contentment. Very bright and recently graduated from high school, she is the only member of her group unable to go on to college. Despite the offer of a scholarship, the scope of her world remains her hometown. Orphaned and reared by her grandparents, it is now her turn to care for her declining and widowed grandfather. Emily's story becomes one of learning to bring magic into one's life, rather than having it delivered. She begins to reach out to the world and to the education she has been denied, and in reaching out affects more lives than her own.
The tale of her maturing beyond her friends into a new world of understanding and compassion makes for a captivating book. There is all the usual delight of Lovelace's Valley, including an empathetic re-visiting "over the big hill," a wonderfully bright and handsome teacher, and one of the best put-downs of egotism in all of young adult fiction. Sympathetic from beginning to end, Emily of Deep Valley is well worth a return visit.
Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace is featured in Vol 4 No 4 of The Storybook Home Journal.