Any Emily of New Moon Fans? A question

Well, about the whole series, really. I just re-read Emily Climbs and Emily’s Ques, and it struck me just how very, very creepy her relationship with Dean Priest is all the way through. He’s her father’s age, and he falls possesively in love with an eleven-year-old, and (by the third book) almost convinces her to marry him. He puts her work down, and patronises her, even though he knows she has great talent, so he can keep a larger part of her love.

I don’t know if I’m reading extreme creepiness into him, or if he really is warped, and I don’t know whether Montgomery meant him to be as disturbing a character as he is. Any opinions or thoughts?

Wow, I never thought of it that way.

I loved that series when I was younger, though I haven’t read it in years.

He always seemed like just a strict mentor-figure to me. I never thought he fell in love with Emily when she was a kid.

Maybe I should re-read the series though. I love L. M. Montgomery.

I only read the first one, and I always meant to read the rest. I was a huge LM Montgomery fan starting with the Anne of Green Gables series (never finished the series, however).

When I read the first one, her relationship with Jarback (sorry, can’t remember his actual name) didn’t seem odd to me, but I was young, maybe 11 or 12 at the time. I think if I re-read the books now it might seem a lot more strange. Yet another book I’ll have to buy and re-read, I guess!

It is odd, but I don’t think she meant it to be disturbing. Remember, her time was not ours - at sixteen Anne Shirley’s friends were pairing off and getting married. And cousin marriages were common. It doesn’t seem THAT unlikely that Dean Priest would recognize that an eleven year old would quickly become a young woman eligible for marriage…and she is kind to him and he to her. Moreover, Montgomery does like to deal with “expectations for women” - for when the books were written its a major theme. It isn’t only Dean Priest who belittles her talent.

I watch a friend’s eleven year old daughter (she does as well) with the knowledge that she is on the cusp of something.

(Its been a long time, Dean is her cousin, right?)

I re-read it recently and was a lot more creeped out by him than when I read it before.

She has written some pretty dark stuff, too - I can’t remember the name of the collection, but there’s a whole book of short stories that veer off into ‘creepy’ territory.

IIRC, he’s not a first cousin, but second or third or something like that.

It does come off as creepy now, but Montgomery lived in a time when stuff like that wasn’t considered so weird. Victorians sometimes did similar things, and it shows up in books every so often. I’m now feeling frustrated that I can’t remember the other stories I’ve read in which a man waits for a girl to grow up so he can marry her…

It’s not just the age difference- he’s got a weird “You belong to me because I saved your life” vibe going. There are a few mentions of Emily feeling vaguely unsettled by him that make me wonder if Montgomery did mean him to be a bit creepy.
I’ve been meaning to ask- Katriona, is your handle from [ii]Spindle’s End*?
I know he’s her third cousin or something, and that didn’t bother me. Andrew, her first cousin, is courting Emily in Climbs. In the first book, Emily complains that she can’t make her characters do proper love-talk, and Dean promises to ‘teach’ her when she’s old enough, and he talks on and off about the unreachable desire of his heart. It just all comes off as unsettling.

Dean’s relationship with Emily is always a little obsessively creepy. In part because he is one of the few adults in her life who not only loves her, but actually understands Emily, they have a very close relationship. He comes extremely close to committing the unpardonable sin, at least in Emily’s eyes, in the 3rd book, IIRC. Fortunately, the right thing happens and all is well.

I think I have to agree with the consensus that it wasn’t viewed the same way in times of old.

I blush to admit that I’ve read many of the Elsie Dinsmore books, and her father’s close friend, Mr. Travilla, seems to be very fond of Elsie in a nicely avuncular way until she grows up enough that he feels free to be in love with her.

I find it very creepy.

Yes, it was a different time – Edgar Allan Poe had a similar relationship, though isn’t he a bit pre-Victorian? I can understand that part of it, I guess. At least to some extent. Preferably the guy has the decency for the girl to wait to grow up first. Dean does this (although he’s always hinting at their future together).

That said, Dean’s love is definitely of the jealous, obsessive, creepy kind. He would prefer her not to have any other friends, he wants her all to himself, tells her from a terribly early age that he has a romantic interest in her, and wants her to give up the one thing – writing – that he knows means everything to her.

All marks of a scary control freak emotionally abusive weirdo. The fact that he started all this when she was eleven just underscores it. The way he treats Emily – “I saved your life so you belong to me” – would be obsessive and creepy even if she were 18 and he said it.

Mrs. Furthur

Nope, just kind of a takeoff on my grandmother the flapper’s name, Katherina. I was in a phase of hating my name (cutesie ‘eeee’ sound on the end combined with Kay for a middle name, and thought it was just too-too ‘Ellie May’), and since there are a lot of Katherinas in the family tree, feeling resentful that I wasn’t one of them, with a name with a little dignity.

Around that same time, I read a novel with a character named Catriona, and also had picked up that Catilin/Kaitlin was properly pronounced Kathleen, so I figured Katriona = Katherina. I use versions of both a lot - my Grammy was the coolest.

And it turns out that my Kay is kind of our dirty little family secret - my mom wanted to name me Katherina, but didn’t want to feel guilted into giving me one of my paternal grandmother’s gawd-awful names for a middle name, so a select few of us know that the Kay is for Grammy. I like to forget that the rest came from a Beach Boys song… (oh, hell, it’s Wendy - ever listened to the lyrics? Their Wendy sounds a bit of a 'ho!)

I’ll have to look up Spindle’s End!

It’s by Robin McKinley, and it’s a retelling of the story of Briar Rose. My handle is from another McKinley novel, Deerskin. There’s only one other person here with a McKinley-derived username, so I got excited when I saw yours. :smiley:

I’ve always thought of Dean Priest as Emily’s father figure. Her parents die when she’s young so she doesn’t really have any older male to relate to other than her uncle. He initally reminded me of a benevolent older figure like Professor Bhaer in Little Women but now that I think of it the OP does have a good point.

But then I don’t think the New Moon series is Montgomery’s stongest work. The Anne of Green Gables series is better even if Anne does eventually get reduced in the latter books to a simple eccentric mommy archetype.

Her fate reminds me of some of the sequels to L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series. Meg, the main female character grows up, submerges herself in motherhood and becomes a remote and essentially uninteresting and unimportant part of the story. Attention shifts to her eldest daughter Poly.

I remember reading both Montgomery and L’Engle’s books as a child and thinking that I ought to have my adventures while I could because adulthood womanhood did not sound like much fun.

Are you thinking of Emma ? Doesn’t Mr. Knightley tell Emma something like he fell in love with her when she was 13?

That is true, lavender, although Meg is still interesting in A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I guess she’s still pre-motherhood. I wonder why both authors switched focus. Because they were writing for children, who wouldn’t be interested in adults? Or because they themselves had become bored with the characters? Interesting.

In the the book Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, by Kate Douglas Wiggan, a similar thing happens to Rebecca, who ends up marrying the older man. He falls in love with her during her antic years and waits for her to grow up. Although, as far as I remember, he doesn’t do anything that could be considered questionable in that time. It’s been many years since I’ve read the Rebecca books, so I can’t remember the male character’s name.


I’m rereading the Emily series now, and her relationship with Dean does strike me as creepier than it did on previous readings. It’s masked well because it’s mainly seen through Emily’s eyes and she’s more interested in the intellectual stimulation she gets from Dean’s conversations than any romantic possibilities. Lissla’s take on it does explain why the other Murrays aren’t too thrilled with Dean’s interest in Emily. They see where the relationship is headed, she doesn’t.

My question is, would the same thing have happened if Emily’s father hadn’t died and Dean met her at her father’s house? Part of me thinks Mr. Starr would have had a serious talk with his friend about his intentions towards Emily and why he should remove himself posthaste, but part of me isn’t sure.

Among the Shadows. It’s an excellent book. I recommend looking it up. (Along with anything by Robin McKinley, who is probably my absolute favorite fantasy author.)

w00t! We should form a Robin McKinley Appreciation Society or something.

Yes, if Douglas Starr were still alive when Dean and Emily met, he would have hit his old friend with a brick. Okay, maybe not, but the situation would have been so very different- Dean couldn’t have exerted the same unhealthy pull on Emily, because she would still have had one other person who really understood her, and who was looking out for her best interests, which Dean certainly doesn’t.

I always figured that the authors wanted to stick with young women to interest their audience. L’Engle did write some other books about adult women with marriages and children and such.

Anyway, I’m a mommy and I think I’m interesting, so there. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s been so long since I read Emily that I had forgotten how possessive Dean is. Thanks for reminding me about the creepy elements.