A trilogy of young-adult novels by L. M. Montgomery, her most popular books after the much more famous Anne of Green Gables series. These are also among the most autobiographical of her works.Little Emily Byrd Starr has everything she needs: her loving father, her wild imagination, her cats, and her constant friend the Wind Woman. But upon the death of her father, Emily must live with her mother's folk, the Murrays, a clan known for being old-fashioned and proud. Emily comes of age under the care of stern Aunt Elizabeth, gentle Aunt Laura, and peculiar Cousin Jimmy in the Murray homestead of New Moon, making friends, enemies, and a few beaux along the way. Most significantly, she develops her talents as a writer, which sets her at odds against the more traditional ways of The Clan. However, Emily can be dissuaded from that path no more than can the Wind Woman from her course. Maturity ensues.There are two sequels, Emily Climbs, which covers Emily studying away from home and beginning to expand her writing career, and Emily's Quest, which covers her career's launch, the changing dynamics of Emily's circle of friends, and romantic complications.
This series provides examples of:
Alpha Bitch: Rhoda. Emily is at first drawn to her for her pretty and sweet appearance, but soon learns better.
Evelyn Blake in the second book as well.
Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Emily, of course. Aunt Elizabeth is an aged example, with hair turning gray, but double on aloofness.
Bad Ass Grandma: Great Aunt Nancy plays this role. She will put visitors in a guestroom with swallows within the walls to make them think the room is haunted.
When the Murrays are discussing which one of them should adopt Emily, she hides under the dining room table to hear their conversation. She ends up hearing several insulting comments about herself and her father.
In Emily Climbs, two of the Murrays' neighbours come to the house and Emily is the only one home. She is wearing a rather old and ugly dress that she had put on to do housework. She is embarrassed to let the neighbours see her dressed like this, so instead of answering the door, she panics and hides in a closet. The neighbours come into the house anyway because the door is unlocked. Then they sit down in the parlour and have a conversation that contains several unflattering comments about Emily and Ilse.
Broken Treasure: Emily breaks a priceless vase when visiting her Great Aunt Nancy and is afraid to tell her for a long time. When she finally confesses, her aunt is actually amused because of how disappointed her heirs will be.
Giftedly Bad: Perry writes horrible poetry as a way of competing with Emily.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Murrays may be seen (and see themselves) as the Chosen People, but they're really more this.
Brutal Honesty: Mr. Carpenter is unsparing when it comes to critiquing Emily's work. The trope is subverted with Dean when he savages Emily's first novel not because he actually thinks it's bad as because he resents anything that takes her attention from him.
The Charmer: Teddy ends up as one of these; Ilse tells Emily he's become a Chick Magnet and is a wee bit too happily conscious of it.
Chick Magnet: As stated above, Teddy. From as early, as his school years (he's even first mentioned when Rhoda Stuart claims he's her 'fiance').
Dude Magnet: Both Emily and Ilse when they grow up, though the latter mostly off-screen.
Childhood Marriage Promise: Both defied and played straight. Perry's aunt tries to bribe Emily into making a promise to marry Perry (at the age of about ten) by saying that she (the aunt) will only pay for Perry's education if he can marry up into the Murray clan. Both Emily and Perry are embarrassed by the incident and don't take it seriously. But Emily and Teddy do agree that, if they reach a certain age and they're both unmarried, they'll wed each other. It comes to pass.
Children Are Cruel: Several girls tease Emily on her first day of school at Blair Water. They are less nasty the next day however, and Emily ends up befriending most of them.
The Clan: As screwed up as the Murrays may be, God help you if you snub or try to bring down anyone with Murray blood.
Clingy Jealous Mother: Mrs. Kent. She's cold and unfriendly to almost everyone, but passionately jealous of her son. Teddy even thinks that she poisoned his dog because she thought he loved it more than he loved her.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Cousin Jimmy. Which freaks people out when he starts to talk very seriously and clearly.
Cool Teacher: Mr Carpenter ends up as one of these, from top to toe. He recognizes and encourages talent in all forms, especially Emily's, and his lessons are unusual and very interactive but extremely effective.
Comically Missing the Point: When Emily is trying to teach Perry about good manners, she tells him that he shouldn't call his Aunt Tom an old beast. Perry says he has to call her that because she isn't a young beast.
Cursed with Awesome: Emily considers her imprecise and very rare psychic manifestations as awful, never-to-be-spoken-of incidents, when these powers only ever are shown as helping people. However, Justified when one considers Values Dissonance — psychic powers were classified under "insanity" in the Victorian era.
Aunt Ruth in Emily Climbs, to a lesser extent. She doesn't come to understand Emily the way that Elizabeth does, but she eventually learns to take pride in her as a fellow member of the Murray clan, and sticks up for her against others.
Due to the Dead: The residents of Blair Water, and especially the Murrays, are very particular about giving the dead what's owed to them.
Embarrassing Nick Name: Dean is widely known as Jarback Priest on account of his disability. One reason why he respects the memory of Emily's father so much is that he never called him this.
Emotions vs. Stoicism: Emily careens back and forth across this scale; she's naturally very high-strung and emotional, but the Murray pride in her means that when she's really hurt she'll make damned sure you don't know it.
Evil Matriarch: Aunt Elizabeth's really not, you know. But try telling Emily that a few times during the first book.
Fashion Hurts: Aunt Elizabeth makes Emily wear stockings and boots even on hot summer days. Emily would prefer to go barefoot, but Aunt Elizabeth considers this immodest.
Fatal Flaw: Dean's jealousy, Emily's (and the rest of the Murrays' as well, really) pride.
Final Speech: Mr. Carpenter gives a lengthy one, mostly composed of writing and life advice, to Emily as he lies dying of old age.
Famous Last Words: Mr. Carpenter's give something of a start to his housekeeper: "Beware... of... italics!"
Good Shepherd: Father Cassidy, Catholic and Irish. He impresses the Protestant Emily by talking to her like an adult and taking her writing seriously — one of the first adults she's met to do so.
Gossipy Hens: These characters tend to populate all of L.M. Montgomery's novels, and Blair Water's filled with them. Fairly appropriate, as anyone who's familiar with small-town life in the Maritimes can tell you.
Green Eyes: The Priest clan is known for their striking, sometimes uncanny green eyes.
Handicapped Bad Ass: Dean Priest. Comes close to Evil Cripple territory when he tells Emily her first novel is trash because he is jealous she cares so much about her writing.
He's Just Hiding: This is Mad Mr. Morrison's backstory, In-Universe, in Emily Climbs. When he was young, he married a beautiful girl named Annie, but she died shortly after their wedding. This seriously affected his mind and he came to believe that she was not dead, only lost. Decades later, he still spends all his time wandering around looking for her.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Great Aunt Nancy and her companion Caroline Priest, who have a rather unsettling love-hate relationship.
I Was Quite a Looker: Great-Aunt Nancy is 90 years old, wrinkled, and suffering from rheumatism. However, she was very beautiful as a young woman and she enjoys bragging about how many hearts she broke in those days.
Imaginary Friend: The Wind Woman. She has different guises depending on which direction the wind is coming from, and Emily never quite lets go of her.
In the Blood: The Murray family believes very strongly in this. Emily comes in for some snide comments, as any of her less-than-stellar personality traits are pinned on the fickle Starr blood from her father's side.
Jail Bait Wait: Dean is explicit about this on their first meeting, and the trope becomes increasingly obvious as the series progresses.
Man Child: Cousin Jimmy. He's never been quite "all there" since the accident when he was a child — but Emily knows that whatever part of him is not "there," it certainly isn't his heart.
Missing Mom: Juliet Murray was dead long before the first book started; the suspicious disappearance of Ilse's mother also ends up being an important plot point.
Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Emily's father, before his death. Emily herself, possibly, later in the books. Dean Priest is an outcast in his own family for his deformity, and has developed a deep cynical streak as a result of this, but nonetheless he becomes one of Emily's best friends, a kindred spirit for her. Subverted when he reveals how much he wants to control and possess Emily.Double Subverted when he redeems himself by breaking their engagement and sending the key to the Disappointed House.
Most Writers Are Writers: There are some strong autobiographical ties between L.M. Montgomery herself and Emily, much more than the Anne books.
My Girl Is Not a Slut: Dr. Burnley finds this out when he discovers that his wife did not leave him for another man but rather fell into a well and died years ago.
Naked People Are Funny: In the first book, Perry sticks his head out of the kitchen loft and interrupts a conversation. Aunt Elizabeth orders him to come down from the loft immediately. At first Perry says he can't, but when Aunt Elizabeth keeps insisting that he come down, he climbs down the ladder completely naked. He cheerfully explains that he fell into a brook earlier and was just about to change into dry clothes. Needless to say, Aunt Elizabeth does not find this amusing.
Neat Freak: Aunt Ruth. Women in this era are expected to be concerned about keeping their homes clean and tidy, but she takes it to ridiculous extremes, doing things like barging into Emily's room to interrogate her about why an antimacassar on the sofa is crooked.
My Greatest Failure: When they were children, Aunt Elizabeth pushed Cousin Jimmy into a well in a fit of temper, leaving Jimmy slightly brain damaged. He pities rather than resents Elizabeth for this because he realizes she was sick with guilt afterwards. Her allowing Jimmy to live at New Moon and acting as his caregiver may be her way of atoning.
Releasing from the Promise: Emily's Aunt Elizabeth informs her, two years into college, that since a rich relative took up the costs, and the promise to not write fiction had been made in return for the tuition, the aunt feels obliged to release her.
Secret Diary: Emily has bad luck keeping her secret diaries secret. Before Emily leaves for New Moon Aunt Elizabeth finds an old account book Emily uses as a diary. Emily manages to burn it before Aunt Elizabeth reads it, but later Aunt Elizabeth does read the secret letters Emily writes to her deceased father, and is angered and hurt by what Emily has written about her. Emily accidentally gives Mr. Carpenter a book of her character sketches of people she knows, but Mr. Carpenter is merely amused and impressed by her writing ability.
Second Love: Subverted in case of Ilse and Ted, when they get engaged. Ilse describes it as 'second-hand love'.
Sins of Our Fathers: So, so deeply ingrained in the society of the books. Saying these people hold grudges is putting it mildly. Ilse, especially, suffers from it in the first book, thanks to what everyone thinks her mother did when she was a baby.
Stepford Smiler: Both Emily and Ilse become this for a good part of the last book, when both they grow up to be rather unhappy young women. Okay, Emily stops smiling after breaking her engagement with Dean and it becomes more of a case of Stepford Pride.
Taking the Veil: Emily has the heroine of her poem do this when she thinks her love is dead. She has to consult a priest to figure out a happy ending, and discovers, to her dismay, that she needs to work "special dispensation" into a poem to pull it off.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ilse is the wild child and Emily is much better at domestic tasks when they're children. Later in life Ilse becomes quite concerned with fashion and a social butterfly, while Emily becomes more of a reclusive eccentric.
Tranquil Fury: How Emily gets mad, contrasted with Ilse's much more violent displays of anger.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Perry thinks he's one of these to Emily. And, for a good part of the last book, everyone toward some of the other ones in the pack, until things get fixed. Thank goodness, Ilse leaves Ted at the altar.
Victorian Novel Disease: Emily's father died of consumption and several of the Murrays think she'll suffer the same fate. As a result, she has to do unpleasant things like sleep with the bedroom windows closed (Emily loves the outdoors and fresh air) because night air is believed to be unhealthy.
When She Smiles: Emily is not supposed to be beautiful, but everyone forgets about that when she smiles.
Wife Husbandry: It's unclear how much of Dean's relationship with Emily falls under this trope. Suffice it to say that he was her father's best friend, and he's known her since she was very young. Dean also consistently implies that he has a claim on her life, having saved it the day they met.
Wrong Side of the Tracks: Perry Miller, who works as a hired boy for the Murrays when young, comes from a impoverished low class community called Stovepipe Town. He is determined to make good for himself and becomes a politician.