Jane of Lantern Hill is L. M. Montgomery's last novel. Jane Stuart lives with her mother and wealthy grandmother in the city of Toronto. She is miserable under her grandmother's tyrannical rule, all of her talents smothered and any friendships snuffed out. Nonetheless, Jane dreams of happiness for herself and her beautiful but spineless mother Robin.
Having always been told he was dead, it comes as a great surprise to Jane to learn that her father Andrew Stuart is actually alive and well and living in Prince Edward Island — and he wants to meet her. Reluctant, sure she's going to hate the Island and hate her father and hate everything about it, Jane sets out — but as soon as she arrives, it turns out that she and her father are true kindred spirits, and Jane's summers on PEI become a seemingly unlimited opportunity for personal growth, wonder, and joy.
This is a little odd among Montgomery's books, not only for being at least partially set away from PEI, but for striking a tone somewhere between the whimsical coming of age of Anne of Green Gables, et alia, and the poignant, sometimes desperate need for love and beauty in the lonely, adult The Blue Castle.
Tropes found in this work
- Alice Allusion: Jane dreams of going into a mirror until she's ridiculed for vanity for sitting in front of them.
- Arcadia: Prince Edward Island, per all of Montgomery's works, and even more literally than usual.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jane's grandmother, whose very correct, conventionally grande dame facade slips into ugly rage whenever her iron hold over her daughter is threatened, even by Jane.
- Aunt Irene, Andrew's much more obviously simpering hypocritical sister. She is rightly described as "sweet poison" by one of the neighbours.
- Cinderella Circumstances: Jane's friend Jody, the sweet, beautiful orphan girl used as a maid-of-all-work for the boarding house next door.
- City Mouse: Jane, at first. Diminishes as her sojourns on the Island reveal her more domestic, down-to-earth side.
- Close-Knit Community: The little PEI township Jane and her father move into.
- Evil Matriarch: Jane's grandmother, so much. Jane's own description is of her stalking the elegant family home like a 'bitter, vindictive queen'.
- Extreme Door Mat: Jane's mother, whose marriage ended in separation after she couldn't stand up to her mother and earlier couldn't stand up to her meddling sister-in-law Irene. She finally grows a backbone when she defies her mother and rushes to Prince Edward Island when Jane nearly dies of pneumonia.
- Face Your Fears: Cows, in Jane's case.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Interestingly played with for a children's novel of the time. Once on the Island Jane picks up cooking easily along with seemingly every other classically "female" domestic art, but this is presented as her own personal route to self-empowerment, rather than stereotype.
- Gilded Cage: Jane's mother's life in the mansion on Gay Street. Her mother lavishes her with all the physical trappings of maternal love, but Jane senses Robin is still unhappy despite all her expensive clothes and the parties she goes to.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Jane's grandmother is fiercely this in regards to anyone else her daughter tries to love, to the point of trying to forbid her to go to Jane when she's very likely dying.
- Honorary Uncle: Little Aunt Em, to everyone in her PEI neighborhood. Also Uncle Tombstone, whose real last name is Tunstone.
- Hopeless Suitor: The Jimmy Johns' hired man, Step-a-yard, is in love with Miss Justina Titus, but knows that it's hopeless since she's faithful to the memory of Alec Jacks, who was killed in World War I.
- In Harmony with Nature: One of Jane's many stifled talents that emerge only when she heads East. She turns out to be a great gardener, and has a particular affinity for the moon. There's also the sequence wherein she finds and leads an escaped circus lion home (granted, it's specified as old and toothless, but still...)
- I Never Got Any Letters: From Jane's father to her mother, begging her to return to him. Turns out dear old Grandmother saw to that.
- The Mourning After: Miss Justina Titus is still faithful to the memory of Alec Jacks, who died in World War I, and still wears her hair in a pompadour as that was how she wore it when she said good-bye to him.
- My Beloved Smother: Jane's grandmother, so, so very much.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Jane's friend Jody, albeit unusually for Montgomery this is not a central plot driver.
- Parental Favoritism: Jane's grandmother toward her mother, so long as Robin doesn't get any ideas about independence from her. At all.
- Turn Out Like Her Father: Her grandmother objects to this in Jane, and succeeds so thoroughly that Jane even doesn't like the notion she gets her chin from her father, at first.