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Literature / Kilmeny of the Orchard

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A novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. A young man named Eric Marshall goes to teach a school on Prince Edward Island and meets Kilmeny, a mute girl who has perfect hearing. He sees her when he is walking in the woods and hears her playing the violin. He visits her a number of times and gradually falls in love with her.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Kilmeny is very beautiful. And so painfully, perfectly good.
  • Cute Mute: Kilmeny, of course.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: The very feminine Kilmeny plays expert violin. Eric is staggered that her talents are being wasted in backwoods Canada, and is determined to see her further her musical education.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Eric and Kilmeny get married very, very quickly, which was less unusual at the time of writing.
  • Happily Ever After: It's implied that Eric and Kilmeny have a wonderful life together after the book ends.
  • Innocent Prodigy: Kilmeny is completely unaware of how musically gifted she is, and has lived an extremely sheltered life.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Kilmeny sincerely believes this, and is under the impression that men stare at her only because she is so very ugly. Justified in that her guardians removed or destroyed every mirror in her house to prevent the vanity that consumed her mother, so she has no inkling of her appearance other than distorted reflections in the water.
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  • In the Blood: Characters in the book are distrustful of Neil. His jealous and violent behaviour is attributed to his being the child of Italian parents, a view the author appears to endorse by making him the villain of the story.
  • Love at First Sight: Eric falls in love with Kilmeny the moment he sees her, which he discovers later during his Love Epiphany.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Everyone in town, including Kilmeny herself, believes her muteness to be the result of a curse her mother accidentally began when she refused to speak with her estranged father, Kilmeny's grandfather, while she was pregnant with Kilmeny out of wedlock. To find the cause of Kilmeny's mute state, the practical Eric enlists the help of his physician friend David, who finds nothing physically wrong with Kilmeny and concludes that her condition is psychosomatic.
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  • Missing Mom: Eric's mother died when he was young. Kilmeny's mother passed away a few years before the story opens.
  • Parental Abandonment: Neil's mother died when he was born, and his father abandoned him right after.
  • The Promise: Treated very darkly. Kilmeny's aunt and uncle fervently believe her muteness is owed to a vow of silence taken by her mother during her pregnancy, to never speak another word to the father that rejected her. Even when her father lay dying and asked his daughter to speak one word of reconciliation, Kilmeny's mother refused. She didn't speak a word until after her baby's birth, when she broke down sobbing.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Kilmeny has dark hair and a porcelain complexion.
  • Scenery Porn: Like all Montgomery's novels, the beautiful scenery is dwelt on heavily.
  • Talking with Signs: Kilmeny communicates with the help of a little chalkboard she carries on her at all times; Eric notes that she writes so quickly and fluently, it doesn't hinder their conversation one bit.