Mistress Pat by L.M. Montgomery
Mistress Pat picks up a shortly after the end of Pat of Silver Bush. At ease in her role as mistress of Silver Bush while her mother recovers from the surgery that left her terribly weakened, Pat spends her days in the company of her younger sister Rae, who refuses to go by the old nickname “Cuddles” now that she’s all grown up, and the ever indomitable Judy Plum, whose stories continue to retain their fantastical charm for all Pat has grown too old to continue to believe in witches and fairies. Now 20, Pat has learned to accept the inevitability of change, though she still dreads its arrival. For Pat, there is still no better place than Silver Bush and no beau whose charms can compare with the charms of her beloved home. Beaus may come and go, their company making for a nice time, but Pat knows that it will take more than a good time with a cordial companion to make her want to get married and leave the familiarity of SIlver Bush.
Like the Green Gables series, the two Silver Bush novels cover a lengthy span of time. Mistress Pat alone spans an 11 year time period, and Pat is only around 7 when she is first introduced in Pat of Silver Bush. My calculations are terrible, but I believe Pat is 27 or 28 when the novel ends…perhaps even 30, there is much speculation on the great-aunts’ part that Pat is permanently “on the shelf”. However, I never felt like the story dragged; Pat is such a lively, spirited character with incredibly modern (dare I say feminist?) sensibilities that I felt like I was getting to know a dear friend’s life story. Pat and Judy’s friendship is as lovely as ever, and her relationship with the grown up Rae adds a new dimension to Pat’s character as we get to see her interacting with an equally independent and modern sister. The Gardiners continue to be a funny and fussy bunch, but Pat can now manage her relatives without feeling the least bit downtrodden. There is a good dose of melodrama in the story, but it wouldn’t be an LMM novel without it. Thwarted loves and misalliances abound, but they are in the background and serve to counter Pat’s own level-headed attitude towards marriage. A few scenes are also quite saddening, particularly in the final chapters when Pat must face the inevitable loss of several dear friends. Nevertheless, Pat’s is a hopeful and optimistic story, though bittersweet at times, and I feel very glad to have found copies of these two wonderful books.