Emily of Deep Valley: A Deep Valley Bookby Maud Hart Lovelace
“There are three authors whose body of work I have reread more than once over my adult life: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Maud Hart Lovelace.”
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“I re-read these books every year, marveling at how a world so quaint—shirtwaists! Pompadours! Merry Widow hats!—can feature a heroine who is undeniably modern.” —Laura Lippman
“There are three authors whose body of work I have reread more than once over my adult life: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Maud Hart Lovelace.” —Anna Quindlen
Often considered Maud Hart Lovelace’s best novel, Emily of Deep Valley is now back in print. This gorgeous volume includes a new foreword by acclaimed young adult author Mitali Perkins, and compelling historical material about the real people who inspired Lovelace’s beloved characters. Emily of Deep Valley joins the Harper Perennial Modern Classics library next to other enduring favorites like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books.
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The Last Day of High School
“It's the last day of high school . . . ever,” Annette said.
She said it gaily, swinging Emily's hand and pulling her about so that they faced the red brick building with its tall arched windows and doors, its elaborate limestone trimming, its bulging turrets and the cupola that made an ironical dunce's cap on top of all. Annette threw a kiss at it, then lifted her right hand and opened and shut the fingers in a playful wave.
“Good-by, old jail!” she said.
“Don't you dare call the Deep Valley High School a jail!” Emily's tone was joking but there was warmth in it, too. “Besides, we'll be coming back for Class Day!”
“It won't be the same!” Annette tilted her little dark head on which a complicated structure of puffs and curls was protected by a net and held in place by a ribbon. She smiled up engagingly. “You're sorry, aren't you, Em?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I'm not, a bit. That's funny, isn't it? When I've had so much more . . . that is, when I've had so much fun here.”
Emily knew what she had started to say . . . “When I've had so much more fun than you have.” It was true that Annette had been a belle, and Emily certainly hadn't. But she loved the high school more than Annette possibly could.
“I've been happy here,” she said.
It had been a refuge for her. Staring up at the cupola roof, outlined against the blue May sky, she thought affectionately of the hubbub in the Social Room at noon intermission . . . so different from the brooding silence of her home. She thought of the fun she had had with the girls, of the companionship she had known in classrooms, ofthe joyful challenge she had found in debating on the Assembly Room platform. Emily was on the star debating team which had won the Southern Minnesota Championship for two years running. And there had been parties, too, like last night's Junior-Senior banquet.
“Wasn't the banquet wonderful?” she asked, as she and Annette started down Walnut Street. The high school stood on the corner of Walnut and High. Walnut descended a steep hill, following terraced lawns. There were snowy drifts of bridal wreath around almost all the houses, and birds were as busy as seniors, full of talk and song.
“Marvelous!” answered Annette. “Of course . . .” she laughed contentedly, “I had my hands full. Did you notice how sulky Jim Baxter was because I came with Don?”“I certainly did.”
“Did you really have fun?” Annette looked pleased but puzzled. And Emily knew that she couldn't understand why the Junior-Senior banquet had seemed wonderful to Emily when she hadn't even come with a boy.
But it had. The familiar battered halls transformed by bunting, flags and balloons; the dinner, formally served by excited junior girls; the speeches by Miss Bangeter, the principal, and by the junior and senior class presidents'Hunter Sibley of the Class of 1912 had done a wonderful job. And the dancing! That had been best of all!
Emily didn't go to many high school dances. It wasn't customary to go unless a boy invited you. But even unattached girls came to the Junior-Senior banquet, and it had been thrilling to hear the music of piano and violin and to join the maze of rhythmically moving figures.
She had danced a number of times'with Hunter, and other class officers; she was treasurer of the class. Moreover, Don Walker had danced with her.
He had done it, probably, because he had come with Annette, who was Emily's second cousin. But it had seemed a breathless boon to Emily that she should dance with Don before high school was over'closed like the covers of a book that could never be read again no matter how much one might wish to do so. They were on the debating team together, and she had a special feeling for him.
Tall and rangy in ankle-length skirts, her curly hair woven into a braid which was turned up with a ribbon, Emily walked smilingly beside her pretty cousin. Annette was so small that she often made Emily feel hulking, and Annette was so pretty'with her sparkling eyes and staccato birdlike movements'that she always made Emily feel plain. Emily wasn't plain, exactly, but her face was serious. She was shy and quiet, although her blue eyes, set in a thicket of lashes under heavy brows, often glinted with fun. Both boys and girls liked her.
“Emily isn't a lemon,” she had once overheard Annette say heatedly. Annette and Gladys Dunn had been planning some boy and girl party in the cloakroom and Emily had stumbled in. She had escaped without being seen, but she had never forgotten Annette's blunt defense of her.
It was true, she decided later. She wasn't what the high school called a lemon. But she had never learned to joke and flirt with boys. Or perhaps boys just didn't joke and flirt with a girl who lived with her grandfather in a funny old house across the slough.
Walnut crossed Broad Street and Second and went on to Front, the business thoroughfare, which paralleled the river. The girls were nearing Front when they heard a clatter behind them and the sound of shoe leather sliding along the cement walk.
“Hi, there! Wait!”
They turned to see handsome Hunter Sibley and Ellen, his girl, hand in hand, along with Fred Muller and Scid Edwards and Don. At the sight of Don's tall erect figure Emily felt the small tumult which he always created in her heart.
“How about stopping at Heinz's?” called Scid. “Celebrate the last day of school?”Annette smiled at Don. “But Em and I have to try on our graduating dresses.”
“And Hunter has to practise his oration in the Opera House,” put in Ellen, sounding proud.
“Me, too,” said Don. “I'm a bright boy, too.” He had a deep resonant voice.“How about you, Em?” asked Hunter.
“I'm practising mine tomorrow.”
“You Honor Roll people!” jibed Scid. “You walking encyclopedias! You grinds!”
Hunter grinned. “Don and I could meet you at Heinz's afterward,” he said. “Even intellectual giants like us eat ice cream; don't they, Emily?”Emily of Deep Valley. Copyright © by Maud Lovelace. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980) based her Betsy-Tacy series on her own childhood. Her series still boasts legions of fans, many of whom are members of the Betsy-Tacy Society, a national organization based in Mankato, Minnesota.
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In Deep Valley, Minnesota, orphan Emily Webster lives with her Grandpa Webster. Like other girls in the class of 1912 at the high school she attends and now graduating, she has dreams of going to college. However, she not only owes her elderly relative for taking her in, she feels strongly that she must not leave her beloved Grandpa Webster alone; thus she remains outside of the Crowd. Although she expects a cold "lost winter" Emily vows to keep active. She works hard studying and is fascinated with the culture of the nearby Syrian community. However, it is the new high school teacher Jed Wakeman who has Emily dreaming once again of being all that she can be. One of the three Deep Valley stand alone stories (see Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart), Emily's tale is a reprint of a warm Americana tale. Emily is a fabulous individual who initially feels sorry for herself but comes out of her funk when she decides to make herself a better person while she suffers through the "lost winter" as her few friends go to college. Jed is a nice person studying for his Masters in sociology. However it is the "bad boy" Don Walker who danced with Emily and somewhat steals the show with his scorning intelligence as he purposely butchers Browning and his mocking speech at high school commencement. With humor and pathos Maud Hart Lovelace brings to life the seemingly innocence of 1912 Minnesota when a teen smoking a cigarette means juvenile delinquent. Harriet Klausner
This is a must read for women of all ages... You will be inspired by Emily Webster's triumph over depression and circumstance.
I'm dancing with delight at the reissue of one of my favorite books of all time! I've loved this book since I first read my sister's copy back in the early 1960s. Emily's despair at the beginning of the book at not being able to go on to college after high school, how she "muster's her wits" to find her own way and find joy in her life again, as well as meeting Mr. Jed are a compelling story beautifully written. I've pre-ordered my copy of these wonderful reissues with the original cover art by Vera Neville.
I have read this book so many times, I've lost count. Each time I read it, it touches my heart. Emily lives in early 20th century Deep Valley. She is almost an outsider with her classmates. After her high school graduation, she strives to make up what she's lost by not going to college. Read it and you will feel like a different person.
I totally love this book!!! This is a great book by a great author.