2011: 77. A Tangled Web

"A dozen stories have been told about the old Dark jug.  This is the true one."

A Tangled Web, L.M. Montgomery

      This is one of Montgomery's later novels, and it tells the story of the old Dark jug, a family heirloom that everyone wants.  And who is everyone? Well, the Darks and the Penhallows, two families that have been intermarrying so long that the local saying is that there is no one for a Dark but a Penhallow, and no one for a Penhallow but a Dark.  The jug is currently in the possession of the clan matriarch, wicked old Aunt Becky, who rules the family through fear of her pointed tongue.  The novel opens with Aunt Becky holding on of her famous "levees" - family party/meetings, where she opines on some issue.  At this one she opens with a shocker - she's about to die.  The family can't believe it - they think she'll live forever - but she reads her will out loud, telling everyone what family heirlooms they'll inherit.  As for the jug, well, she has other plans.  They won't find out who gets it for a year after her death - and they won't find out the criteria for who gets it either, which throws the clan in a tizzy.

      The rest of the book is about how they react to her news - some people change their behaviors, some people quarrell, some people fall into love - some fall out of it.  It's maybe a little silly that a jug could be such a catalyst, but you'll forget that as you gorge on the crazy, proud, and fabulous Darks and Penhallows.  The various stories are great - slinky Nan and poor jilted Gay, the creepy Moon Man, defeated Margaret and orphaned Brian, quarrelsome Donna Dark and Peter Penhallow, tragic Naomi, whose husband has forgotten her since he came back shell-shocked from the war, and, the saddest of all, proud Joyce and bitter Hugh, who haven't spoken since she walked out of their bridal home on her wedding night.  All these people's lives are changed by the battle for the brown jug, and the story of how they do so is a delight.

     Most people, even people who grew up with Anne, haven't read A Tangled Web, but it is really an absolute gem. I highly recommend it.

Categories:  Fiction, L.M. Montgomery Project, Re-read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017