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Deep Valley #2

Emily of Deep Valley

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Welcome back to Deep Valley! Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can't leave her grandfather. Emily resigns herself to facing a lost winter, but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed...

In addition to her beloved Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace wrote three more stories set in the fictional town of Deep Valley: Winona's Pony Cart, Carney's House Party, and Emily of Deep Valley, Longtime fans and new readers alike will be delighted to find the Deep Valley books available again for the first time in many years.

304 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1950

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About the author

Maud Hart Lovelace

42 books671 followers
Maud Hart Lovelace was born on April 25, 1892, in Mankato, Minnesota. She was the middle of three children born to Thomas and Stella (Palmer) Hart. Her sister, Kathleen, was three years older, and her other sister, Helen, was six years younger. “That dear family" was the model for the fictional Ray family.

Maud’s birthplace was a small house on a hilly residential street several blocks above Mankato’s center business district. The street, Center Street, dead-ended at one of the town’s many hills. When Maud was a few months old, the Hart family moved two blocks up the street to 333 Center.

Shortly before Maud’s fifth birthday a “large merry Irish family" moved into the house directly across the street. Among its many children was a girl Maud’s age, Frances, nicknamed Bick, who was to be Maud’s best friend and the model for Tacy Kelly.

Tib’s character was based on another playmate, Marjorie (Midge) Gerlach, who lived nearby in a large house designed by her architect father. Maud, Bick, and Midge became lifelong friends. Maud once stated that the three couldn’t have been closer if they’d been sisters.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 318 reviews
Profile Image for kris.
940 reviews193 followers
October 24, 2020
[2020 Review]: It felt very appropriate to revisit Emily in these current climes--someone who, I think, captures the isolation and loneliness and loss. Still one of the books that feels too familiar and too close.

[2014 Review]: There are some books that just matter to you, you know? You finish them and feel gutted and raw and exposed and maybe a bit bitter that you've spent so much time without that book in your life.

I've read all of the Betsy-Tacy books now, and I've loved them whole-heartedly. But I've never connected with Betsy or Winona or Carnie. I never fully engaged with their easiness, the way they always had a "Crowd", the way they fit in. I was an Emily, yearning and wanting and always a little apart.

And I haven't encountered a lot of books that capture that loneliness so well. That sense of isolation and "lost years" and hurt. That lowness, and the spiraling, and sense of spinning wheels and waiting. But Emily of Deep Valley does, I think.
She read avidly, indiscriminately, using them as an antidote for the pain in her heart. But they didn't help much. There was no one to talk them over with.
My copy is all marked up already. There are just so many good passages to quote and to feel.
She felt lonely and deserted and futile. "A mood like this has to be fought. it's like an enemy with a gun," she told herself. But she couldn't seem to find a gun with which to fight.
Profile Image for E.L..
Author 8 books39 followers
March 15, 2012
There were two books that sustained me the most during my first year of marriage - a year when everything was changing, I had moved away from everything and everyone I knew, and I was post-school but pre-job or -kids, when my new husband was working long hours and I had huge spaces of time just by myself, wondering what my purpose was. One book was The Blue Castle, by LM Montgomery. The other was this book, Emily of Deep Valley. The questions and struggles Emily endured, the feeling of something ended without something else starting, the need to "muster her wits" and make her own path ... it all provided such encouragement and hope to my lonely soul!

I love that Emily's love story is secondary to her own self-discovery, that it provides a counterpoint to the lessons she is learning throughout her "lost year" but does not overshadow them. I love that Lovelace is not afraid to go against tradition - we are never sure if her heroines are going to end up with their first loves or with somebody new (in Lovelace's world, Anne Shirley and Roy Gardiner might very well have ended up more suitable to each other than Anne and Gilbert, shocking though that may seem!). I love that throughout everything she does is a thread of love and devotion to her grandfather, and never once is it suggested that she is wasting her life by staying with him. And I have to admit, I love all the descriptions of the clothes from back then!

It is an old-fashioned story, but Emily is a heroine for all ages.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,335 reviews
June 7, 2020
Oh, how I love this book! I finished it with such a glow of joy. It left a song in my heart that just wants to burst forth, an anthem to be and do good in the world. I wish everyone could read this, especially now.

It is uncanny how this story came into my life at the exact perfect moment. After reading Betsy’s high school years as a cheerful antidote to quarantine life earlier this spring, I enjoyed Carney’s House Party and wondered if I should pause longer before reading Emily. Yet, something compelled me to pick it up. I found in Emily not only a kindred spirit, with many thoughts and feelings I could relate to, but also a heroine to admire and inspire.

In an uncanny coincidence, I found myself reading the chapter about Decoration Day on Memorial Day! It so poignantly and beautifully renders the true meaning of the day (I sometimes bristle at the way it has, in recent years, become merely a holiday to kick off summer fun or nab some good sales) and I found my eyes flooding with tears as I read.

Emily’s sense of loss, her bouts of depression at being unable to move forward with the kind of life she would have wished for herself in college, being left behind to care for her grandfather while all her high school chums moved on to college… how apt I found this while reading it, several months into the coronavirus pandemic, so many goals and plans on hold, so many questions about the future… Yet, Emily’s courageous and generous spirit overcomes her “slough of despond” and she moves forward, first to better herself, and then to better the world. What a heroine for our times!

I found myself getting a little impatient in some of the earlier chapters. Don annoyed me the moment he appeared and Emily was so wise beyond her years in so many ways, I just wanted her schoolgirl heart to catch up and wake up. Yet, it was impossible to feel anything but empathy for her and for her situation. More than empathy, admiration, even – for, while she may lament her situation, she never was anything but loving toward and grateful for her grandfather (and, oh, how I loved him, too!) Some of the early chapters were hard to read, I was not used to melancholy from Lovelace, but she simply and masterfully brought us into Emily’s feelings and it is so right that we begin there.

When Emily “Mustered Her Wits” I was elated, energized, inspired. I love that she took responsibility for herself, that she sought to change herself when she couldn’t change her situation. I felt such a kindred spirit in Emily, in the way she was more comfortable with the “older crowd.” I loved the way some of the old crowd from Betsy’s years came into play (I wanted to hug Cab!) It was even a delightful surprise when Betsy herself appeared in one chapter. I couldn’t help but think of our current situation, when so many of us are isolated from our normal doings and plans, when Betsy spoke of the “lost year” when she had to miss college and spend time recovering from illness at her grandmother’s in California: “That ‘lost year’ gave me a chance to do some thinking. I got acquainted with myself, I found myself, out there in California. It's hard to explain.” Emily turns her “loss” into remarkable gains, too. I especially love how she learns she can educate herself without having to attend college, that true learning can be done anywhere, and is a lifelong process. I love that, along the way, she learns to surround herself with people who appreciate her for who she is and who uplift her, rather than those who make her feel inferior or tear her down.

While Emily begins to blossom and thrive when she begins to broaden her interests, looking toward attainable goals for the future and not impossible dreams or a vanished past, she finds her deepest joy and fulfillment when she begins to think of, and do for, others. Her interest in the Syrians, first beginning with a spontaneous kindness, a genuine outpouring of sympathy and a disdain for prejudice, is quickly kindled into something much greater as she longs to help the Syrians become better accepted and appreciated in Deep Valley (where they often experience prejudice) and to help them with their dreams of “Americanization.” Lovelace handles this with a grace, sensitivity and broadmindedness rarely seen in the early 1900s, and I was so proud of her when “Webster Talks a Few.” It is bittersweet that many people today could still learn lessons from a book that was written 60 years ago and takes place over 100 years ago. That an eighteen year old girl, who once felt incapable of even shaping her own destiny, could do so much good in the lives of others, is wonderful and inspiring. (And I haven’t even mentioned how much I love Mr. Jed! Though he appears in so few chapters, he is undoubtedly one of my top literary crushes!) Highly, highly recommended!
Profile Image for Emily.
893 reviews149 followers
June 17, 2017
Emily Webster is my hero. She is at once an unabashed flag-waving patriot, and a passionate advocate for Syrian refugees.

This is, I think, my third reading of this book, but the first in a good long while. I had thought I remembered it pretty well, but it turned out there were lots of details I hadn't remembered, such as how great Cab (a minor character from the main series) is in this book. And also that Betsy makes an appearance. I had also forgotten just how sad the first half of the book is, but I remembered quite accurately that it becomes really wonderful. It almost (but not quite) makes me want to take up a volume of Browning and Herndon's Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life.
Profile Image for Kellyn Roth.
Author 27 books907 followers
February 7, 2018
Reread 2/7/18:
I like it even more, if that is possible! It's just such a good book. Also, it's a message I needed just now - "Muster your wits!"

Original Read August 2016:

I'm not sure whether I like Betsy and Joe or this book better. I honestly can't decide. :)

Anyway, the early 1900s (Edwardian) is my favorite era due to the Betsy-Tacy series ... and I suppose it has a certain charm of its own, too. This is just the best book ever and if you haven't read it, read it, and if you have read it, read it again! And again! And again! :D

Read the review here.

~Kellyn Roth, Reveries Reviews
Profile Image for Luisa Knight.
2,823 reviews806 followers
November 8, 2022
Oh, I love Emily! What a sweet character. She's warm and caring, and possesses enough spunky spirit that she tries to overcome her shyness in order to mingle, not just to benefit herself but to benefit others too. I could sympathize with her when she felt directionally lost (I appreciated how Lovelace showcased a beautiful lesson here), cheered her on while she worked at self-discipline and I was in anxious anticipation as to which man would win her heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Deep Valley book, and loved how Lovelace worked in my favorite characters from the Betsy-Tacy books.


Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 16 Incidents: "sergeant gives you Billy H*ll," heck, Bully, darned, darn, pooh, dickens, shucks

Religious Profanities - 14 Incidents: Gosh, Gee, Thank God, Gee whiz, Oh Lord, ye Gods, Be Gorrah!,Heaven knows, thank goodness

Derogatory Terms - 4 Incidents: "cock of the walk", Dago

Sexual Content
Lust - 2 Incident: Emily has had a crush on a young man in her high school for many years now.
Girls discuss some of the merits of some of the high school boys they know.

Making Out/Sex - 8 Incidents: In a play, a boy kisses a girl. Two couples sing and caress each other.
A couple ice skate "arms crossed and hands clasped." A man holds a lady's arm closely, helping her walk across a rough patch. After bringing her home, a man leans down suddenly, "took her cheeks between his hands and kissed her." A man takes a lady's hand in his. "When they walked he held her arm in a firm protective clasp. And she thought he felt what she did when their hands touched. But she couldn't be sure." When a man proposes, he takes the lady's hand, they embrace and kiss.

Sexual Miscellaneous - 6 Incidents: Characters often go to dances throughout the book. "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." "A cheerful, big-bosomed old lady." Mentions a corset cover and petticoat. The word “breast” and "bosom" are used - not sexual. She "caught Emily to her queenly bosom."

Conversation Topics - 2 Incidents: This book has many guys and girls going out together, having beaus, learning how to be a little attractive, dancing and thinking guys are handsome. (Book takes place in the early 1900s). Mentions a few characters smoking a pipe or cigarette.

**Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I provide a Cleanliness Report, mentioning any objectionable content I come across so that parents and/or conscientious readers (like me) can determine beforehand whether they want to read a book or not. Content surprises are super annoying, especially when you’re 100+ pages in, so here’s my attempt to help you avoid that!

So Follow or Friend me here on GoodReads! And be sure to check out my bio page to learn a little about me and the Picture Book/Chapter Book Calendars I sell on Etsy!
Profile Image for Teri-K.
2,109 reviews47 followers
March 10, 2018
Such a good book! I'd give it 12 stars if I could! To me it's the perfect kind of story, about real people living simple but meaningful lives, dealing with struggles and joys and trying to find their way through it all.

I discovered this author and her Betsy-Tacy books when I was in grade school. Our small school library had most of the series and every fall when we went back to school I'd reread them all. I wanted to be Betsy Ray, growing up in Minnesota at the turn of the century. I wanted her warm, loving family and dear friends, her adventures and failures and loves. But about all we had in common was that we both loved to read and dreamed of being writers when we grew up. Still I've always been devoted to those books and when I had a daughter I named her Betsy. :) I didn't find out Lovelace had written other books until much later, and I've still not been able to read them all, as some are quite hard to find. I own this in the original hardback, and am happy to see it available in ebook, too, with the charming original chapter illustrations!

Emily of Deep Valley is a girl a bit younger than Betsy, growing up in the same town, who lives a very different life; it's a different style of book but still delightful. Unlike Betsy, Emily doesn't have a warm family circle. Instead she lives with her loving grandfather, and that's it. She also doesn't have a wide circle of friends, being a shy, quiet girl who lives on the fringes of her class. She's an excellent student, though, and the only girl on the High School champion debate team. Like a lot of very good girls, Emily has a bit of a crush on a popular boy who isn't all that nice. In this book we see her cope with High School graduation, staying behind while most everyone else goes on to college. How she implements the values of her favorite role model, Jane Adams, and finds her own place in the world is a sweet, clean, delightful story. I'm happy that it's now available in e-book form, so fans don't have to track down a hoarded copy to read it. Because I'm giving all my hardback copies to my own Betsy. :)

Profile Image for Bookworm.
343 reviews52 followers
May 5, 2018
This is, by far, my favorite out of all of Lovelace's books! It's a in depth story of a young woman coming into her own, and realizing that she can gain education and purpose right in her quiet home town. Watching Emily spread her wings really inspired and moved me, and the ending is just the cherry on top!
Profile Image for Kate Howe.
267 reviews
January 22, 2022
There is so much to love about this book! This is a book for anyone who has felt forgotten or excluded. This is also a book where our main character can choose to be a victim or a hero and she chooses the latter. I am only sad that it's as short as it is but now I'm just excited to read the final two Betsy books.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,997 reviews1,634 followers
September 15, 2015
This book has a . . . mood or presence that simply permeates it in a way that I expect is powerful for those who connect strongly to it. The sense of isolation from your crowd, of wanting to belong even while knowing it is impossible and, worse, existing on a fringe where you are accepted and welcome but still just that wee bit off is extremely strong in this book and conveyed with an understanding and depth that is very evocative.

I had a couple problems connecting to the book, though, and not any of them the obvious ones. Two problems, to be specific. First, and most significantly, Emily's experience is very close to my own but with an important and significant difference that made it difficult for me to relate. Moving around as much as I did in my childhood meant that I know something of existence on the fringe. So in that way, it was very like. But for whatever reason, I just didn't care that much about being on the fringe and was content with doing my own thing. So Emily's concerns are familiar, and yet completely alien at the same time. I think being that close and yet off kept me from connecting more than if I had been closer to the poles of popularity (and yes, I'm conscious of how deeply ironic that is given the book is about being so close and yet off).

The second problem is Don. That guy was a complete poo and Emily's obsession with him diminished her. Further, I think Lovelace showed exactly how much it did so very clearly and that Emily couldn't see it was a little maddening. He didn't deserve the time of day from her and that she considered herself in love with him was simply silly. And it persisted for freaking ever.

The book isn't helped by the distance in time or , either. Some of the customs and language are enough foreign, now, that it takes a conscious adjustment to meet it half-way. That may actually play in the book's favor, though, as coming that much out of your customary thought patterns may make living in that world a bit easier when all's said. Which is why I chalk that displacement up as a wash.

Anyway, all the personal foibles aside, I liked the book and found it entertaining—so much so that I'm up way too late for the second night in a row despite all my best intentions. It's enough foreign and I'm enough disconnected that it's a "like" as opposed to a "really like" but that's a subjective call that I acknowledge is coming from a personal space. Lovelace is incredibly good at evoking the deeply internal lives of her characters, even in a time when big personal/historical exposition dumps were much more acceptable/common. You can see why her stories have persisted so long, despite a century of distance from her frame of reference. Well, that and they're awesome people that you'd just love to have as friends...
Profile Image for Lisbeth Solberg.
666 reviews3 followers
July 16, 2011
This book makes me want to put my hair up in a psyche knot and coach Syrians in ESL.
Profile Image for Rae.
106 reviews67 followers
January 28, 2022
This was my introduction to Lovelace’s writing, and what an introduction it was! We follow Emily through her ‘lost winter,’ as she comes to terms with being left at home caring for her grandfather whilst all her peers have gone off to college.

Emily is such a wonderful protagonist. This is a storyline which could have been all sweetness and froth, but to which hidden, rooted depths are revealed by Emily’s rounded, serious, relatable character.

‘Restfully quiet’ and often shy and awkward around her peers, she’s nonetheless an excellent debater. Emily displays something I don’t often see writers exploring: the ways in which we can tap into a deep well of confidence in some scenarios yet be completely unable to draw from it in others.

At times battling depression, an enemy against which she ‘couldn’t seem to find a gun with which to fight,’ Emily is someone who feels life deeply, who cares about living it honourably and well. It’s a joy to see her ‘muster her wits’ and stand in her own defence. I care for her deeply, just as I care for that fragile part of myself which I see represented in her.

There are winters of loneliness, of uncertainty, of hopelessness in all of our lives. This book looks them full in the face and acknowledges them. It also reminds us that we will pull through, and there are things we can do to help ourselves when life begins to get us down. Loneliness can be fought with acts of kindness, uncertainty with taking charge of our choices, hopelessness tackled in seemingly small steps, like putting up our hair and starting dance classes.

I know I will draw strength from this story for the rest of my life. 5 stars
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,174 reviews187 followers
December 13, 2019
The second of Maud Hart Lovelace's Deep Valley books - tangentially related to her immensely popular ten-installment Betsy-Tacy series, which is centered upon the same fictional Minnesota town - Emily of Deep Valley was originally published in 1950, and depicts a year in the life of a young woman of 1912/13. Unlike Carney's House Party , another of the Deep Valley books, its heroine plays no part in the storyline of the main series, and - although Betsy Ray and Winona Root do make very brief appearances - the story is the most independent of any of Lovelace's books that I have read thus far (only Winona's Pony Cart left!).

A quiet, reserved girl, Emily Webster always felt a little "out of things," particularly when it came to boys. Included in all of her cousin Annette's parties, she was well-liked, but not popular. When the Class of 1912 graduated from Deep Valley High School, and almost all of her peers headed off to college - whether at the state university in Minneapolis, West Point Military Academy, or Vassar College in the east - Emily was a little lost. She loved her Grandpa Webster, the kindly old Civil War veteran who had raised her, and was happy to take care of him, but also longed to continue her education, and to follow in the footsteps of her hero, social reformer Jane Addams.

But as the saying goes, "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window," and Emily soon found herself continuing her education less formally, right in Deep Valley. Learning about Abraham Lincoln, while reading with her grandfather, studying the poetry of Robert Browning, in a small group set up with Miss Fowler, and becoming involved in social reform, through her friendship with the Syrian immigrants living in Deep Valley, Emily was soon as active as she could have hoped. Despite the absence of so many of her friends, her social also life began to improve, as she attended some dances with Cab Edwards (another Betsy-Tacy favorite!), and formed a friendship with the new Deep Valley High School teacher, southerner Jed Wakeman.

Emily of Deep Valley offers an immensely engaging story, in a setting I have come to love! I found myself wondering, as I read it, whether it too was based on Maud Hart Lovelace's life (I know most of the Betsy~Tacy books were), or if Emily was a completely "original" creation. In any case, I loved the story, I loved the characters, and I appreciated some of the social observations, from Grandpa's Webster's Civil War reminisces, to the depiction of the mistrust and prejudice with which the Syrians had to contend. If everything was wrapped up a little too easily, thanks to Emily's immense debating talent, I was nevertheless willing to go along...
Profile Image for Beth Bonini.
1,303 reviews281 followers
June 8, 2017
I never came across this companion book to the Betsy-Tacy series when I was a young teenager, and I wonder if I would have loved it as much as a 13 year old reader as I did as a middle-aged one? Emily does not have the effervescence of personality - or the fun-loving friends and family - which characterise Betsy Ray, and contribute to so much of the charm of those books. She is a much quieter heroine, and the book details her struggles with feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and depression. For much of the book, Emily lets herself be in the background - for almost everyone except her grandfather, who is in her care. She lets her friends ignore and dismiss her; she lets a narcissistic boy take advantage of her kindness; and she lets herself feel limited by her own horizons. But for a certain kind of reader, I think that Emily is absolutely the perfect heroine. She has her own strengths and convictions, and when she manages to 'muster her wits', she finds both a sense of purpose and happiness in her life. I admired Emily very much, and was completely delighted by the happy ending she finds for herself.

This book, set in 1912-3, has a wonderful sense of period detail: not just in clothes and furnishings, but also in terms of key events in American history. Emily's grandfather is a veteran of the Civil War, and I was very interested to read about how the federal holiday styled now as "Memorial Day" was celebrated at the turn of the 20th century. Another interesting historical figure is Jane Addams, the pioneer social worker, who inspires Emily. Lovelace has a distinctive way of imparting life lessons, and in that sense, I think this book is one of her very best.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,102 reviews132 followers
March 18, 2012
Emily's just graduated from high school, but unlike everyone else in her class, she's not going to college (or, as some are doing, getting married). Instead, she's going to stay at home to take care of her grandfather. She tries hard not to get upset about it, but it's difficult. All she wants to do is go to college and keep learning. Still, she loves her grandfather---he raised her after her mom died---and she's happy to be able to take care of him now.

Except that it's also kind of awful. All her friends are gone, and when they come back (for Thanksgiving and Christmas), they have stories that she can't relate to at all. (Also, as a side note? Her friends are kind of awful.)

This is very different from the other Deep Valley books. Betsy and Carney are incredibly outgoing, but Emily is shy and seems to be comfortable with only a few people. It's nice to watch her come out of her shell throughout the course of the book.

While Emily spends most of the early chapters in varying states of misery, she ends up figuring out how to do everything. Granted, she can't go to college, but she CAN start a group that will study together. Also, to her credit, the easiest way to get to college---ditching her grandfather---isn't even an option. It's not like she thinks about it and decides not to do it; it's not even on the table. Ever. Even when he suggests that maybe she'd want to leave Deep Valley.

I'm going to miss this series more than you know. If you haven't read them, it's not too late. They're wonderful.
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,035 reviews332 followers
June 14, 2020
Emily of Deep Valley may not be technically part of the Betsy-Tacy series, but along with Betsy and Joe, it's my favorite of all of the books.

It features a heroine who is, unlike Betsy, not really part of the in-crowd. Emily is intelligent and well-spoken, but introverted, and much of the book is about her adjustment to life after high school without her crowd of friends, who have all gone away to college. I love extroverted Betsy, but introverted autodidact Emily speaks to me in a more personally familiar way.
105 reviews
July 28, 2007
This is the best companion book to the Betsy-Tacy series, as well as being a terrific "stand alone" book if you are unfortunate enough to not be acquainted with B-T. I believe I read that this is Lovelace's fave of all the books she wrote, and I can understand why. It's pretty fab.
Profile Image for Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words).
395 reviews961 followers
November 4, 2019
I loved Emily's story so much! I love Betsy Ray, OF COURSE, but Emily is in some ways a more sympathetic character. She has more obstacles in her way, more to overcome, and she's not as socially popular as Emily. So, in many ways it made her story more compelling. I loved her devotion to her grandfather, her social conscience that led her to advocate on behalf of the Syrians in her community and helped along her growth from girl to woman. What a wonderful, wonderful story!
Profile Image for Mitali.
Author 22 books515 followers
August 19, 2019
It was one of the highest honors in my writing life to be asked to write the foreword for this new edition. I adore EMILY and always will.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
505 reviews89 followers
January 11, 2022
In the first few chapters, I considered DNFing this book, because it just seemed a bit too saccharine for me. But once the other kids go off to college, this book turns into something beautiful. I loved how the author packed some tough issues in, while portraying strength, kindness and character in the main character.

I loved Emily’s growth as she learns to be content where she is and that she doesn’t need a college degree to make a difference and change the world around her. I also loved her realization that her connection with her fellow classmates was superficial at best. She realized it was okay to grow apart from people, not be so dependent and wishing to fit in, but to find your people/community, because they’re out there!

I wasn’t expecting this book to tackle racism and immigration, but it did and I loved Emily’s love for the Syrians.

(Next part is spoiler-y)

This book also portrays extremely unhealthy, manipulative relationships and shows Emily realizing how a certain character just puts her down to make himself higher. I’ve seen some reviewers say they were frustrated with how she didn’t get over him sooner, but I think it was realistic. Abusers often keep their victims strung along for a while and so it wasn’t easy for Emily to break free of believing what he told her and being in love with him. He knew how to give her just enough attention to keep her strung along and then enjoyed completely ignoring her to keep her miserable and believing she was less than. I cheered when she told him she didn’t think of him at all! Emily deserved so much better than him. When he went away to college and she didn’t, it created the space needed for her to break free from him.

In short (or long 😜), I wasn’t expecting to love this book nearly as much as I did. It wasn’t at all too sweet, but handled tough issues head on and had the best possible ending ❤️
Profile Image for Melissa.
420 reviews76 followers
January 20, 2022
What a delightful novel! I can see why this is a favorite of many Maud Hart Lovelace fans. It's such a warm-hearted and uplifting story, and Emily Webster is a very real character. To me, at least, she's easier to relate to than social butterfly Betsy Ray, much as I love Betsy. Emily's insecurity and feeling of being always on the outer fringes of her group of friends, her social awkwardness around young men, her uncertainty about what her future holds - I'm sure a lot of girls know how that feels. I love all the growth she does and the changes she makes over the course of the story, as she learns that life is what you make of it, even when what you really want -- a college education, in Emily's case -- isn't within your grasp.

There are so many loveable characters in the novel - Emily's Civil War soldier grandfather, Cab Edwards who features in the main Betsy-Tacy series, darling schoolteacher Jed Wakeman, who is the nicest, most wonderful guy, and the Syrian families she befriends and for whom she advocates, especially cuties Kalil, Yusef, and Layla. Emily's awful crush Don, however, can go jump in a lake! Emily's final scene with him was so satisfying.

Maud Hart Lovelace's writing is comforting, full of genuine emotion and a community that always comes to life and becomes so real. Deep Valley, Minnesota is a wonderful place - I was happy to spend some more time there through this book, and happy to make a new book friend in Emily.
Profile Image for Christaaay .
379 reviews182 followers
January 27, 2022
Emily loves school and learning and she dreams of going to college like all of her friends. But she and her grandfather are alone in the world and she can't think of leaving him behind; so she stays in the town of her upbringing. Depression and loneliness take their toll on her spirits, and she "keeps learning as an antidote to her pain." Her attitude gives her the chance to find a new community that appreciates her.

I love how Emily is portrayed as a born sociologist without the author ever saying so; but her observations make it clear. I also love the themes of community building, caring for the elderly. Emily cares for herself AND continues to lovingly care for her grandfather by finding healthy sources of joy (shared and individual) right where she is. She has a talent for nurturing those who might otherwise be left out, partially bc she has experienced it. She even stays informed politically. She's just a lovely, strong character without being a loud, brash modern "heroine."

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Profile Image for Susann.
716 reviews42 followers
January 9, 2015
Re-read for November VSC. Still think Jed is written as a too good to be true guy, but oh well. I am firmly convinced that the engaged–practically! situation will wither away before it becomes real engagement.

Love this line which could be in a screenplay for the rom-com version:
"Miss Bangeter, casting off dignity for once, caught Emily to her queenly bosom."

1-16-2006. I know I've read it since then, but where are my records?
Profile Image for Libby Ames.
1,477 reviews43 followers
July 8, 2008
This book is a little old-fashioned, but so refreshing. Compared to the current books for the 9-12 year old girls, this one is uplifting and motivating. It definitely doesn't have the intense plotline of more modern children's books, but is still an engaging story. Also, like the Little House on the Prairie books, it gives good insight to the culture of America (just set in the early 1900's).
Profile Image for Jamie.
256 reviews
August 9, 2022
This book deserves more stars. It’s so lovely and it also makes you think.
Everyone should read it.
I wish Maud Hart Lovelace was talked about more. Her books are absolute classics.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
781 reviews41 followers
September 6, 2023
I am so glad I finally read this lovely story. I adore the Betsy-Tacy books so it was fun to return to their world but with a new and fresh main character. I liked Emily as a character though I sometimes found her infatuation with Don a little much. And while it rang true that she would feel as she did for him, I did want her to just get over it.

What I did really appreciate was how she took charge of her circumstances. Unable to attend college as all of her friends are, she initially succumbs to a depression but she figures a way out of it herself by finding ways to continue to learn and grow. I found that such an admirable quality.

I may have given this 5 stars had I not read it on the heels of The Blue Castle which has a heroine who also takes her life and makes it into what she wants it to be but in a slightly more complex and dynamic way. But I did love returning to Deep Valley and Emily’s coming of age story was very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Alex Atlee.
46 reviews
September 24, 2022
If I wasn't borrowing this book, I would reread the book so many times that it would be falling apart, I fricken loved it
1,402 reviews25 followers
April 14, 2012

Favourite of Favourites! This is my favourite MHL. It just is is.

(I could almost end this review here, but I'm not going to.)

I started it, and Don was introduced, and I was all, "Who is this FOOL? Go away!"

And he took ever so long to do that. At first I had this horrible feeling that I was going to have to try to like him, but then HURRAH, not so much. Annette can have him. (P.S. this is the second book I have read where Annette is the popular cousin who snags the foolish, stupid boy away from her quieter cousin - good ridance. Interesting, yes? Particularly since the authors were roughly contemporary.)

I love Mr. Wakeman, and how he was introduced, and then she meets him at Mrs. Fowler's again. I am, however, heartily ashamed of myself for not realizing in advance that he was Mr. Jed. I love the Syrian boys, and how that comes about. Although, it was predictable, it's still lovely. I knew she'd end up teaching English in her house by the time the book was through. I love the Wrestling Club, I love her grandfather, he's charming and lovely. I love their traditions.

The Little Syria subplot was a long time coming, given that the author sowed the seeds in Betsy, Tacy and Tib. I guess this book was to be expected. Speaking of which, I love how Alice introduces Emily to the older crowd (parenthetically, Alice so needs her own book. I am intrigued). Love the return of Tib, Betsy (Ray's shoe store will always be Ray's) and Tacy, and the focus on Betsy's hair. I loved seeing them all, Fred and Cab, and the teachers, just everyone.

Oh, the teachers. I may be overly fond of the Deep Valley High school faculty. I love Miss Fowler in particular. HEE. And her matchmaking schemes. I apparently have a thing when it comes to the teachers shipping couples in this book. Because the teachers so obviously shipped Jed/Emily.

Which, Mr. Jed. He is so lovely and charming and perfect. He always regretted that he never got to hear her debate... He brings her daffodils. He likes to talk to her. It's all so sweet and lovely.

And I love Emily's growth, and how she talks to Betsy about it because they both had 'lost years.' (Although, is Betsy everyone's de facto confidante in these books?) The first section of this book, when she's all depressed about feeling left behind and also feeling like she doesn't quite fit in anywhere is very genuine. It's very well done.

So, to sum up, I love it all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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