I love when Montgomery drops you into the middle of a family gathering and leaves you to get your bearings and try to keep up. She writes the clannishness of large families so well, and you can always be sure that her characters will cover the range of every possible personality. No matter how crazy the personality or the situation, it always feels plausible in Montgomery’s capable hands.
A Tangled Web is full of wonderful characters. Roger is consistent with his sweet presence, with absolutely no red flags of pressure or expectations. Gay is at times frustrating but always honest with her naive view on life and love. Margaret’s acceptance of her dull life despite her desperate wish for a home and a baby. Moon Man appears at the exact right moment with his insightful commentary and wandering spirit. All thrown together with plenty of not-so-wonderful gossipy self-serving characters.
It’s lovely to see that instalove was alive and well in the 1930s, though, showing up twice(!) in A Tangled Web. As usual, Montgomery has to one-up everyone and show them how instalove is done – one look is all it takes in these situations. In the end, it just ends up causing heartbreak, lost time, and stupid, inflamed reactions. If Montgomery can’t do it, no one will ever convince me this is a legitimate (or believable) plot device.
Oh, I thought I was going to make it – I was so optimistic, but I should have known better than to hope that we’d make it through a book from this time without some form of racism. I suppose it’s good the only openly racist comment happened in the very last paragraph, but it’s certainly not the ideal note to end on.
I love Montgomery’s writing, and A Tangled Web is prototypical of her best, especially as a standalone. I grew up loving her series (both Anne of Green Gables and Emily), so it’s nice to read one of her standalones for the first time and be transported back into her beautifully written world for a short visit. While the families and the settings may be different, they all leave a similar feeling of nostalgia and satisfaction.