Pat of Silver Bush: Thoughts & Analysis
After promising to do so in my last blog post, it is finally time to post my brief analysis on the Pat Gardiner series by L.M. Montgomery! I’m excited to share my thoughts on these wonderful books. 🙂 (A warning: This post will include a few spoilers, so if you have not yet read these books, be aware!)
Originally published in 1933 and 1935, respectively, Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat comprise a two-book series that revolves around a girl growing up on a beautiful farm on Prince Edward Island, surrounded by her beloved family and friends. The first volume chronicles Pat’s childhood and teenage years with plenty of humor and sweetness, while the sequel follows the heroine into adulthood—from hosting special dinners to marriage proposals and further changes in her life.
“I really put more of myself into Pat than into any of my other heroines,” Montgomery once wrote. I feel like Pat is one of her most realistic heroines, much less dreamy than Anne Shirley but not quite as capable as Jane Stuart. Montgomery also considered Pat to be “like Anne,” an observation I find interesting, since the two characters are quite different, in my opinion!
Shortly after its publication, The Los Angeles Times called Pat of Silver Bush a “sweet, sentimental story of young girlhood on a wooded estate on Prince Edward Island…those who followed the fortunes of Anne of Green Gables will revel in this.”
This series contains some of Montgomery’s finest characterizations: stubborn, warmhearted Pat; endearing, artistic Jingle; whimsical yet prosaic Judy. And one of her most convincing “villains” appears in the pages of Silver Bush, in the form of Jingle’s mother—the cold, self-absorbed Doreen Garrison. Also interesting: while most of Montgomery’s heroines are orphans and only children, Pat possesses not only both parents, but several siblings as well—which provides another avenue of storylines for the series.
These books focus on the simplest joys of life, while celebrating family and strong ties to home. Pat may not have many “adventures”—she doesn’t go off to Redmond like Anne and she doesn’t climb the Alpine Path with Emily, but the books don’t require such adventures to create compelling plotlines and poignant moments.
Pat’s fierce loyalty to her home is intensely relatable, as is her reluctance to change and her sorrow over the small, but necessary, transitions of life. Who can’t sympathize with the mingled pain and regret when a tree is chopped down or a bedroom re-papered? But Pat’s love of the nature and beauty around her helps overcome many of her trivial concerns. “Who among us will not experience a homesick thrill in reading of the Secret Field and the old orchard?” the Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote of the first Pat book in 1933. “Was not there always something like that in our childhood days?”
One interesting facet about this series is that unlike some of Montgomery’s old-fashioned heroines, Pat’s story is set largely in the 1920s! Automobiles, telephones, and bobbed hair all play a role in the series—a significant departure from the days of Anne Shirley! For those curious about such small details—like I am!—Pat was born in 1913. “I was five when the armistice was signed,” Pat recounts in Pat of Silver Bush. Working from other dates provided throughout the series, the ending of Mistress Pat technically takes place in 1944, but as it was published nine years prior to that date, obviously Montgomery couldn’t have foreseen that Silver Bush—and the rest of the world!—would have been engulfed in World War II by the end of the story. (I’m glad Jingle didn’t have to go to war!! Though the war would have given Judy and Pat endless material for kitchen confabs.)
Another element I love about this book is that Silver Bush is actually a real place. Montgomery modeled the Gardiner house after the home of her aunt and uncle, which she often visited as a child. Amusingly, the pond she called “The Lake of Shining Waters” was actually on the Silver Bush property—not at Green Gables! Silver Bush “was extremely important to Lucy Maud Montgomery as she had many happy visits here…the home was the inspiration of many of her writings.” One of Montgomery’s biographers wrote that Silver Bush was “the happiest home away from home that Maud ever knew.”
The books can be long in spots—excessive chunks of dialogue, stories, and descriptions that were some of Montgomery’s favorite aspects of writing—but the memorable characters, gorgeous imagery, and charming storylines outweigh these sections. And I would have loved the ending of Mistress Pat even more if she had chosen to marry Jingle before Silver Bush burned in the fire. Then it would have been a courageous decision born of love and steadfastness instead of resignation. (And if Montgomery could have found a way for Pat and Jingle to live at Silver Bush forever—and for Jingle’s mother to return and reconcile with him—I would have been over the moon!)
Those aspects aside, these are among my very favorite Montgomery novels, and I recommend them to anyone who loves stories focused on home and family. 🙂
(The header photo is a sketch I drew of Pat and the Silver Bush house. 🙂)
 Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer’s Life by Elizabeth McLeod (2001), pg. 27
 Lucy Maud Montgomery (The Canadians) by Mollie Gillen (1999), pg. 56
 “Sweet Sentiment Here,” The Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1933, pg. 29
 “Life of a Girl on Prince Edward Isle,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 2, 1933, pg. 30
 Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery (1933), pg. 197
 Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce (1992), pg. 26