Jane of Lantern Hill
L.M. Montgomery's last novel is one of her best, as she tells the story of young Jane Victoria Stuart, who is growing up in 1930's Toronto in the austere mansion of her manipulative grandmother. Although she loves her sweet mother, Jane (called "Victoria" by everyone except herself) is easily cowed by her hateful grandmother and is considered a dull and stupid child by everyone except Mother and her good friend Jody, the orphan next door.
Enter Jane's long-lost father, whom Jane believed was dead until recently, when she learned of her parents' long ago divorce, and whom she has hated ever since. She dreads going to spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island-- that is, until she meets Dad and sees the Island, and loves both. During the summer, Jane (now called Jane) becomes a self-sufficient, happy child as both her father and her success at everything she tries her hand at boosts her self-esteem. Although she must return to Toronto when the summer ends, her self-assurance never leaves her and she is now a match for Grandmother. Life in Toronto is bearable, as long as she has another summer with Dad to look forward to.
This is a truly charming book, and although the ending is fairy tale-esque, readers will consider Jane worthy of it. She is an exemplary heroine who is also a convincing pre-pubescent girl. A must-read.