Uncle Richard’s New Years Dinner
by L. M. Montgomery
(about 1500 words)
We can’t have a L. M. Montgomery story without a dead parent, so in “Uncle Richard’s New Years Dinner,” the protagonist, Prissy, lives with her father, having never known her mother who died when she was born. She used to be close to her uncle Richard, too, before he and her father had a falling out. Now Uncle Richard shuns the both of them, which is hard on both her and her father, neither of whom hold any hard feelings toward Uncle Richard. When Prissy hears that her uncle will be away for all of New Years day, with no one at home to cook him a dinner when he comes home late, she gets the idea to sneak into her uncle’s house to cook for him and leave before he gets home at one o’clock. It’s the perfect crime: sneak in, cook a whole meal and sneak out. Nothing could go wrong. That is, unless her uncle gets home early.
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874 in Clifton Prince Edward Island, Canada. Her mother died when she was just a baby and her father gave her up to her grandparents. Her grandparents didn’t show a great deal of warmth toward her and in fact, reading her more famous works, “Anne of Green Gables” or “Emily of New Moon” it’s easy to see where Montgomery drew inspiration for her key antagonists. During this period of strict discipline and lonely isolation, Montgomery drew up several imaginary friends which became the bedrock for her creative writing later in life. While visiting her father in Prince Albert, Montgomery had her first poem published. Four years later she received her teacher’s license, and studied literature for the next four years after. She had many fleeting love interests, though never serious for marriage until she became a bit desperate, only to back out at the last minute. While she received much fame and popularity from her writing, “Anne of Green Gables” in particular, she knew that it was most economical for her to marry, and so ended up with a minister who moved them both to Ontario soon after. She died on April 24, 1942 from what may have been a heart condition, or suicide. Her last note/journal entry is somewhat ominous and various sources provide different arguments for both.