“ ‘I will say it for the child,’ said Marilla when Anne had gone to her gable, ‘She isn’t stingy. I’m glad, for of all faults I detest stinginess in a child. Dear me, it’s only three weeks since she came, and it seems as if she’d been here always. I can’t imagine the place without her.’”
~ Marilla Cuthbert,
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery,
Chapter 12: A Solemn Vow and a Promise
It may seem odd, but my favorite aspect of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing is her characterizations of “mean old ladies.” Valancy, heroine of my favorite Montgomery novel The Blue Castle, is stifled and downtrodden not just by her egocentric cousins and ignorant aunts and uncles, but by her own mother.
(As an aside, I do wonder whether all the “mean” aunts of fiction are a sidestepping of making the mother characters less than, well, motherly. It could be the modern bowdlerization, just as fairy tales originally had evil mothers which over time were changed to evil stepmothers since maternal saintlihood, while perhaps not always realistic, is still put on a pedestal in most fiction and social expectations.)