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Book of The Week #30 "A Tangled Web"

A Tangled Web
by L.M. Montgomery

Over the years, 60 Penhallows have married 60 Darks. These two families have formed a clan and its members are expected to marry into each other's families. The clan is full of characters, yet one in particular stands out; Aunt Becky. At 96, Aunt Becky isn't long for this world. Yet her tongue continues to spit fire and she forgets nothing even on her death bead. Most dread an encounter with Aunt Becky fearing that she will drudge up some sordid detail of their past, yet there is one thing that brings almost all living members of the clan to her levee; the jug. This jug has a romantic history behind it and Aunt Becky has been in its possession for years. All members of the clan crave a chance to own the infamous jug and hope that when Aunt Becky dies it will be left to them. Yet as a seemingly last jab at the entire clan, Aunt Becky has decided that Dandy Dark, the least expected member of the clan, will be the keeper of the name of the jug's recipient with instructions to reveal the name after one year. Aunt Becky spouts off a laundry list of things that would keep a person from receiving the jug, yet also admits that these things may not affect her decision.

Over the course of the year, many things take place. Gay Penhallow, much against the clan's wishes, falls madly in love with and becomes engaged to an outsider, Donna Dark surprises everyone by falling in love with Peter Penhallow and vice versa. And the age old question of why Jocelyn Dark left Hugh on their wedding night still hangs in the air.

This is the first adult novel I've read from L.M. Montgomery. I rented a copy from my local library and am surprised to find the edition I read labeled YA. This book certainly isn't YA. Though not terribly vulgar, it does have a few curse words and hints at some mature subjects. It's different to read after having read her young adult novels, but this is a really good book. I just recommend keeping it away from younger readers.

I'm kind of on the fence as to whether or not to label this book a romance. There is plenty of romance in lot of the stories, yet some are not romantic and I feel like that isn't the main focus of the book. The main focus seems to be how this jug affects the lives of the clan over the course of a year. I could be wrong, though. 

This book has so much going on, yet ties in well together. Each chapter deals with a different story of one or more of the clan's members. My favorite characters were Gay, Donna, Peter, Jocelyn and Hugh. Even though I wanted to roll my eyes at Gay some of the time, I still found myself curious as to what would happen in her part of the story. Donna and Peter's story was probably the most romantic and I love the tragic romance of Jocelyn and Hugh's story. I was curious as to how all of these stories would unfold and was happy with all of their endings.

Aunt Becky is quite a character. She's so hateful and says such mean things, but one does come to feel sorry for her just before her end. And Nan Penhallow is like that evil soap opera character that you can't help but watch. She's so spiteful to sensitive Gay simply because she thinks it's fun. I was pretty glad that she wasn't in the book more than she was.

I think the title "A Tangled Web" is perfect for this novel. So many of the stories within the book are tangled and even the clan itself is tangled with 60 Penhallows having married 60 Darks.

All in all, I think this was a great book. It's quirky with humor, tragedy and romance. A lovely read.

I give this book a 4 out 5.

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