'Emily Climbs' Summary
Emily Byrd Starr longs to attend Queen's Academy to earn her teaching licence, but her tradition-bound relatives at New Moon refuse. She is instead offered the chance to go to Shrewsbury High School with her friends, on two conditions. The first is that she board with her disliked Aunt Ruth, but it is the second that causes Emily difficulties. Emily must not write (aside from schoolwork) during her high-school education. At first, Emily refuses the offer, unable to contemplate a life without any writing. Cousin Jimmy changes the condition slightly, saying that she cannot write anything that is not true, meaning she must not write stories for the duration of her high school education. Emily does not think this much of an improvement but it turns out to be an excellent exercise for her budding writing career.
Emily clashes with the ever-suspicious Aunt Ruth, who must know all but rarely believes it. After more than a year of Aunt Ruth's disrespect and arbitrariness, Emily walks the seven miles back to New Moon in the dead of night, only to walk back after fully venting her feelings to Cousin Jimmy.
Emily's friendship with Ilse Burnley is tested by Evelyn Blake, the school's would-be writer, who is jealous and condescending. Emily vanquishes her once and for all when she finds physical proof that Evelyn plagiarized an old poem to win a school contest. Rather than tell everyone about it, Emily only shows the evidence to Evelyn who admits she did it so her father would allow her to take a trip to Vancouver if she won.
Thanks to Aunt Elizabeth's ban on writing fiction, Emily starts to develop her powers of storytelling, writing 'portraits' of people and keeping a journal diligently. Through a series of adventures, Emily is furnished with materials to write stories and poems, and even sees monetary success with the short story "The Woman Who Spanked the King," as told to her by an addled Scottish woman.
In the meantime, Emily also begins to see romantic possibilities for her life. She and Teddy Kent draw closer, but due to misunderstandings and interference from Teddy's jealous mother, the romance stalls. Emily refuses a proposal from her childhood friend Perry Miller, and her cousin Andrew, but continues her long-lasting friendship with Dean Priest.
At the end of the novel, Emily, now a budding young writer, is offered the opportunity to move to New York with the famous writer Janet Royal to jumpstart her career. After much thought and hesitation, Emily chooses to remain at her beloved New Moon, intent on finding fame her own way.
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