Posted by: patriciamar | February 6, 2017

Anne vs Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite heroines.  A fictional female writer who is questionably as weird as I am!?   Yes.

I have read every Green Gables book (my favorites being the first and Rainbow Valley).  I plan to work my way through the Emily books during my next break.  I hear they are also excellent–more on that later.

I always let my adoration of Anne extend to the writer of this beloved series, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Having recently finished reading a bio of L.M. Montgomery, Maud, I’m getting a taste of what parts of Anne are Maud, and which are Maud’s aunts, mother, and more.

I’ve always thought that L.M. Montgomery played a role in my eventual life as a writer, but I am now further convinced.  Maud was weird in such a strangmazing way!  Flowers quarreling and romantic lanes that have names and souls– I almost think that through Anne, Maud made me me.

It adds to the charm that most all of Maud’s (& Anne’s) life takes place on Prince Edward Island.  This is the type of island that a writer can typically only dream about. (By the way, did you hear about the essay contest that ends with someone winning a lakeside cabin in the Catskills!?  I am very tempted– just 200 words away from a life of writing by the lake in the morning and reading in the evening by the fire, but I digress.)

I chose to read this bio because my parents recently endeavored on a fairytale trip to Prince Edward Island.  Fairly tale, because it’s a road trip that most certainly includes windswept Canadian sand dunes–the most romantic of sand dunes–and a walk through The Haunted Wood! (Cavendish Road Woods).  How very thrilling!

About Maud

“Writing was Maud’s most reliable friend.  It was her escape from everything that troubled her.”

(Bruce, pg 16 )

Author Harry Bruce puts together a striking picture of Maud.  She wrote throughout life and had her reasons for doing so.  She loved PEI and this and her strange and somewhat sad upbringing made her the woman who created Anne, Emily, Rilla, Marilla and Matthew.  Bruce organizes the book nicely.  You start by reading a caricature of the Anne, ahem, the Maud that you could imagine living the life as a teacher/writer.

“She was an offspring of storytellers–and of headstrong women.”

Then you shift back to childhood, where she claims her first memory occurred at just 22 months of age.

As he works through the book, you must endure sad moments along with the happy.  Imagine what life would have been like if Marilla had never softened and Matthew had never existed?  Life was hard for Maud, but through it all, she wrote.

Anne & Emily

Anne

From the movie, “Anne of Green Gables” (Sullivan Entertainment)

Anne was one of Maud’s most well-known characters, but the life of Emily, it seems, was also very representative of what Maud went through in her life.

“To young Maud Montgomery, whose fantasies were every bit as powerful as those of Emily, Anne, or any of the other girls should create, nineteenth-century Cavendish was full of flashes, hints of heaven, and magic.”

Maud’s life as a female writer wasn’t easy, but she had the work ethic of an ox.  Women and writing during this time period was an unlikely combination, and was not accepted.  Thus, many of her submissions and efforts were carried out entirely in secret.

In some ways, I can commiserate.  Failure or a lack of success is easier to take in private, in my opinion.  However, I chose this path, and I don’t believe that Maud had that choice.  She was born a woman, and she was born a writer.

Life Lessons

“I do not think the majority of grown-ups have any real conception of the tortures sensitive children suffer over any marked difference between themselves and the other small denizens of their small world.”  (Montgomery)

The above statement, in a nutshell, is the feeling that caused Rachel Lynde to be called fat, and which had at least a little to do with a slate being broken over Gilbert Blythe’s head.  Why insult children!?  They have feelings too!  And do you not remember puberty?

The dark days

At one point in her story, just before she wrote Anne of Green Gables, and perhaps hinting at the reason for creating the series, Maud said that she thought the best years of her life were behind her.

This statement made my heart feel real pain.  Imagine it.  Have you thought it yourself?  Perhaps you have, but I hope not.  Either you considered it while you were in the depths of despair, or you really, truly feel that way.

But oh, Maud.  You poor thing.

She was nineteen.

A few other notable pieces of information that you’ll learn about through Bruce’s book?  Anne’s love of spare rooms, the real Katie in the glass, and the homestead after which Green Gables was modeled.

This book is chock full of Maud quotes that are just so Anne.  I highly recommend it.

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