I briefly met Benjamin at the Ryerson Showcase : Anne of Green Gables Centenary that Island Spirit PEI sponsored. He was friendly and really knows his Anne films.  I hope to read his book someday.

A kindred spirit,


Eternally Anne


The Island Scrapbooks

of L. M. Montgomery

By Elizabeth Rollins Epperly

Penguin Canada, 170 pages, $39

By Budge Wilson

Penguin Canada, 447 pages, $25.


How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic

By Irene Gammel

Key Porter, 312 pages, $32.95

‘Anne of Green Gables is worth a thousand of the problem stories with which the bookshelves are crowded today, and we venture the opinion that this simple story of rural life in Canada will be read and reread when many of the more pretentious stories are all forgotten. There is not a dull page in the whole volume …”

So proclaimed The Toronto Globe in 1908. A century later, this prediction continues to prove true: Despite the immeasurable changes that have swept over the world in the past 100 years, the life and work of Lucy Maud Montgomery continue to appeal to readers of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Although literary fads have likewise changed since Anne of Green Gables first appeared on the scene, today’s readers of Montgomery’s debut novel still agree with Mark Twain’s public endorsement, in which he declared, “In Anne of Green Gables, you will find the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice.”

Montgomery’s appealing story of a redheaded orphan from away who transforms the lives of the inhabitants of a P.E.I. settlement is available to readers not only in its original form, but also through adaptations and spin-offs such as films, television series, musicals, abridgments, tourist sites and commodities. On my dresser at home, I proudly display all my Anne kitsch, which includes shot glass, ashtray, thimble, commemorative spoon, keychain, matching pencils with Anne and Diana heads, toenail clippers and potato chips (“sliced extra thin and crunchy for a more distinctive potato taste”).

It may seem perplexing to the uninitiated that these bizarre items can be at all related to a classic literary text that I keep rereading, but together they make for a unique form of Canadian culture. Montgomery wrote numerous sequels to Anne (the exact number depends on how devoted a reader you are), but none of these comes close to matching the appeal of this first book. In a way, these derivative texts and things become ways to keep the story going, to delay its inevitable end.

Coinciding with the novel’s centennial anniversary are three books that likewise serve to extend the original story. While at least four reissues of Montgomery’s novel will appear this year in Canada alone (all of Montgomery’s work published in her lifetime has been in the public domain since 1993), each of these books finds a distinctive way to solve the puzzle of how Montgomery’s appealing character came into being.

Imagining Anne, prepared by internationally renowned Montgomery scholar Elizabeth Rollins Epperly, reproduces more than 100 pages from two of Montgomery’s personal scrapbooks from 1893 to 1910. Supplemented by Epperly’s introduction and careful annotations, these

neglected scrapbooks are crucial to our understanding of the ways in which Montgomery pieced together her bestselling fiction.

The pieces that form the individual pages – newspaper and magazine clippings, calling cards, invitations, photographs and programs – are all of interest by themselves, but what proves especially fascinating is how these items work together in their selection and arrangement. As Epperly shows, each page of Montgomery’s scrapbooks implies a story, about womanhood, about relationships, about writing. And while Montgomery viewed her journals as a container for emotions she trained herself to suppress in public, these scrapbook pages keep sorrows and disappointments hidden beneath the surface.

Perhaps the most controversial of the three books here is Before Green Gables, a prequel that was fully authorized by Montgomery’s heirs. Written by Budge Wilson, the author of more than 30 novels for children (including the Governor-General’s Award-nominated Friendships and four titles in the Our Canadian Girl series), this prequel attempts to account for Anne’s early life by expanding upon the few “bald facts” that the 11-year-old offers Marilla Cuthbert on her arrival at Green Gables. Wilson does not attempt to mimic Montgomery’s writing style – the novel contains no wordplay or parody, no literary allusions to the canonical British and American texts that would have been known to readers of Montgomery’s background – but what she offers instead is a story that humanizes characters who appear on the fringes of Montgomery’s text. We see Walter and Bertha Shirley exhibiting many of the qualities that Anne would inherit – love, harmony and the ability to transform the lives of those around them.

Under Wilson’s pen, Anne’s foster parents become more complex people, who are well-intentioned despite the narrowness brought upon them by years of poverty and restricted options, and Anne’s life is rounded out by supporting characters who are kind and sympathetic to her, including two schoolteachers and several neighbours.

Wilson’s novel refuses to sugarcoat the neglect and abuse that Anne endures in two households in which she is literally a servant; adding these humanizing elements is necessary to soften the blow, but it does create problems when we view the novel as a precursor of Montgomery’s own work. It implies that Anne tells Marilla a very selective version of her past, which is troubling due to the fact that it is on the basis of Marilla’s pity for Anne’s “starved, unloved life” that she allows the orphan to stay.

These detractions aside, what is most appealing about Wilson’s book is Anne herself: her ability to make the best of her circumstances, her love of learning, her keen appreciation of the natural world and her delight in Montgomery’s favourite natural image in her series, “the bend in the road.”

Wilson does not mine all of Montgomery’s hints for her work: Her Anne expresses no anxiety about the plainness of her name, and her refuge in alter egos named Cordelia and Geraldine is not part of the story. But while the links to Montgomery’s series are not always seamless, Before Green Gables is nevertheless a captivating story in its own right.

While Wilson’s novel will appeal to readers searching for a new Anne story, Irene Gammel’s Looking for Anne (to be published in April) will captivate those interested in the behind-the-scenes of Montgomery’s breakthrough novel. Gammel, a Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture at Toronto’s Ryerson University, takes her readers on a tour of Montgomery’s life and influences, sifting through the layers of Montgomery’s hints and contradictory statements to recreate the process of “brooding up” and writing Anne of Green Gables.

Drawing on a vast array of neglected and unknown sources, this groundbreaking study establishes new connections between Montgomery’s isolated life in Cavendish, P.E.I., and the metropolitan existence that she consumed vicariously through magazines published in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. As I read extracts from unpublished journal entries, from neglected periodical pieces and from secondary sources I had been unaware of, I was struck again and again by how many connections I had not yet considered. Looking for Anne is a highly readable, top-rate study that will provide a new spin on Montgomery’s text.

Taken together, these three books demonstrate that as far as Anne of Green Gables is concerned, there is so much more to enjoy, so much more to discover, so much more to appreciate about a character who continues to appeal to readers all around the world.

Benjamin Lefebvre, co-chairman of the L. M. Montgomery Research Group (http://lmmresearch.org), is preparing Montgomery’s unpublished final novel, The Blythes are Quoted, for publication.


Anne of Green Gables The Musical 101 Things You Didn’t Know

Anne of Green Gables - The Musical 101 Things You Didn"t Know

Anne of Green Gables - The Musical 101 Things You Didn"t Know $19.95

Along with Norman & Elaine Campbell author Ron Harron created Anne of Green Gables The Musical and has been involved with it for 52 years.  The 101 things format would make it a great coffee table book if the it wasn’t such a darn page turner.  It’s has some touchching tales, of the people who pass the torch contrasted with back, memorable pictures and lots of backstage antics.

The musical is Canada’s longest running and has been seen by over 3 million people.

Quote “My greatest achievement is this musical that has given jobs to ten thousand professional actors.

Best known to Canadians as his alter ego “Charlie Farquharson” with which he stared on 18 years of the Amercian TV show Hew Haw, written 12 novels and guest stared on such programs  as The Red Green Show an Royal Candian Air Farce.

Don has appeared done 6 shows on Broadway, 4 in London’s West End, 4 years of Shakespeare in 3 countries and 56 years of stand-up comedy.

One of the greatest friends of Prince Edward Island, nobody knows the musical like Don Harron or gives the straight goods with modesty and humour.

We are in your debt Mr. Harron.

Of Orphans and Grandaughters

Japan Times

Of Orphans and Granddaughters
Marking its 100th anniversary, ‘Anne of Green Gables’ still touches hearts in Japan

Staff writer

When I was 10 years old, I found a book titled “Akage no An” (“Anne with Red Hair”) in a library. It was a Japanese translation of “Anne of Green Gables” written by Canadian novelist Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) in 1908.

News photo
Common bonds: Kate Macdonald Butler meets Eri (left) and Mie Muraoka, granddaughters of translator Hanako Muraoka. ERIKO ARITA

I became absorbed in reading the novel, fascinated by the heroine Anne Shirley, a cheerful and romantic orphan girl raised by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, middle-aged siblings. The pastoral world of Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada, where the story is set, seemed to me like a wonderland.

So I was excited when a granddaughter of Montgomery, Kate Macdonald Butler, came to Japan in December, the 100th anniversary year of the internationally beloved classic publication.

At an event held at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo on Dec. 4, Butler, and Eri Muraoka — granddaughter of Hanako Muraoka (1893-1968), who translated the novel into Japanese — gave presentations about the book and their grandmothers. About 200 fans of Anne attended the event.

In Butler’s speech, she said Montgomery loved her home, Prince Edward Island, with its beautiful hills, woods and shores.

“Her celebration of its beauty is the lyrical charm to her writing. In nature she found peace and spiritual fulfillment,” Butler said. Then she read aloud from the book a scene in which Anne sees a long canopy of snowy, fragrant apple tree blossoms during her first buggy drive with Matthew Cuthbert on the way to his home, Green Gables. “Oh, Mr. Cuthbert,” she whispered, “that place we came through — that white place — what was it?”

“Well now, you must mean the Avenue,” said Matthew after a few moments’ profound reflection. “It is a kind of pretty place.”

“Pretty? Oh, pretty doesn’t seem the right word to use. Nor beautiful, either. They don’t go far enough. Oh, it was wonderful—wonderful. It’s the first thing I ever saw that couldn’t be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfied me here” — she put one hand on her breast — “it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache. Did you ever have an ache like that, Mr. Cuthbert?”

“Well now, I just can’t recollect that I ever had.”

“I have it lots of times — whenever I see anything royally beautiful. But they shouldn’t call that lovely place the Avenue. There is no meaning in a name like that. They should call it — let me see — the White Way of Delight. Isn’t that a nice imaginative name?”

After reading, Butler and Muraoka shared memories of their grandmothers with the audience. Butler recalled her first trip to Japan in 2005, when she visited Hanako Muraoka’s house in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, where she had translated the novel.

“It was a very moving moment to sit where your grandmother translated my grandmother’s story. Did you feel like that, too?” Butler asked Eri Muraoka.

News photo
Boundless enthusiasm: A scene from “Akage no An” (“Anne with Red Hair”), based on a Japanese translation of “Anne of Green Gables,” shows Anne Shirley enjoying a buggy drive with her guardian Matthew Cuthbert. NIPPON ANIMATION CO.

“I was very moved, too,” Muraoka answered. “My grandmother wrote in the afterword of one of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ sequels, ‘If I could have met Mrs. Montgomery, we would have been bosom friends.”

Bosom friend is the words that Anne used for Diana, her closest confident, in the novel.

“Perhaps when my grandmother was translating what your grandmother expressed in her works, she found that she shared values and views on life with your grandmother,” Muraoka said. “Even though they never met, my grandmother seemed to have had spiritual ties to your grandmother.”

Butler asked Muraoka to come on her first trip to Prince Edward Island last year. Muraoka said she was touched upon seeing the places written about in the novel as well as those that related to the author’s life.

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, more than 8,000 Japanese visited the island in 2008. The number of Japanese tourists to the island from January to October 2008 rose 70 percent from that of the previous year.

Celebrations of the centennial of Anne’s story took place last year on Prince Edward Island, as they did in Japan, home to some of her most enthusiastic fans. Anne’s popularity here has been facilitated by Muraoka’s translation, first published in 1952. Muraoka studied English literature in a girls’ school in Tokyo that had been established by Canadian missionaries.

A summary of ‘Anne of Green Gables’


Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan with red hair, is sent from Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada to neighboring Prince Edward Island to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert at a farm house called Green Gables. Though the middle-aged siblings were expecting a sturdy boy to help around the farm, they decide to raise the talkative and bright young girl.

While Anne has a fierce temper and tumbles into one scrape after another, Marilla and Matthew come to love the imaginative girl who just wants to find a home. She builds friendships with local people such as Diana Barry, whom she calls her “bosom friend.”

Anne finds plenty of adventures in the quiet community of Avonlea. At school, she hits her classmate Gilbert Blythe with her writing slate after he teases her about her red hair, calling her “carrots.” Provoked by another classmate, Anne climbs up on the roof of Diana’s house, promptly falling off and breaking her ankle.

But she works hard at school and home while enjoying the beautiful nature of the island. As years pass and Anne grows up to become an intelligent young lady, she succeeds in entering Queen’s Academy, a teachers school on the island, and Marilla, a strict and stubborn woman, learns to honestly express her love for Anne.

Anne receives the highest mark in English literature at the academy, for which she is given a scholarship to study at a college. When Matthew suddenly dies, though, Anne decides to stay with Marilla and teach at a local school. Seven sequels by Montgomery follow the continuing adventures in Anne’s life.

One of Muraoka’s friends, the missionary Loretta Leonard Shaw, gave “Anne of Green Gables” to Muraoka in 1939, according to “An no Yurikago” (“Anne’s Cradle”), the biography of Muraoka written by her granddaughter. It was shortly before the outbreak of World War II, and Shaw, being from Canada, was forced to leave the country. Before she did, though, she asked Muraoka to introduce the novel to Japanese girls by translating it when peace returned.

Muraoka went ahead with translating the novel soon after, according to the biography. When the U.S. Air Force in April 1945 bombed southern Tokyo, where Muraoka was living, she held the novel and her manuscripts of Japanese translation in her arms, dashing into the air-raid shelter in her garden. She and the translation narrowly survived the bombing.

Soon after, her Japanese translation of “Anne of Green Gables” was published in 1952, and the book became a best-seller. More than 1 million copies of the novel have been sold to this day, according to Shinchosha Publishing Co.

The story has also been adapted for the stage. The Shiki Theatre Company has performed a musical about Anne around 500 times since April 1980. The show is a Japanese version of the musical that has been staged on the Prince Edward Island since 1965.

“The success of the musical here comes from the supreme popularity of the book,” said Takaho Nishimura, spokesperson for the theater company.

Perhaps the most Japanese interpretation of Anne is an animation. Produced by Nippon Animation, the cartoon series of “Anne of Green Gables” was first screened in January 1979 and has been re-broadcast on TV, CS or BS channels for around 10 years. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the series this year, Nippon Animation will broadcast a new version from April.

Titled “Konnichiwa An” (“Hello Anne”), it is based on “Before Green Gables,” which Canadian novelist Budge Wilson wrote as a story detailing Anne’s life before her arrival at Green Gables. The book was published by Penguin Group in the United States and Canada in February, and the Japanese translation was published by Shinchosha Publishing in July.

Setsuko Iwasaki of Nippon Animation said the company staff were very much interested in “Anne before Green Gables” as the prequel of the best-seller. “Konnichiwa An” narrates 11 years of Anne’s life before she meets Matthew and Marilla, Iwasaki said in the e-mail.

“While Anne has a tough life of poverty and labor under her foster parents, by developing her imagination, she never loses hope. The story depicts the start of the life of Anne Shirley, who is always positive and has rich emotions,” she said.

An exhibition on Anne has also been held here. The “Anne of Green Gables Exhibition,” which visited five cities throughout 2008 and continued up until Jan. 12, has attracted some 170,000 people, according to organizers. The exhibition, which includes the manuscript of an “Anne” sequels by Montgomery and a Japanese manuscript by Muraoka, will travel to Sendai and Kumamoto Prefecture in March.

Though the centennial of the novel is now over, the boom in anything Anne- related in Japan should continue throughout this year, and probably for much, much longer.

Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 12:07 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Anne of Green Gables Musical Coming to Toronto

The Anne of Green Gables Musical is Coming to Toronto

Canada’s longest running musical, seen by over three million worldwide is coming to Toronto.   The original production from The Confederation Centre of The Arts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is coming to Toronto thanks to DanCap Productions.

The musical will run May 7th, to May 31st, 2009.

Seating Charts are available here

  • Saturday Evening – $155 -$260
  • Sunday and Saturday Matinee $135-$230
  • Thursday and Friday Evening $115-$220
  • Wednesday Evening – $105-$205
  • Wednesday Matinee $100- $190


By TTC: Subway to Queen Station. Exit to street. The theatre is on the east side of Yonge Street at Queen St.

By Car: QEW or 401 to Yonge St. Proceed north or south on Yonge to Queen.

“Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, is a must see. This spunky, entertaining and delightful production has proven why it is Canada’s longest running musical.”
– Lisa Vlooswyk, The Calgary Herald

Elgin Theatre 189 Yonge Street

Anne of Green Gables – Full Company
Great Workers for the Cause – Rachel Lynde and the Ladies
Where is Matthew Going? – The Townspeople
Gee I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me – Anne
We Clearly Requested a Boy – Marilla, Anne and Matthew
The Facts – Anne, Mrs. Spencer, Mrs. Blewett and Marilla
Where’d Marilla Come From? – The Townspeople
Humble Pie – Matthew and Anne
The Apology – Anne
Back to School Ballet – The Pupils
Avonlea We Love Thee – Mr. Phillips and the Pupils
Wondrin’ – Gilbert
Did You Hear? – Josie and the Townspeople
Ice Cream – Diana and Company
The Picnic – The Company

Where Did the Summer Go To? – Gilbert and the Pupils
Kindred Spirits – Anne and Diana
Open the Window – Miss Stacy and the Pupils
The Words – Matthew
Open the Window (reprise) – Miss Stacy and the Pupils
Nature Hunt Ballet – The Pupils
I’ll Show Him – Anne and Gilbert
General Store – Lucilla, Matthew and the Townspeople
Pageant Song – The Pupils
If It Hadn’t Been for Me – The Company
There is a Golden Summer – Gilbert and the Pupils
Anne of Green Gables – Matthew
The Words (reprise) – Marilla
Wondrin’ (reprise) – Anne and Gilbert

Confed Center Pictures

Don Harron, Writer and Co-Lyricist
Writer Don Harron hatched the idea of creating a musical of Anne of Green Gables while reading the book to his daughter. In penning the musical-first for television, then for the stage-he “ tried to be as faithful as possible to L. M. Montgomery’s story.”

Norman Campbell, Composer and Co-Lyricist
The lilting melodies of Anne of Green Gables were composed by Norman Campbell. He worked closely with Mr. Harron to create the musical, but distance was an obstacle. Recalls Mr. Campbell: “We were in different cities, so we mostly composed over the phone”.

Elaine Campbell, Co-Lyricist
Songwriter Elaine Campbell was in hospital, about to give birth, when she penned the words to “Gee, I’m Glad”. At the time, she says: “I never imagined that one day I would see the show performed in New York, London, or Osaka.”

Mavor Moore, Artistic Director and Co-Lyricist
It was artistic director Mavor Moore who brought Anne of Green Gables, the Musical to Charlottetown. He commissioned the stage version, negotiated the rights and headed the production team. On top of that, he wrote the lyrics to three songs.

Alan Lund, Stage Director and Choreographer
The dance and staging that bring Anne of Green Gables, the Musical to life were created by Alan Lund. Although Mr. Lund was a seasoned choreographer, he had never directed a play before. Nevertheless, the original 1965 Anne staging is still in use today.

Source – Confederation Centre of the Arts

Anne on The Quilt 100th Mug & Coaster Set


$11.99 with at cost shippig in USD.

This 100th Anniversary mug and coaster set is made of bone china.  Bone china is a porcelain in which bone ash is added to the china clay to make a stronger porcelain that is less likely to chip.

The black felt the bottom of the coaster is extremley soft and and pleasant on the fingers.

“Anne on The Quilt” was painted by Dale McNevin of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  The work is panoramic with a woods behind Green Gables.

Anne on The Quit is our most popular Anne Shirley art. We offer Anne on The Quilt prints, stationary, ceramics, textiles, license plates and napkins.

Would you like this item can be gift wrapped in Anne of Green Gables Paper for an extra $2.50?

surface $0.01
xpress $0.02
super fast $0.03

Published in: Uncategorized on January 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

「赤毛のアン」刊行100周年、特別企画展開催 広島 – MSN産経ニュース

「赤毛のアン」刊行100周年、特別企画展開催 広島

2008.12.14 01:48


同文学館などの主催。モンゴメリが生み出し、世界35カ国以上で翻訳された名作が、日本でどのように受け入れられていったかに焦点をあてながら紹介。会場 では、初めて日本語訳を手がけた翻訳家、村岡花子(明治26-昭和43年)による邦訳初版本(昭和27年)や、原書の初版本をはじめ、アンなどに関する資 料約410点を展示している。

このほか会場には「アン」と並ぶ代表作で、作家を目指す少女を描いた「エミリー」の初版本(大正12年)も 紹介。また、ファンが作った人形のほか、高さ約80センチ、幅約90センチ、奥行き約60センチの、アンが住む家の大型模型も展示。内部の家具まで詳細に 再現しており、訪れる人たちの注目を集めている。


via 「赤毛のアン」刊行100周年、特別企画展開催 広島 – MSN産経ニュース.

Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 12:28 am  Leave a Comment  

日本最大級のキルト展『東京国際キルトフェスティバル』が開催 | エンタテインメント | マイコミジャーナル



2009イメージキルト 制作:片桐好子

今年で8回目を迎える『東京国際キルトフェスティバル-布と針と糸の祭典2009-』。キルトを愛する人々が集うイベントとして毎年会期中に25万 人以上(過去の累計入場者数170万人)が訪れ、キルターから絶大な人気を博している日本最大級のイベントだ。中でも注目されるのが、毎年行われている恒 例の『日本キルト大賞』。プロ・アマ問わず国内外からの幅広いキルターの応募総数1679点の応募作品から、日本キルト大賞など様々な受賞作をフェスティ バル初日に発表する。

今年の特集企画『私の「赤毛のアン物語」』にも注目。2008年6月に出版100年を迎えたルーシー M.モンゴメリ作“赤毛のアン”では、カナダの“プリンス・エドワード島”でのキルトのある暮らしが生き生きと描かれているが、同フェスティバルでは作品 の舞台となったアンの家“グリーン・ゲイブルズ”と農場などを再現。ルーシー M.モンゴメリ自身もキルターとして様々な作品を残しており、14歳の時に制作したキルトや日本で初めて公開される『ベッドスプレッド』の紹介をはじめ、 物語に魅了された鷲沢玲子氏と仲間たちが“アン”への想いや物語のシーンをキルト作品を通して展示する。

特集企画 私の「赤毛のアン」物語コーナーでは、“赤毛のアン”作者 L.M.モンゴメリの作ったキルトを展示

昔ながらの暮らしの中で培われた質素ながらも独特のデザインと色使い、繊細なキルティングが魅力のたアーミッシュの人々がつくるキルトを展示する 『至宝アーミッシュとアメリカンアンティークキルト~19世紀アメリカの新世界キルト~』も目玉企画。今回はアーミッシュの出身国スイスのジュネーブ美 術・博物館と蒐集家M.ウィリー氏が所蔵するアーミッシュキルト、そしてペンシルバニア州を中心としたハイクオリティのアメリカンアンティークキルト35 枚が展示される。東京ドームの広報担当者は「今年で8回目となる本フェスティバルは、キルトの魅力を伝える祭典として、国内外の作品約1800点が展示さ れます。第一線で活躍するキルト作家の新作や特集企画の『私の「赤毛のアン物語」』など見どころがたっぷりです」とコメントしている。

現代アメリカの巨匠3人展のコーナーで展示される『ALPHABET SOUP』(写真)作:M.ジョーン・リントールト 至宝アーミッシュとアメリカンアンティークキルトのコーナーで展示されるアーミッシュキルト 1880年頃 M.ウィリー蔵

via 日本最大級のキルト展『東京国際キルトフェスティバル』が開催 | エンタテインメント | マイコミジャーナル.

Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Reading to Know: Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge

Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge

You’ve been talking and I’ve been listening. Lucy Maud Montgomery is my favorite author of all times. (Well, my favorite female writer. The favorite male writer being, of course, C.S. Lewis.) I have not only read everything L.M. Montgomery ever wrote but I also own everything she wrote (minus one non-fiction magazine article). I seriously love her writing and I’m not sure I can even say why, exactly, although I will certainly try.

Lucy Maud Montgomery had an active imagination. She must have taken herself on some wild personal adventures but she also provided her reader to escape to a magical place known as Prince Edward Island. The majority of her stories were set on Prince Edward Island. Because of that, about 8 years ago I traveled to that Island to see this world that Montgomery breathed out into her writing. I wanted to walk where she walked and see what she saw and wrote about in such an impacting way.

She wrote when times were simpler and love was valued. These days we hardly notice love because we’re too busy dashing about trying to accomplish “to-do” lists that are miles long, destroying our ability to relax and just be. Montgomery wrote about front porch discussions, tea parties, apple picking, snow walks, letters mailed by post and laughter. If you’ve read Montgomery at all you come to realize that she is very tongue-in-cheek and has a wicked sense of humor. She writes about people’s personalities which makes them believable and is quite frequently sarcastically funny. I love it! It’s my style.

In the last little while I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite Montgomery short stories and several of you have commented that you haven’t ever read Montgomery before or you haven’t read very widely. I think it’s time to change that, don’t you? Whether you are planning on reading the Anne books for the first time or the fiftieth time, or wanting to read about Emily, Pat or a variety of characters in her short stories, I hope you will read something of Montgomery’s.

I would love to start my year off right by traveling back to Prince Edward Island and tromping through fields of Queen Anne’s lace. I would like to watch another sunset next to the North Cape Lighthouse and . . . just be! I invite you to join me on this journey. Will you come?

The plan is simple

1. Pick the Montgomery book (or books!) that you most want to read and then read them during the first few weeks of January. I’ll have a Mr. Linky up on January 1st through January 9th for you to link up to if you plan on participating in this challenge. All you need to have prepared on January 1st (or shortly thereafter) is a blog post pointing people back to the Mr. Linky post and challenge. If you’d like to say which books of Montgomery’s you plan on reading during the challenge, do so then! There are a great many to choose from.

2. Come back on Friday, January 30th, 2009 and link up however many Montgomery related reviews/posts you like.

3. Visit around and see what everyone else had to say about the Montgomery books that they read and learn as much as you can about Montgomery and her writings. Visit with people about what they read and why. Fellowship and just be in this different world.

Why am I doing this? Because I love Montgomery and I think her writing is valuable and relevant. Also, I don’t want to read her alone. (I mean, I would, but I don’t really want to if I can have company along the way!) Let’s do this together and start the year off in a magical way.

Will you join me? Hope so! SPREAD THE WORD and see you back here on January 1st!

via Reading to Know: Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge.

The Blue Castle – A Commentary

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
As I mentioned previously in my post about the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge, I’ve only ever read her Emily series, half of the Anne series, and Kilmeny of the Orchard. Why I haven’t read more is beyond me. I have truly missed some great reads!

I chose The Blue Castle as my next Montgomery read as part of the Reading Challenge for two reasons: first, it is a favorite of my friend Carrie at Reading to Know (who’s hosting the reading challenge), so much so she named her photography business after it. And second, because I was given a copy when my friend Alison was cleaning out the duplicates from her personal library. So The Blue Castle came with high recommendations and was easily accessible, both signs that I had to read it soon… Unfortunately I managed to misplace it for a week and a half, so my reading was delayed, but once I got started I almost couldn’t put it down!

The Blue Castle begins… “If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different. She would have gone, with the rest of her clan, to Aunt Wellington’s engagement picnic and Dr. Trent would have gone to Montreal. But it did rain and you shall hear what happened to her because of it…”

That is a fantastic opening to a book! So much intrigue, it just pulls the reader in begging to know more of Valancy and her adventures. In summary and without any spoilers, the story of The Blue Castle is the story of a 29 year-old “spinster” Valancy Stirling who has spent her entire life living under the thumb of her overbearing mother and meddlesome and judgmental relatives. It is only when she discoverers a shocking truth about herself that Valancy takes matters into her own hands (i.e. rebels) and breaks free to create a new and fresh life for herself. A life that is filled with adventure, beauty, friendship, and even love.

I loved, loved, LOVED this story. The Blue Castle is set in the 1920s in a rural part of northern Ontario, Canada (the only novel written by Montgomery to be set entirely off Prince Edward Island). This is not Anne of Green Gables, but that’s fine, I didn’t expect nor did I want it to be. The Blue Castle is a quirky, witty, down to earth, but romantic story. Montgomery’s writing is still beautiful and refreshing to read. Throughout the novel she paints vivid pictures of nature and the characters that allows the reader to not only see it in their own imagination, but almost feel as if they have been there and it is a personal memory.

As far as the characters, Valancy may not have Anne Shirley’s temper, but she does have a clever dry wit and sarcasm that gives her character a delightful spark. Her family once referred by Valancy as being part of a “snobocracy” are quirky, meddlesome, obnoxious, and somewhat ridiculous, but still a key element to the story. The hero of the story has much more detail and personalization to his character than some of the heroes in Montgomery’s other books. He is easily the perfect match for Valancy.

Woven into the romance of Valancy’s dreams and new life Montgomery included a few subtle lessons, social commentary if you will. Lessons in friendship, charity, generosity, and true Christian brotherly love for a neighbor. Not all the characters in the book learn these lessons, but those who do are forever changed. At the beginning of the novel Valancy’s life is dreary and depressing, but that changes, she changes. Some readers may consider the ending “contrived”, but I thought it very L.M. Montgomery-ish and the end was justified by the twists and turns of the plot. It wasn’t exactly how I expected it to end, but I closed the book with a smile on my face. It is a very satisfying read.

My only objections would be that the introduction to the story did seem to drag on several pages longer than it should have, but the richness for the story makes up this and it is really just a minor fault if it could even be called a fault. Also, (and not at all Montgomery’s fault) I disliked the artwork on the cover of my paperback. As is the case with several of the recent printings, the book cover artwork a picture of Valancy with a man, but neither look remotely like their characters in the book, or even like people looked in the 1920s. Between the cover and the fact my brain was stuck in Anne of Green Gables mode I had some difficulty picturing Valancy in the right time period. Again, this isn’t Montgomery’s fault, more a fault of my own imagination added to by the poor choice in artwork by the publisher and illustrator.

The Blue Castle was L.M. Montgomery’s first attempt at writing an adult novel. In my opinion she succeeded, although it has never had the success of her novels intended for younger readers. Montgomery was able to tell a story that entertained, but also addressed adult themes (i.e. alcoholism, illegitimacy, female independence, romance, etc.) in a tasteful and appropriate way. She dealt with them realistically, but didn’t gloss over or romanticize the issues, nor did she delve into gritty details or graphic scenes. My friend Alison remarked to me the other day how much she appreciate a love scene penned by Montgomery. It is more romantic in its simplicity than any detailed love scene from a modern novel could ever hope to be. All this to say, while this was intended for adults, it could be appropriate for younger readers (teenagers).

On a scale of one to five, one being horrible and five being excellent I would rate The Blue Castle a five. I loved this book, it was a breath of fresh air after my most recent read. For those interested this is definitely a book to be added to a personal library, but if you aren’t able to buy, be sure to borrow a copy from your local library.


Note: Be warned the article about The Blue Castle on Wikipedia contains the entire story plot from start to finish. A reader should not view this article unless they are planning to cheat and spoil the fun of reading this great story.
Posted by Sarah M. at 2:46 PM
Labels: Book Review, Canadian Literature, Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge, Romance

Published in: on January 16, 2009 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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