The L.M. Montgomery Reader: Volume Three

The L.M. Montgomery Reader: Volume Three: A Legacy in Review

Edited by Benjamin Lefebvre
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 464
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt1287q14
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  • Book Info
    The L.M. Montgomery Reader: Volume Three
    Book Description:

    The final volume ofThe L.M. Montgomery Reader,A Legacy in Reviewexamines a long overlooked portion of Montgomery's critical reception: reviews of her books.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6086-1
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: A Legacy in Review
    (pp. 3-48)
    BENJAMIN LEFEBVRE

    In a journal entry dated 1 March 1930, L.M. Montgomery (1874–1942) culled from her scrapbook of newspaper clippings extracts from reviews of her books in the popular press. Her list of contradictory quotations was so extensive – as Montgomery biographer Mary Henley Rubio notes, the project of assembling them “must have taken days” – that only selections are included in the corresponding volume ofThe Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, published in 1998. Montgomery did not identify the source of any of these quotations, but the act of compiling these “slaps and caresses” offered the journal’s posthumous readers a rare glimpse...

  6. A Note on the Text
    (pp. 49-50)
  7. 1 Anne of Green Gables (1908)
    (pp. 51-68)

    When Montgomery provided Ephraim Weber with an account of the sixty reviews ofAnne of Green Gablesthat she had received by early September 1908, she noted that “two were harsh, one contemptuous, two mixed praise and blame and the remaining fifty-five were kind and flattering beyond my highest expectations.”¹ The twenty-two reviews from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom included in their entirety below reflect this range in terms of reviewers’ overall high praise for the novel; while the first known review, in theNew York Times Saturday Review, is rather negative, it certainly did not set...

  8. 2 Anne of Avonlea (1909)
    (pp. 69-83)

    Although the LondonSpectator, in its review ofAnne of Green Gables, had expressed its hope that Montgomery would refrain from writing a sequel, the consensus among reviewers was that this second novel was successful overall even though it did not quite live up to the standard of its predecessor. “This is a story of real life, of rather primitive types, and yet the emotions and purposes are set forth so well that we feel as if we knew the people,” declared thePhiladelphia Inquirer.The Christian Advocateof New York took a somewhat different tack, noting that “the characters...

  9. 3 Kilmeny of the Orchard (1910)
    (pp. 84-91)

    Although Montgomery had reservations about her third novel, reviews were enthusiastic about this unusual romance, which theBoston Globeproclaimed “a fascinating novel and love story.” According to theIdaho Daily Statesman, Montgomery “has sympathetic knowledge of human nature, joined to high ideals, a reasonably romantic view point and a distinct gift of description.” TheSan Francisco Callcautioned that “the two earlier ‘Anne’ stories are better from a literary view point, but this story is sure to win all that class of readers who think a book is fine if it makes them weep,” particularly “girls from 14 to...

  10. 4 The Story Girl (1911)
    (pp. 92-114)

    As these reviews demonstrate, Montgomery’s prediction aboutThe Story Girl– that it was superior toAnne of Green Gablesin terms of literary quality but would not prove as appealing to the public – was entirely correct. Although some reviewers already insisted that no book could live up to the high standard of her first,The Christian Science Monitoropined that “there is a skill in the construction and a finish of style about the book which marks it as the most artistic production of Miss Montgomery’s pen.” A review in theAlloa Journalof Scotland agreed, stating that the novel...

  11. 5 Chronicles of Avonlea (1912)
    (pp. 115-138)

    Although this book was put together as an imperfect substitute for a new full-length Anne novel, and although some reviewers lamented the fact that Anne does not appear as frequently as the cover copy implied, ultimately this volume received high praise because, as theOakland Tribuneof California put it, “In this volume the author establishes her right to be considered one of the best short story writers in our country.”The Christian Science Monitorechoed this view, arguing that “all the insight and charm of the Anne books, with the added grace of a more finished craftsmanship, render this...

  12. 6 The Golden Road (1913)
    (pp. 139-154)

    “The spirit of youth pulsates throughout the volume,” declaredThe Canadian Magazinein its review of this sequel toThe Story Girl, a statement that was echoed in many other reviews of this book. As theEvening Starof Washington, DC, observed in its review of the novel, “The young people who skip and dance and sometimes stumble along the especially golden way that stretches from cover to cover of this refreshing book are merry pilgrims with just enough faults to make them lovably human, and who are good without being prigs.” According to a review in theSpringfield Union...

  13. 7 Anne of the Island (1915)
    (pp. 155-171)

    As I mentioned in the introduction to this volume, Montgomery had some reservations about this highly anticipated second sequel toAnne of Green Gables, and oddly enough, some of the reviewers ofAnne of the Islandseemed to have read Montgomery’s mind about the limits of its appeal in terms of both genre and form. According to theRochester Post, “Anne’s romance has in it nothing very exciting. All along the perspicacious reader knows that Gilbert is to be the favored lover.” As another unidentified clipping pointed out, “it would have been a pity if Anne Shirley had dropped out...

  14. 8 The Watchman and Other Poems (1916)
    (pp. 172-179)

    Given that Montgomery’s poetry has been largely overlooked in the last several decades, it may surprise today’s readers that her book of poems, released in November 1916, received high praise from reviewers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. TheMontreal Witnessreferred to Montgomery as “a poetess of rather notable calibre” and celebrated the volume for the “naturalness of picture, depth of feeling and delicacy of touch which has characterized her earlier writings.” According to an unidentified clipping in Montgomery’s scrapbook, “The entire volume breathes of the sea, the shore, country meadows and hills, morning and evening,...

  15. 9 Anne’s House of Dreams (1917)
    (pp. 180-199)

    Montgomery’s fourth novel about Anne received fairly positive reviews, yet the fact that it appeared with new publishers in Canada and the United States appears to have been largely unnoticed. But its publication in the midst of the Great War was commented on by several reviewers. As theBoston Postnoted, “For relief from all the horrors of these days no recent novel is better thanAnne’s House of Dreams… It is an attractive romance without great excitement, but wholesome and refreshing.” TheSan Jose Mercury Heraldcalled it “a bright little volume but one that few people have...

  16. 10 Rainbow Valley (1919)
    (pp. 200-218)

    Reviews of this book focusing on Anne’s children were largely positive, yet the subtext of the Great War went largely unnoticed. The PhiladelphiaEvening Public Ledgercalled it “wholesome and entertaining to all who do not want highly spiced fiction and are content with the simple joys and sorrows of everyday folk in the country,” whereas theBoston Heraldnoted of the characters that “our author makes amusing play of their impulsive activities and interwoven episodes of neighborhood life.” Orphaned Mary Vance received particular mention in theSan Jose Mercury Heraldas “a character to captivate and astonish fiction readers...

  17. 11 Further Chronicles of Avonlea (1920)
    (pp. 219-223)

    Although Montgomery was staunchly opposed to the publication of this volume and spent eight years fighting to keep it off the market, she nevertheless added some of the reviews to her scrapbook once the lawsuit had wrapped up in her favour in 1928. In spite of her serious reservations about its contents, reviewers were for the most part quite enthusiastic about this unexpected return to Avonlea. “No other author has done for Prince Edward Island as much as L.M. Montgomery in her ‘Avonlea’ tales to make it and its people known to outsiders,” declared thePittsburgh Press. TheBoston Evening...

  18. 12 Rilla of Ingleside (1921)
    (pp. 224-240)

    While many reviewers ofRilla of Inglesideclearly seemed unsure of how to incorporate the Great War in their write-ups about the book, they once again praised the novel for its apparent wholesomeness and simplicity: for theSt. Louis Globe–Democratdeclared it to be “a sweet, simple story of a nice girl and her nice friends, … the kind of story that nice mothers like their daughters to read.” To this theBrooklyn Daily Eagleadded that “in spite of the flood of war stories, Miss Montgomery will hold many of her ‘Anne’ admirers with this romance.” And in...

  19. 13 Emily of New Moon (1923)
    (pp. 241-252)

    The relationship between this novel’s publication in 1923 and its depiction of events at the turn of the twentieth century may be less evident to today’s readers, but some reviews of the book noted that its setting sometime in the Victorian era highlighted the fact that it was meant to appeal nostalgically to adults of the 1920s, who would have remembered the time period in which the novel is set. Noting that the age of the protagonist might cause some people to categorize the book as a juvenile, theSpringfield Republicanof Massachusetts cautioned that “such classification would tend to...

  20. 14 Emily Climbs (1925)
    (pp. 253-268)

    As withEmily of New Moon, reviews ofEmily Climbscelebrated its depiction of a highly appealing title protagonist, an engaging supporting cast of characters, and a story of adolescence that appealed to readers of all ages. In a review in theBoston Herald, John Clair Minot declared that “Miss Montgomery deserves her fast-growing audience for she tells her story with real artistry and with a fine understanding of the things that count in young lives.” ThePittsburgh Chronicle Telegraphcalled the book “one of the most delightful tales published by Mr. Montgomery,” and while thePhiladelphia Inquirerwas tepid...

  21. 15 The Blue Castle (1926)
    (pp. 269-285)

    Reviews ofThe Blue Castletook the book seriously as a major departure for Montgomery, but some of them suggested that her concerns about straying too much from the expectations of her audience were not without foundation: As one unidentified clipping stated, “The name of L.M. Montgomery has long since become a by-word for a certain type of book in Canadian fiction. In fact the novelist from Abegweit has become nothing less than a Canadian institution.” TheDaily Timesof Otago, New Zealand, even suggested that “it is a difficult matter … for an author who has contracted the habit...

  22. 16 Emily’s Quest (1927)
    (pp. 286-296)

    Montgomery may have had some serious misgivings about this final volume about Emily Byrd Starr, but for the most part her pessimism was not shared by reviewers. TheBoston Heralddeclared that in the novel “the young heroine attains success as a writer, but finds that there is a greater goal. She reaches out for happiness – and four young people are swept on to the delightful climax.” TheNatal Mercuryof South Africa commented that “ there is no sickly sentiment or nauseous introspection about it. It is a clean, sprightly book, which everyone will enjoy.” To this theSan...

  23. 17 Magic for Marigold (1929)
    (pp. 297-306)

    It may surprise today’s readers, among whomMagic for Marigoldis rarely a favourite Montgomery title, but reviews of the book after its first publication were quite strong, at times suggesting that Montgomery had not only maintained the high standard set withAnne of Green Gablesbut surpassed it. As theAustralian Christian Worldnoted, “This must be her sixteenth book, yet it is packed with the same whimsical charm, as her well-lovedAnne of Green Gableswhich so delighted us almost twenty years ago.” An unidentified clipping added that Montgomery was “getting better and better” and, moreover, that this...

  24. 18 A Tangled Web / Aunt Becky Began It (1931)
    (pp. 307-314)

    Montgomery was annoyed at the fact that this novel was available asA Tangled Webin Canada, the United States, and Australia and asAunt Becky BeganIt in England, but regardless of what title reviewers called it, they were almost unanimous in their praise. ThePortland Newsof Maine called it “one of those family stories, etched with the precision of an artist … the story is woven, a wise understanding of human nature guiding the pen that writes the several histories of the Darks.” Montgomery even underlined extracts from a review in her scrapbook appearing in theJacksonville...

  25. 19 Pat of Silver Bush (1933)
    (pp. 315-326)

    Although scholars have claimed that Montgomery’s literary reputation had begun to wane in the 1930s, reviews of this later novel about a young girl growing up on a Prince Edward Island farm remained largely positive. ThePortland Journalof Oregon noted that “a charming feature of Miss Montgomery’s stories is that they are wholesome and inspiring rather than stickily sweet,” whereas theMorning Bulletinof Australia called it “a wholesome story that youth will read with eagerness, and age with quiet introspection.” Carl Tarbox, writing in theKnickerbocker Pressof Albany, New York, noted that “this is one of the...

  26. 20 Courageous Women (1934)
    (pp. 327-328)
    MARIAN KEITH and MABEL BURNS McKINLEY

    For this volume of biographies of fifteen women from all over the world, Montgomery collaborated with Marian Keith – pseudonym of Mary Esther MacGregor (1872–1961), best known for her novelDuncan Polite– and Mabel Burns McKinley (1881–1974), author of the biographiesCanadian Heroines of Pioneer Days(1929) andCanadian Heroes of Pioneer Days(1930); Montgomery’s three chapters appear in Volume 1 ofThe L.M. Montgomery ReaderThe volume appeared in aToronto Daily Starad for “Christmas Books – For the Whole Family,” under the category “Little Brothers and Sisters.” Although the volume did not get widely reviewed and evidently...

  27. 21 Mistress Pat: A Novel of Silver Bush (1935)
    (pp. 329-333)

    Reviews of this novel showed no awareness of any strain caused by the circumstances in Montgomery’s life as she wrote this follow-up toPat of Silver Bush; if anything, what they liked about it was that it duplicated all the appealing aspects of her earlier work. TheWashington Postcalled it the story of “another sweet and simple girlhood on Prince Edward Island,” whereas the WilliamsburgJournal–Tribuneof Iowa noted that “because the author writes of health and happiness and humor, her books are unfailing refreshment and a welcome relief from fiction of problems and complexes.” At the same...

  28. 22 Anne of Windy Poplars / Anne of Windy Willows (1936)
    (pp. 334-339)

    Although Montgomery had doubts about the literary quality of this novel and about her success in recapturing the appeal of the earlier Anne books, coverage of Anne Shirley’s unexpected return to fiction, particularly so soon after the hit 1934 film, was highly positive. “At last a new story of Anne Shirley, beloved heroine of that modern classic,Anne of Green Gables!” announced an ad in theGlobe and Mail. “A charming romance to delight Miss Montgomery’s great audience of readers, young and old.” According to theLewiston Daily Sunof Maine, “The passing of time in no way dims the...

  29. 23 Jane of Lantern Hill (1937)
    (pp. 340-344)

    This late novel received fewer reviews than evenAnne of Inglesidewould, but the reviews it did receive were enthusiastic. TheSpringfield Sunday Union and Republicanof Massachusetts called Jane “as versatile and fascinating a heroine as her predecessors” and echoed a statement made by this newspaper fifteen years earlier, aboutEmily of New Moon: “This book may rate as a juvenile, but older people will perhaps appreciate its sentiment more than their juniors.” Indeed, although theAthens Banner– Heraldof Georgia, commenting on the novel’s break from fantasy and fancy so common in children’s books, called it “realistic with...

  30. 24 Anne of Ingleside (1939)
    (pp. 345-352)

    While more recent scholars have paid closer attention to the more distressing aspects of this final novel – namely, the cracks appearing in the foundation of Anne and Gilbert’s marriage and an episode involving the funeral of an abusive man in the community – reviewers in 1939 kept their focus on the depiction of idealized family life. “ Hours of delightful reading lie between the covers of this book,” declared Bill East in theWinston– Salem Sentinelof North Carolina. “Humor and pathos march side by side and Anne Blythe, through all the joyous adventures and the small misadventures, remains the same...

  31. Epilogue: Posthumous Titles, 1960–2013
    (pp. 353-390)
    BENJAMIN LEFEBVRE

    L.M. Montgomery died at her home in Toronto on 24 April 1942, more than three and a half years after the publication ofAnne of Ingleside. Although obituaries and tributes appeared in newspapers and magazines across North America – many of them reprinted in Volume 1 ofThe L.M. Montgomery Reader– far less attention was paid to a publishing event that coincided with her death: the first Canadian editions, by the Ryerson Press, ofAnne of Green Gables,Anne of Avonlea, andAnne of the Island. As Sandra Campbell notes in her recent bookBoth Hands: A Life of Lorne Pierce...

  32. Sources
    (pp. 391-412)
  33. Bibliography
    (pp. 413-438)
  34. Index
    (pp. 439-453)