The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass

The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass: L.M. Montgomery's Heroines and the Pursuit of Romance

ELIZABETH ROLLINS EPPERLY
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 322
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt6wrfvv
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  • Book Info
    The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass
    Book Description:

    Focusing on Montgomery's memorable heroines, Epperly demonstrates that Montgomery deserves a place in the literary canon not just as the creator ofAnne of Green Gablesbut as an artist in her chosen profession.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1938-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the 2014 Edition
    (pp. ix-xlii)
  4. Permissions
    (pp. xliii-xliii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xliv-xliv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xlv-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    L.M. Montgomery’s writing changes people’s lives. To those accustomed to thinking of her as a writer for children, who presumably forget her when they grow up, or as a complacent and dismissible scribbler of romances, to hear that Montgomery’s writing profoundly affects the way people think about themselves will sound absurd. But it is true: thousands of readers identify with and are inspired by Montgomery’s characters, descriptions, and romanticized realism. Why?

    Montgomery crosses cultural and generational lines in her phenomenal, continuing popularity. Polish soldiers in the Second World War were issued copies ofAnne of the Islandto take to...

  8. PART I ANNE

    • Romancing the Voice: Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 17-38)

      The most successful and best-loved¹ of Montgomery’s twenty novels has been her first,Anne of Green Gables(1908). In creating the story of the irrepressible redhead, Montgomery also established the pattern for all her novels and their heroines: the love for/creation of home and the exploration/declaration of self are themes Montgomery pursues in the eight Anne novels as well as with Kilmeny, the King children, Emily, Valancy, Marigold, Pat, the Dark and Penhallow clans, and Jane. At their best, Montgomery’s heroines outface misunderstanding and underestimation; they learn to follow their own voices; they challenge constraint and expectation; they strive to...

    • Romance Awry: Anne of Avonlea
      (pp. 39-55)

      When the L.C. Page Company acceptedAnne of Green Gables,it requested a sequel immediately. Under enormous private pressure from her grandmother and from her life in the community, Maud Montgomery blocked out her story and then wrote doggedly, suffering a form of nervous breakdown when she had finished it. She was surprised at the popularity of this sequel,Anne of Avonlea(1909), because she felt that the second book was unequal to the first.

      Fans didn’t seem to notice – so long as they got more of Anne they didn’t care how the patterns ofAnne of Green Gableswere exploited...

    • Recognition: Anne of the Island
      (pp. 56-74)

      In 1913, four years after the publication ofAnne of Avonlea,the L.C. Page Company persuaded L.M. Montgomery to write a third Anne novel. In the meantime she had expanded a short story, ‘Una of the Garden,’ intoKilmeny of the Orchard(1910), written her own personal favourite of all her novels,The Story Girl(1911), and its sequel,The Golden Road(1913), and had refashioned some already-published short stories so that they sometimes included Anne Shirley and Avonlea families and published them under the titleChronicles of Avonlea(1912). But it was a full-length story of Anne that fans...

    • ‘This Enchanted Shore’: Anne’s House of Dreams
      (pp. 75-94)

      Written from June to October of 1916, right in the bleak middle of the First World War,Anne’s House of Dreams(1917) is a passionate celebration of home and love. Potentially the most sentimental of all the Anne books, since it presents the long-awaited marriage of Anne and Gilbert, Montgomery’s fourth Anne novel is instead a tightly woven, wise story. This is not a novel about wedded bliss, but is instead about friendships, particularly Anne’s with Leslie Moore. Facing grief and pain, each woman learns from the other something about the healing, active powers of love. Without referring to it,...

    • Heroism’s Childhood: Rainbow Valley
      (pp. 95-111)

      Anne’s House of Dreamswas written in the middle of the war as though there is no war in store for Anne. The novel is set some twenty years before the First World War, and Montgomery is careful not to include anachronistic, direct references to it. Yet the whole book is really a response to war — it demonstrates what the home fires mean, what the beacon of faith and trust can mean. In short, Montgomery’s poetic novel suggests that love is an active force that can defeat evil. The Four Winds life is open to all who cherish the traditions...

    • Womanhood and War: Rilla of Ingleside
      (pp. 112-130)

      More than any of her other novels,Rilla of Ingleside(1920) is Montgomery’s celebration of the female. It is an authentic war novel, Canada’s only contemporary fictionalized woman’s account of the First World War, and Montgomery wrote it as a ‘tribute to the girlhood of Canada’ (Gillen 79). She dedicated it to Frede Campbell MacFarlane, her dearest friend, who had become a war bride and had died in January 1919 of the Spanish flu, the deadly plague the war brought in its wake. WhileAnne’s House of Dreamsencapsulates home as an attitude and place beyond the desecration of bayonet...

    • Recapturing the Anne World: Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside
      (pp. 131-142)

      Despite Montgomery’s solemn oath in 1920 that she was finished with Anne,Rilla of Inglesidewas not to be the last of the Anne books. In 1936, to satisfy ‘pleading publishers,’ Montgomery publishedAnne of Windy Poplars(calledAnne of Windy Willowsin Britain); and then in 1939 she filled in more gaps in Anne’s story withAnne of Ingleside,her last completed novel.Windy Poplarscovers the three years, before Anne’s marriage, that she was principal of Summerside High School, andInglesidedeals with the early days of Anne’s children (beforeRainbow Valley). Nor were these two the end...

  9. PART II EMILY

    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 143-148)

      When Montgomery had finished what she hoped would be the last of the Anne books in 1920 and badly wanted a new heroine, she conjured up Emily. But in the very same breath that she told her journal about Emily, she also said: ‘And I want – oh, I want to write – something entirely different from anything I have written yet. I am becoming classed as a “writer for young people” and that only. I want to write a book dealing with grown-up creatures – a psychological study of one human being’s life’ (Journals2: 390). She did not write an adult...

    • The Struggle for Voice: Emily of New Moon
      (pp. 149-167)

      As we experience Emily’s growing up, we feel how the books and poems she savours are shaping and reflecting her own sense of self. The narrator reinforces, by allusion or echo or ironic association, what Emily is actually going through.Emily of New Moon(1923) chronicles Emily’s early development – the book opens when she is eleven years old and ends when she is thirteen. At the outset her father is about to die and leave her an orphan. The narrator tells us, in a few paragraphs, about Emily’s rapture with language and her determined search for the right words in...

    • Testing the Voice: Emily Climbs
      (pp. 168-181)

      Emily’s childhood is neatly partitioned off from her adolescence by the psychic experience of death and renewal (Use’s mother’s ‘legitimate’ death restores Dr Burnley’s faith in women and life).Emily of New Moonends on an upbeat note, with Emily’s triumph with Mr Carpenter and her decision to write her own story as a diary. Emily has won a place and the liberty to explore it. InEmily Climbs(1925), which covers Emily’s three years at Shrewsbury High School, we find her grappling with others’ conceptions of art and with her own voice. Now she says what she thinks about...

    • Love and Career: Emily’s Quest
      (pp. 182-208)

      The first eleven chapters of the total twenty-seven ofEmily’s Quest(1927) focus on the relationship of Dean and Emily and on Emily’s consequent mistrust of her inner voice. The central psychic experience of this novel occurs in these chapters as a response to the deepest needs of the woman and the writer. Because she believes so implicitly in Dean – despite her intuition of his jealousy – Emily does not credit herself with understanding when her writing is good. Instead she lets Dean decide and, when he lies to her, she is almost destroyed – as woman and as writer. This last...

  10. PART III THE OTHER HEROINES

    • Romancing the Home: Pat of Silver Bush, Mistress Pat, Jane of Lantern Hill
      (pp. 211-227)

      All Montgomery’s heroines experience powerful love of the physical home – sometimes, as with Anne, several homes. Following the best of nineteenth-century tradition, Montgomery enshrines home as a sacred centre for family and for the developing self. She also borrowed from nineteenth-century novelists the device of suggesting character traits through houses – both in giving houses personalities of their own and in using descriptions of houses to characterize the people who live in them. First Green Gables, then Patty’s Place, then the House of Dreams, then Ingleside (and, in the recreated past, the house Windy Poplars) are home centres for Anne, and...

    • A Changing Heroism: An Overview of the Other Novels
      (pp. 228-248)

      Tired out from writingAnne ofAvonlea(1909) at breakneck speed, Maud Montgomery was not ready to create a third novel for the Page Company right away. Instead she decided to take a 24,000-word story she had already published under the title ‘Una of the Garden’ and stretch it into a 48,000-word novel. The Page Company was pleased but changed the heroine’s name and the work’s title toKilmeny of the Orchard. The writing in it belongs to formula romance fiction and shows little of the sophistication or irony we find inAnne of Green Gablesor evenAnne of Avonlea....

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 249-250)

    As an extremely popular writer, Montgomery captures and reflects expectations and dreams of her culture – especially those of girls and women. Montgomery’s novels are really fictional biographies, stories that show the patterns of many women’s lives, then and now. When we recognize how the boundaries of the novel and of biography are similar, we can understand the importance of the patterns Montgomery repeated. Carolyn Heilbrun, inWriting a Woman’s Life, says: ‘Roland Barthes has called biography “a novel that dare not speak its name,” and the understanding that biographies are fictions, constructions by the biographer of the story she or...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 251-260)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 261-266)
  14. Index
    (pp. 267-275)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 276-276)