Monday, February 11, 2008

Kindred Spirits

Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of my favorite authors. If the name sounds familiar, it's probably because you know her most famous book: Anne of Green Gables.

Oddly enough, that isn't the book I like best. Oh sure, it's the first one I discovered and I think it's great, but she wrote other books that I fell in love with even more.

Although most people only know the first book in the series, L.M. Montgomery actually wrote eight novels about Anne. Here are my favorite Anne books:
  • Anne of the Island. Anne goes to college and rejects suitors right and left. I think this book may be the one I like the best in the whole series. It has a lovely timeless quality to it.
  • Anne's House of Dreams. This book chronicles the first few years of Anne's marriage. There's heartbreak and love in it and it's wonderful to see Anne grow up and her relationships develop. I have to say, though, that I recently re-read this book, and found it contained far more sexist attitudes towards women than I remembered.
  • Rilla of Ingleside. This book contains the story of Anne's daughter growing up during World War One. I learned a lot from this book when I first read it, and the images of war it presents have always stayed with me.
I also love the series of books about Emily of New Moon. My favorite book in that series is:
  • Emily's Quest. This is the third book in the Emily series and is quite haunting in parts. It moves me every time I read it. Also, this is the series that I've always considered to be the most autobiographical of L.M. Montgomery, so I think the occasional sadness and despair in it affect me more.
And, I can't forget the two books about Pat of Silver Bush.
  • Mistress Pat, the second book in the series, is the one I like the best. There's something intriguing about Pat's devotion to her house. Also, aspects of Pat's story are similar to Emily's, which I've always found interesting. I think it contains my least favorite male name, though. The hero's name is Jingle. That's never really worked for me.
Another book I like (but it isn't part of a series) is:
  • A Tangled Web. This book brings all of L.M. Montgomery's major stories together in one book. It's like reading short versions of all her other books.
I've read every book that L.M. Montgomery wrote. What's my favorite book of all? Hands down, it's:
  • The Blue Castle. It's not very well known at all, and it's the only book she wrote that is not set on Prince Edward Island. It's about a woman, Valancy Stirling, who is told she only has a year to live. She completely reinvents herself in a wonderful way. I think this is the most romantic of all of L.M. Montgomery's books.
Why am I mentioning this author now? 2008 is the one hundredth anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables, which was originally published in 1908. There are lots of celebrations going on in honor of this famous red-haired orphan.

Interested in more about L.M. Montgomery? The best and most comprehensive book I've ever found on the subject (and I found it when I was visiting the site of the author's childhood home on Prince Edward Island) is called The Lucy Maud Montgomery Album. This five hundred page book is an absolute masterpiece, complete with rich essays and photographs from both family members and scholars that chronicle and honor the life of this wonderful author. It's being re-released in March 2008.

There's also a new Anne of Green Gables book about to be published called Before Green Gables. It's a prequel to the first book, and is written by Budge Wilson. See this post by Cheryl Rainfeld for more details.

Do you have a favorite book by L.M. Montgomery? Let me know in the comments, or vote in the new poll on the sidebar.

12 comments:

  1. I too have read all of the Anne Books several times. Rilla was the first book to make me cry. I was only 11 yrs. old at the time. I have almost all of the other LMM books that you mentioned sitting on my shelf just waiting until my daughter is old enough before I share them with her.

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  2. I have TONS of Anne of Green Gables merchandise from a trip my grandparents took to Prince Edward Isle, but I have to say that I have never been too big a fan of that red-headed orphan. I think it might just be a reaction to all the jokes people make about my name in connection to her.

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  3. I feel about Anne of Green Gables the way you do about Harry Potter. I love those books to death - literally as evidenced by all my worn, dog-eared copies with the covers falling off. Anne of the Island is my favorite by far - I loved the life she lived with her girlfriends at Patty's Place.

    As much as I love Anne, I have to agree with you - The Blue Castle is my down right favorite of the LMM books. I stumbled on it accidentally at a library used book sale and fell in love with it. So few people know about it - I'm glad you feel the same way!

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  4. It's so funny that you wrote this post because I was just thinking of you and your love of Anne of Green Gables last week when I saw an LM Montgomery book on the sale shelf at the library. Something about the Story Girl. Can't remember the title.
    Also, have you read _Among the Shadows_? It is no longer in print but I have a copy if you ever want to read it. It's "tales from the darker side," so the cover claims. It's been a while since I read it but I seem to remember liking it.

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  5. Good old Lucy Maude. I always liked Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley best, I think because of the emphasis on younger characters and their scrapes. I didn't really get an appreciation for Anne's college and teaching days until reading them as a grown-up. I like Rilla pretty well, too, but I am still mad about Walter!!!

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  6. sarah at thereadingzoneFebruary 11, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    I LOVE LM Montgomery. I read the entire series multiple times growing up. I have a special place in my heart for Rilla of Ingleside, too.

    But my absolute favorite of her books is the Emily series. I have a few editions published in 1920 and they are amazing!

    I have not read The Blue Castle, so I will need to add that to my pile!

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  7. I love The Blue Castle, too! It's nice to see you mention it. :) It's one of my favorites--but so are most of the Anne books. I also like Emily of New Moon, especially the first few. And thanks for the mention of my blog. :)

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  8. Sea Star- Yes, there's one part in Rilla that always makes me cry too. You're far more organized than I am... I have my LMM books all over my house, because I reread my favorites every now and again.

    Anne- That's okay. You must be sick of hearing "Anne spelled with an E."

    Cary's Girl- I met Anne long before I met Harry... so she's always had a special place in my heart. My LMM books are dogeared and falling apart too. It's wonderful to hear that I'm not the only one! Isn't Anne of the Island great? Who wouldn't want to live in Patty's Place?

    You love The Blue Castle too? I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one! There's something about that book that just gets me everytime I read it.

    Jody- that's very funny! And, you're right... you knew me in sixth grade, when I was devouring LMM books. I do have the Story Girl (and the sequel).

    Among the Shadows is one of her short story collections... I got it at a used book store on Prince Edward Island (with a lot of other out-of-print LMM books).

    Lisa- that's so interesting that we like different books. I think it's because I had a tough time with the scrapes of the younger characters- and was always more interested in Anne herself. I'm still mad about Walter too.

    Sarah- The Emily series is really powerful... particularly the last book. How wonderful that you have some of the early editions. I'm delighted to introduce a LMM fan to The Blue Castle. What an honor!

    Cheryl- how nice to see all this love for The Blue Castle! And you're very welcome about the link. You did a such a great job summarizing the new book. I'm curious to read it.

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  9. Susan, thanks for this post. I've been thinking about Anne what with all the hoopla surrounding the 100th. I've reread that series many times (and my favorites in that series are, unbelievably, the exact same as yours), also the Emily series; but I haven't read anything else by L.M. Montgomery. Where should I begin? With The Blue Castle?

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  10. Anamaria- that really is amazing that your favorites in the Anne series are the same as mine. A lot of people like Anne of the Island and Rilla of Ingleside... but I don't think everyone likes Anne's House of Dreams as much as I do.

    The Blue Castle is a good place to start because it's a stand-alone book. Also, if you have time and you like the Emily series... give Pat of Silver Bush, and the sequel Mistress Pat a try. Since you're local, I'd be happy to lend them to you. The Blue Castle is on my bedside table because with all this discussion of it, I... ummm...read it again. I'll have to take a look around for the others.

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  11. Jennifer LanthierMarch 6, 2008 at 4:20 PM

    It's so great to read all these posts about "other" L.M. Montgomery books loved by readers. I have a deeper appreciation for Anne of Green Gables now - but as a child I too preferred The Blue Castle, Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside, as well as The Story Girl, The Golden Road, Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea.

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  12. I am now a very old lady living in Northern Ireland. I have all of L M Montgomery's books and all five of the Journals. I still read them all from time to time and enjoy them as much as ever. I was introduced to the "Anne" books by my Sunday School teacher who met
    L M Montgomery. I am forever grateful.

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