Having decided that I'd make a special little critical reading project of Lucy Maud Montgomery through this winter it then became incumbent upon me to accumulate the tools for the task.
I enjoy choosing one author and then reading around them with a bit of accessible academic writing too, so the Lucy Maud books have been trickling in for the last few months.
I already have my ancient old copies of Anne of Green Gables and one or two others but they are all as cheap as chips in new copies so I splurged and The Book Depository kindly sent.
Suddenly I realise the Lucy Maud shelf is looking quite full and it must be time to make a start.
The novels fairly easy to find in new paperback editions but the journals have taken some tracking down.
I'm still looking for Volume IV at the cost of less than the national debt.I exaggerate but £70 a bit over the top.
Whatever your thoughts about her fiction Lucy Maud's journals do make fascinating reading. She certainly knew they would eventually be published and spent many hours copying old diaries into a legible and readable format but as the editors acknowledge,
"L.M.Montgomery was artist enough to be aware that she was working at a loom for which all the threads were not yet given"
which I think is a good analogy for a journal, it shapes itself into your story, you can have no idea where it will go.Much of Lucy Maud's later life spent in a state of anxiety and depression as she dealt with her husband's mental illness and her children's problems, all a far cry from those jolly little heroines who go through a bit of a life crisis before they find happiness.I'm intrigued to discover the woman behind the writing and it may not all be the stuff of sweetness and light and kindred spirits.
"the journal became more and more a necessary confidant - and not only for woe but also for amusement, for self-mockery, for reflective thought, and of course and always, for the flashes of intense response to natural beauty".
The search for some reasonably readable critical writing took me through blizzard, wilderness and an avalanche or two but eventually I discovered L.M.Montgomery and Canadian Culture edited by Irene Gammel and Elizabeth Epperly. I've had to wait months for it to arrive but now I see loads in stock everywhere, probably could have bought it in Tescos. I love CanLit and have read in and around it for years now, so a book which mines the "Canadianness of Montgomery's writing" was a must.
Margaret Atwood, Jane Urquhart and Alice Munro have all expressed their indebtedness to Lucy Maud, Susan Hill perhaps less so but perhaps she just never fancied being a kindred spirit with Anne Shirley and drifting off in a boat whilst quoting The Lady of Shalott.I was always doing that even though I could never muster the matching auburn red plaits and clearly others would have just cut Anne's off given the chance!
I'll report back on the Lucy Maud project through the winter months and shall probably fancy a virtual trip to Prince Edward Island from my armchair for good measure.Susan without an 'e' won't be joining me in case you missed this link first or second time round.
Let's all own up, Lucy Maud haters hie thee over there >>>>>and pull the poor little orphan girl to pieces.
Lucy Maud kindreds you are most welcome here, Marilla has baked a cake and Matthew will be in once he's finished that ploughing and we'll be having a quilting bee.
If anyone reading this lives anywhere near Prince Edward Island then go visit forthwith and please please come back and tell us all about it. I suspect Lucy Maud has spawned a big industry and perhaps I need to order an Anne Shirley doll now I think about it.