I did not read Anne of Green Gables until I saw the recent TV production. I knew nothing of the red haired girl with freckles who talked a mile a minute. I didn’t know about her trip from an awful asylum to “the Island, the bloomiest place. . . .I used to imagine I was living here, but I never really expected I would. It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?” The TV program turned out to be the teaser for me to the delights of being a friend of this imaginative girl who listened to the trees talking in their sleep, and set to naming the landscapes around her, the Lake of Shining Waters, the Birch Path, the Haunted Wood, and Lovers Lane.
Like Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, Anne was a character who loved the natural world, who found her joy and solace in the fields, the flowers and woodlands, the winds and the beaming sun. Anne is a character who has been loved by children, and inevitably adults, ever since it was published in 1908. Maud Montgomery, as she preferred to be called, was encouraged to write several more Anne books like Anne of Avonlea and Anne’s House of Dreams about her marriage and life as a wife. But it is her later books, including Emily of the New Moon, that she thought were her best works.
The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery by Catherine Reid (Timber Press $24.95) is a beautiful introduction to Anne, the life of L.M. Montgomery and the landscapes of Prince Edward Island, PEI. It is liberally sprinkled with quotations from her books and from her journals. The pages are also filled with beautiful photographs of the beflowered and forested areas of Prince Edward Island, and the waters that surrounded the island.
The book is divided into seven sections beginning with an Introduction to L.M. Montgomery’s life and Anne’s. The Kindred Orphans section compares the similarities and differences between Montgomery who had many relatives and Anne who had none. Though their circumstances were different, they suffered, and rejoiced in similar ways.
The Loveliest Spot on Earth is about Prince Edward Island then and now; Emerald Screens takes us on a visit to Maud’s and Anne’s favorite gardens on PEI; and A World with Octobers is a beautiful description of all the seasons on the Island. These sections are especially useful to someone who is planning to visit PEI, but they will gladden and delight all those who love Anne.
Something More Poetical: the Scope of Two Imaginations and That Great and Solemn Wood: A Writer’s Life will carry today’s reader into Anne and Montgomery’s hopes and trials. Early on Montgomery knew she wanted to be a writer. She even published a poem, On Cape LeForce, in a PEI newspaper when she was only 16. It is wonderful to discover the many other books she wrote. She also kept journals that looked very much like scrapbooks, with her own thoughts written down along with pictures cut from magazines and other writings. These are now preserved in different museums, including the Green Gables Heritage Place where Montgomery spent so much of her childhood.
Montgomery, like Anne, found solace in the beauties of the natural world. Solace was needed. No one’s life is without difficulties. We hear about Anne’s brief sorrows, and in the last pages we learn about Montgomery’s sorrows and trials. Her husband suffered from a mental illness, and her scoundrel of a publisher cheated her on her royalties. There were several exhausting law suits against him; there were also disappointments in her adult son, Chester. She died in her sleep in 1942. Anne continues to live on for readers young and old.
I did not know before this post was published in the Greenfield Recorder, but now I know that author Catherine Reid is a Greenfield native. So many talented and skilled people in this part of the world. We are all lucky!
Cluck: A book of happiness for chicken lovers is edited by Freya Haanen. ( Exisle Publishing $19.99 US) This is a cheerful book with bright photos of chickens living their chicken lives, in their dust baths, with nests of eggs, crowing in the dawn, visiting with the rabbits and much more. The photos are on the left hand page, with a proverb on the opposite page. I thought several of the proverbs were quite apropos of our political world right now.
Think of these. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.
One of the Nigerian proverbs in the book states “A bird does not change its feathers because the weather is bad.” I particularly like this as we look to our legislators to keep our government on an even keel.
And in this land of #Metoo there is Margaret Thatcher’s proverb: The cocks may crow but it’s the hen that lays the egg” I have used these words in the past but never knew I was quoting Prime Minister Thatcher.
Cluck is a cheerful and thoughtful gift book for anyone with chickens, or longing for chickens. There are other books of happiness for dog and horse lovers, Woof and Spirit with equally appropriate quotations in various flavors of philosophy and light-heartedness. ###
Between the Rows February 2, 2019