Book Review: Shatter

Shatter (Glitter, Bk. 2) by Aprilynne Pike
Random House, 2018, 373pp.

Trigger warning: This book contains disturbing thematic material that may be unsuitable for all ages.

I finally finished the duology that is Glitter, and I can say that as a reader, I appreciate that the story can be summed up in two books, rather than dragged out for the overused trilogy or even-longer series of titles. That is not to say that I don’t understand or appreciate the appeal of series books (in fact, I often enjoy them), however, stretching out a story longer than necessary is as grave a literary sin in my opinion as is making a trilogy out of a single book. Fantasy lovers are more than welcome to speculate which film series I mean here.

Shatter opens two days after Danica’s wedding day to King Justin, the one she never intended to participate in. Further embroiled in court life, Dani realizes she must master the games of nobility if she is to secure her freedom, and that of her beloved, Saber. To do so, she will have to beat a mastermind of evil with his own stratagems and risk her own soul in the process. Shatter asks us, is the price worth paying?

This is an emotionally difficult book to read and I had to set it down for a couple of weeks before picking it up again and finishing it finally. After deciding to blog about my reads (even the ones that turn out to be negative), I wanted to compose my thoughts to share with you while they were still fresh in mind. And this was a doozy.

Dani struggles with the consequences of her actions and the toll it takes on her physical body, her sanity and her soul — how far is too far? When do the ends not justify the means? I really liked how supportive Saber is but he’s far from a submissive doormat. He stands up to her. He balances her out and is her anchor that gives her meaning. He is quintessentially, the central character and driving force of the novel.

A bride by blackmail, Dani’s silence ensures her life and that of her father, even as she will try to find a way to fight her way to freedom, and yes, that may mean getting her face bloodied in the process. Dani’s journey is by no means an “easy, breezy read”, and perhaps not suitable for all audiences. If you enjoyed Glitter then I would recommend you pick up a copy of Shatter and give it a try. If you do, be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Advertisements

Book Review: Glitter

Glitter (Glitter, Bk. 1) by Aprilynne Pike
Random House, 2016, 367pp.

Trigger warning: This book contains instances of self-harm. No matter what you are going through, you don’t have to be alone. Reach out to someone near you that you trust. Ask for help to get through your situation. Don’t abuse yourself.

In an alternate timeline of the present day, everything in France is normal, except that in the palace of Versailles, the monarchy is very much alive, and ruled by a corrupt, young king, who has just committed murder. When the sole witness to the crime, a teenager named Danica, is blackmailed into becoming his future queen, she will do anything to escape her fate, even if it means cooperating with a drug dealer to smuggle the latest craze, Glitter, into the hands of the court elite. But as Danica will learn, blackmail and murder are only the beginnings of danger in these gilded halls.

This was a great book. I loved it. The world is just close enough to ours that it sort of defies genre classification. It’s a bit of a romance, a lot of adventure, and a bit of science-fiction. It’s got a contemporary feel with a moody twist (readers who enjoyed The Selection, will understand). It has the aesthetic of a period film like Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. It’s got an otherwise ordinary person forced into extraordinary actions out of desperation…in other words, a compelling motivation to read.

It’s not really giving the plot away to discuss the method of distribution for the drugs — they’re mixed inside of cosmetics. They’re also NOT disclosed in the list of ingredients, so, it’s easy to unknowingly get hooked and the product itself becomes crazy-popular. I thought this was a unique way to introduce narcotics into a closed group like the court, where historically, 17th century makeup and skincare would have contained harmful elements like lead and mercury. Learn more about 17th century beauty treatments at Wonders and Marvels. The integration makes it both believable and alarming, as Danica resorts to more and more ambiguous means to free herself from the depravity of the king.

The palace itself is huge and Danica’s movements evading being caught in her transgressions could easily become bewildering to follow and overwhelming, but fortunately for us, someone did the tremendous amount of work of including a detailed floor plan of the palace, and labeling some thirty-plus rooms, plus antechambers, courtyards and cabinets, the perfect spots for plotting and assignations.

Glitter is the first of a two-book series, the sequel, Shatter, was published in 2018, and at the time of this writing, I’m looking to order a copy to read what I am hoping will be quite the conclusion. Already a fan of Glitter or ready to give it a try? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux

review-pink1


The Specs:
Title: Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day
Author: Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ
Published: 2014 by Loyola Press
Length: 123 pages
Amazon Categories: Meditations
Source: Overdrive (free); Kindle price: $8.79


 Every time I talk about Mark Thibodeaux’s book, I always get the title wrong but when I explain, I think you’ll understand why. While it’s true that the author reimagines the original examen of St. Ignatius of Loyola in a fresh way, after immersing in this book and its devotional exercises for prayer and meditation, I think you will find that it reignites your faith and prayer life. So, I wish on some level that the title was Reigniting the Ignatian Examen, because I think that the contents of this simple prayer has the potential to stir those coals in our hearts and reawaken the embers of our prayer lives. It certainly is rekindling mine.

The book isn’t terribly long for the price and that may be my biggest negative critique. I like a chunky book when I’m paying more than $2.99 for an ebook. But where Thibodeaux could have tripled the length of the book and bogged it down in unnecessarily long treatises on prayer and meditation, or on the background of St. Ignatius and the original examen, he chose to take a different approach.

The first few chapters talk about how he approaches the examen and on creating your own opening and closing ritual. The remainder of the book is thirty-four days of meditations/prayer with different subjects, building upon what you’ve previously gone over. Ideally, one for every day of the month, and a few extras in case one or two just didn’t click for you.

There is also an appendix where Thibodeaux talks about some of the terms he uses (like praydreaming and prayimagining), which helped me immensely as I began my own journey through the examen. For the sake of full disclosure, I am still working my way through the book and God willing, will continue to be doing the meditations for some time to come. Since the majority of the book is just the individual guided prayers/reflections, you’re better off reading them at the pace prescribed, rather than treating the book as something to be rushed through and checked off a list.

The author recommends beginning once a day and advancing to twice a day (at lunch, and at dinner) and when you reflect upon your day, you can reflect upon how your morning went, and how you expect the afternoon to go, and then at the evening examen, review how it actually went, and how you expect tomorrow morning to go. This idea of a daily review, or even a twice-daily review, can really be an excellent way of keeping God at the center of our focus.

The examen will prompt questions such as…

Are we really living each moment to please God? Where are we acting in the faith, hope and charity that all Christians should be? In what areas are we floundering? What can we learn about our mistakes and resolve to do differently the next time? What do we think that God is trying to tell us about this area in our lives (or the areas we are guided to by the reflections)?

If this sounds like something that you’d be interested in exploring, please check out Mark E. Thibodeaux’s book, and leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Walk It Out by Tricia Goyer

review-pink1


The Specs:
Title: Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time
Author: Tricia Goyer
Published: 2017 by David C Cook
Length: 224 pages
Amazon Categories: Religion & Spirituality; Women’s Issues
Source: Kindle purchase, $2.99


Tricia Goyer has one of those personal stories that inspires from the pulpit and in print, and is ironically, the exact kind of story that I’d avoid reading, let alone purchasing. Attempting a just and fair description of a lifetime of pain and brokenness might cheapen the redemptive story of a life radically transformed by God. And that is certainly Tricia’s story, and the subheading which drew my attention one frosty January morning, idly browsing the bestsellers when the Holy Spirit prompted me to ‘read this one next’.

If I knew this would be the story of a teenage mother struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, a mother who had already terminated a pregnancy before, I’m not sure that I ever would’ve cracked the cover. As I am writing this, it is January and that is Sanctity of Life Month, so, it seems particularly fitting that God drew me to this book, in this season. What is remarkable about Tricia’s story is how God not only healed her pain, but used her story as a catalyst to reach out to others hurting from or facing the same difficult choices, and through Goyer’s apostolate of mercy, are being offered a better path.

Walk It Out emerged from Goyer’s decision to stop searching for a calling and begin taking God at His Word, and doing what He says, ala James 1:22. To sum up what the book is about, I offer this quote from Goyer (pg 32):

“Whether you realize it or not, God intended for us to do what the Bible says: take the gospel into all the world, care for the vulnerable, help the needy, tend to our most important relationships. These are guideposts that point us down the path of true living and eternal life.”

The next ten chapters proceed to do just that, addressing each of these different areas with stories from people Tricia’s spoken with, or from anecdotes from her own life. At its core, Tricia points us continually back to engaging with God in His work and His plan — choosing to be with Him — than filling our lives with empty actions as we try to be perfect Christians and miss Christ. If this message sounds familiar, you may not have noticed that Joanna Weaver (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World) wrote the foreword, so, if you liked her book, you should check this out as well. Every chapter concludes with questions to reflect on and action steps to take and implement what you’ve learned going forward.

Takeaways

There were dozens of passages that I highlighted in this book, mostly by Goyer, but others included quotes by my personal heroes (Elisabeth Elliot, Watchman Nee, Amy Carmichael) and some Franciscan prayers. If I had to pick one or two areas that really hit home, one of them would have to be Tricia talking about her early attempts at writing (pg 43):

“I wanted to write sweet, Christian romances. The only problem was my plots lacked conflict. Without hardship and longing, my characters had little motivation and few internal struggles. […] How could I write deep and impactful things when I refused to unearth and face my own deep pain?”

There is no way that I knew going into this book that Tricia would put a name to the face of my own struggles with fiction writing, and there was no way that Tricia knew, writing this book, that somewhere in the Midwest, a reluctant reader would hear God speaking to her through Goyer’s own honesty. Tricia did eventually go on to write fiction, more proof that God can heal our brokenness, and He delights in giving us the desires of our hearts.

There’s a lot to chew on here and as for me, I’ll be ruminating on some of the other chapters for months to come. For a short read, there was so much more that I could go into that won’t fit into this blog post but I encourage you to remain open to God speaking to your heart. If you feel that He’s directing you to reading this book, please do, and I am excited for your future. What are your thoughts? Start a conversation below. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 5)

Welcome to Part 5 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

I’ve been trudging along, trying to make time to finish reading Volume 1 of this 2-volume set. It is worth mentioning at this point that the break in the two volumes is a by-product of the editors, not of L. M. Montgomery herself.

The entirety of the text runs from September 21st, 1889 – April 1th, 1897 and this is considered the first volume of the author’s handwritten journal. The second volume runs from April 2th, 1897  – February 7, 1910.

For the purposes of this blog series, it should be understood that the text referenced below (The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900) begins on September 21st, 1889 and ends on December 22nd, 1900.

As it’s been a few weeks since posting, I intend on trying to conclude this present volume in today’s post, so onward!

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-19001897-1900

1897 was a cruel year for Maud as she struggled being a schoolteacher and a string of bad news brings heartache, and a “case of the blues” as Maud would put it, during a dark period of her life.

This was also the period that Maud has her first real passionate love affair and she treds the slippery slope of impropriety more than once. Without destroying the year with spoilers, I can best describe 1898 in Maud’s own words:

Oh ’98, how much I have suffered in you! How much of good and evil you have taught me, stern, cruel, relentless teacher that you were! (430)

1899 and Maud is back in Cavendish, living with her Grandmother and reflecting upon small-town life encapsulated in sewing circles and pie auctions (the evil things!). There are several lovely photos of Cavendish reflecting on the small church where she grew up (Maud wasn’t especially religious as I understand it), and newspaper clippings.

Finally, in 1900, the turning of the century, and some of my favorite entries of Maud’s are on the total eclipse (June) and the pleasures of reading — a joy unhampered by the tragedies in Maud’s past as delivered in these past four years.

A brief listing of her publication credits during this period:

In January 1897, The Ladies World published “On Haying Time” (poem) and two short stories were published in March 1897 by the Philadelphia Times and by Arthur’s Home Magazine. The latter would go on to publisher further stories in April and July of that year. The Times published multiple stories in March, May, June, August and September. You can see how prolific Maud has become!

She recognized this in herself, beginning a separate scrapbook in April, just of the bits of writing and publication dates she was accumulating for herself. At this point, Maud considered her writing to be a bit of mad money for spending/saving, not a real solid source of income, but she would later make nearly 100.00 in one year, almost as much as she’d managed to save in a year while being a schoolteacher — not too shabby I dare say!

In the footnotes, the scrapbook is mentioned as being entitled “Stories and Poems late 1890s” and includes sixty-nine items!  Good grief! Let’s just call her prolific and put an end to it… but no, we’re been faithful to record her bibliography thus far, so we continue:

October 1897, she had a poem accepted by Munsey, and this was the last I could find for the year.

In 1898: publication credits by the Christian Herald, the Philadelphia Times, Golden Days, the Family Herald, the Sunday Republican, Illustrated Youth and Age, Pilgrim, Congregationalist, Springfield Sunday Republican, New England Farmer, Family Story Paper, Youth and Age, and The Churchman (pp. 410).

In 1900, Maud takes time to note a special publication entitled “A Pair of Slippers” in Good Housekeeping, worthy of note for the bit of verse was illustrated and highlighted on its own page, the first honor of this sort. Maud would’ve been familiar with this practice in other magazines (e.g. The Youth’s Companion) but how delightful it must have been to see one’s own work so singled out!

The century’s exeunt ends with Maud Montgomery’s determination to make her way in the world by her writing.

I am getting on pretty well in a way. That is to say, I’m beginning to make a livable income for myself by my pen. Oh, outwardly I’m getting on all right. It is inwardly that all of the tumult is. […] This grumble has done me good. I work off all my revolutionary tendencies in this journal. If it were not for this “went” [edit: her word for venting] I might fly into a thousand little pieces someday. (469)

And with that thought, Maud’s journal closes, 484 pages (including the index) covering a decade of her life from her origins “as good as an orphan” to her maturity, jaded by love and heartbreak, and steely-minded looking towards making a way for herself by her writing. Where the next decade would take her, you need only read Volume Two to find out.

If you’ve been following along with this adventure of mine, thank you for reading!  At this point in my life, I am not going to embark upon volume two as life is getting a little hectic in my corner of the world, but please DO check it out for yourselves and let me know what you think of it.

The Text:
The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 4)

Welcome to Part 4 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-19001895-1896

Montgomery begins the year cozily snug with Tennyson and doughnuts, and gets interrupted by a boy, Lou, which she laments isn’t quite as good as a fireside curled up with Tennyson and doughnuts! I adore Montgomery and hope that we would’ve been friends.

As Montgomery continues her schoolmarm years (during 1895 and 1896), her publication credits begin to pile up.

In March 1895, she receives notice that a poem, “On the Gulf Shore” has been accepted by the Toronto Ladies Journal and later, a story “A Baking of Gingersnaps”, published by the same in July 1895; in February 1896, a short story, “Our Charivari” was sold to the Philadelphia magazine, Golden Days; an article commissioned by the editor of the Halifax Herald, entitled “A Girl’s Place at Dalhousie College”;  and in March 1896, a poem called “Fisher Lassies” was published by The Youth’s Companion.

Golden Days went on to publish “Our Practical Joke” (July 1896) and “A Missing Pony” (September 1896). The Chicago Inter-Ocean published “In Spite of Myself” in July 1896. The American Agriculturist published “Home from Town” (November 1896) and “Riding to Church” (February 1897).

Maud had a tendency of submitting work under pseudonyms such as “Maud Eglinton”, “Maud Cavendish”, “M.L. Cavendish”, and once for a school contest, “Belinda Bluegrass”.

I have to wonder if Maud isn’t spinning a yarn with the reader of this journal. Apart from keeping track of her profuse writing, what I find remarkably frustrating about this point of Maud’s life, and perhaps a bit beyond belief, is how Maud casually goes around with so many boys who fancy her, and they all get their hearts broken.  How much of this was fact and how much, the author’s own fancy? I’m not quite sure whether Maud is a reliable narrator in her own story and it’s keeping me on my toes.

As Maud concludes her time in Bideford, she journeys to Halifax where she is to attend college for a year taking advanced studies at the Ladies’ College and tries to go to the opera as often as she can. She adores Faust and unluckily, catches the measles. The college term over, Montgomery is to teach school at a town called Belmont where she writes journal entries (repeatedly) about the odd neighbors she encounters and the poor living conditions of her room, including, with one snowfall, drifts of snow falling through the window sash and coating her pillow!

Reading between the lines, she’s got a wonderful sense of humour and a lively mind. I’m trying not to idolize her as I’m writing but I can tell I’m gushing (a little).

Montgomery’s purple prose is enchanting and endears me evermore to her style of descriptive writing and the word choices and colours in which she paints her canvas of words in this literary journal.

“I refreshed my wearied senses drinking in the chaste beauty of the landscape. It was very calm and still and the declining sun cast chill pure tones of pink and heliotrope over the snow. There seemed to be an abundance — not of color but of the spirit of color. There was really nothing but pure white but you had the impression of fairy-like blendings of rose and violet, blue and opal and heliotrope” (258)

Isn’t that heavenly?

At the close of 1896, Maud is still teaching in Belmont and the icy conditions make it one of the worst boarding experiences she’s encountered yet. Will summer be here soon and what adventures will the new year hold? We shall see!

The text:

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 3)

Welcome to Part 3 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-19001893-1894

Maud is eighteen at the start of 1893 and home for the summer in Cavendish where Nate is rumoured to be coming home for a visit. Speculation flies that he is here to see Maud, but shall anything come of it?

Maud continued to have stories published in her college’s paper, founded by Tal MacMillan (one of her schoolmates) and some of the other college boys,  and in The Ladies’ World (1886), a New York magazine.

Amongst her college years, Maud doesn’t grow out of her antics — leading on a nosy landlord to believe a young man is calling for her friend instead of for her, going out for walks/rides with multiple young men over the course of the year and caring not a serious whit for any, and even passing notes during an exam!

Amongst the ephemera are several photos of Lover’s Lane, Maud’s bedroom, the college where she attended, and photos of her male and female friends. I am desperately trying not to cheat by looking ahead to see whom Maud ends up marrying but it is so hard when there’s more than one boy who likes her very much and it comes as no surprise to her (or the reader) when there are words spoken. But whom will she eventually marry? The end of 1895 holds no answers and Maud, now 20, is teaching at a small school in Bideford, P.E.I.

My Thoughts

I am amused that Maud is fond of cats (as I am) and there are two or three that merit mentioning in her diaries, including Mephistopheles “a demoniacal-looking animal, black as a coal, with long sharp ears and goblin-like green eyes” (225) and Cariss, a female cat who on at least one occasion embarrasses Maud and one of her gentleman callers with some cat calls (literally!) to some of HER admirers!

The descriptive nature of Montgomery’s writing is something I am particularly fond of and sup from like a dry wine, savoring each sip. She has an artist’s eye and the way she views the world and describes it is just magical and breathtaking.

The sky is a faintly-flushed heliotrope, the rivers and creeks are calm as glass, and the little purple points, the fringing spruces and the far-off islands are mirrored perfectly in the pale azure and rose waters, over whose surface several sailboats are gliding as gracefully as gulls. A soft lemon-hued light falls over hill and creek and island, and it seems as if tired old Nature had fallen into a chance nap at eventide. (238)

Is that not marvelous? Small wonder that I didn’t grow up with a love for purple prose and poetry, but then, nature is so changing and lovely to write about.

If you’re reading along, or following along with these blog entries, what do you make of Maud’s antics? Will she find true love?  Will she become something of a spinster schoolmarm until she’s past her prime? With the close of 1894, we’ve crossed the halfway point of volume 1 (hurrah!). Much more to come.

The text:

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

In last week’s post, I promised that this one would detail the “culmination of a summer romance” and I shall endeavor not to disappoint!

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-19001891

In her budding sexuality, Maud is confused by Mr. Mustard’s evening calls in which he sits and talks of pre-destination and the desire to be a minister, and judging by the entries, bores her to tears. Maud’s innocent attempts to ward off “that detestable Mustard’s” (65) visits are not to be missed, some of the comic highlights of the year’s entries.

As much as Maud attempts to shake off the unwelcome suitor, she embraces the flirtatious adventures with William ‘Will’ Pritchard (Laura Pritchard’s brother) and though it is obvious that she likes him, he likes her a good deal better than she does him.

Although there are some mentions of Nate being away to college, he does not factor in Maud’s life at this point as a romantic interest, only as a happy memory. It is on a warm July evening that Mr. Mustard builds up to his inevitable question regarding Maud’s affections and I’ll leave it to you to guess what her journal might have to say on that subject!

Towards the latter half of August, the end of summer means that Maud will return home to PEI, leaving behind her father and stepmother (and new baby brother); her newly-formed chums, Laura and Will; and return to her old haunts in Cavendish, now seemingly emptier by the absence of her old schoolmates. Maud and Will’s goodbye, it should be noted, was poignant. If you’re reading along, see the entry dated ‘Wednesday, August 26th, 1891’.

AGG fans will appreciate that in Maud’s documenting of life on PEI, are the first mentions of The Lake of Shining Waters (probably Long Pond), and Lover’s Lane, “the walk from the schoolhouse towards the home of David and Margaret Macneill” (footnote, 103). Maud’s Uncle Cuthbert gets married this year to a Miss Mary McLeod, and this is of course the famous surname used for Matthew and Marilla in AGG (now we know!)

1892

Maud is such a character. She continues to get into so much mischief and yet, is rarely caught, like sneaking into an abandoned home, or the closed schoolhouse, and giving themselves a good fright in the Haunted Wood (133). There is so much of Anne in Maud’s childhood, although I suspect that Maud was more interested in boys all around than Anne, who held a grudge forever against Gilbert Blythe.  As far as I can tell, Gilbert is, thus far, a fanciful myth, there is no basis for a character out of her school chums that matches the charming, infuriating boy who calls Anne “Carrots”.

I love how Maud goes to the “Literary” meetings, a sort of society for folks who want to discuss literature and what not.  We get some idea of Maud’s taste in literature, such as preferring Irving, who “has the greater heart” to Emerson, who “has the greater intellect” (111). At one meeting in November, she does a recitation from The Lady of the Lake (1810) by Sir Walter Scott.  These attempts are not merely to pass the time as Maud struggles to continue educating herself while trying to convince her grandparents to allow her to go back to school and continue her study for a teacher’s certificate, this time at a college in Charlottetown. They finally relent and she is to return when classes resume.

My Thoughts

Maud is a spirited young woman, perhaps a bit too innocent (and this gets her in trouble), with a definite “type” of person she’s attracted to — men who like books, but not are not stuffy, these fellows like to ramble with her on walks and have a good time. Maud doesn’t have the suitors as some of her friends do (Laura Pritchard) but she is comely. Growing up under her grandparents’ care didn’t seem to prepare her for this coming of age. Although her father does dote upon her, Maud doesn’t confide in him as it seems to upset his pretty young wife.

Maud also has an interesting view towards the death of one of her classmates, Will Spear, which she describes as “the first bead on the string has slipped off and one by one, sooner or later, all the rest must follow” (68). I wonder whether this is a result of her Presbyterian faith or how she came to develop this picturesque and abstract view of death. Further reading perhaps?

Maud doesn’t comment much upon her writing endeavors but there are hints at this stage of her life that she is getting her work (articles, poems) out there and getting positive feedback. Her Grandpa Montgomery, during the summer, met Lieutenant-Governor Schultz, who:

“had read my article on Saskatchewan and admired it very much, and he told grandpa to ask me for my photo and anything I might have written since! Quite a compliment for little me, isn’t it?” (128)

Already she is a budding writer and although Maud doesn’t comment upon it, I can only hope that perhaps her maternal grandparents (depicted as stern) might begin to see her in a better light.  I wonder if her depiction of Matthew and Marilla were in some way a reflection upon her own childhood, but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to surmise as much.

We leave Maud for now, a spirited 18 and what new adventures shall we discover next week?

The text:

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (Part 1)

Welcome to Part 1 of  The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.

For an overview of the project, please click here.

Maud’s journal begins at the young age of 14 (a few months’ shy of 15) with the beginning of a new diary, one that she’s determined will be of substance and more than just a documentation of the weather of the day. She will go on to recount her adventures and include relevant photographs of the people and places she encounters.

1889

Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1884 (age 10)

Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1884 (age 10)

In 1889, Lucy “Maud” Montgomery lived in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, a small village of fishermen and farmers and their families, with her maternal grandparents, the Macneills. Maud’s own mother had died of tuberculosis when Maud was 21 months old, and her father lives in Saskatchewan with his new wife.

Having never been to Cavendish myself,  I try to visualize the town from Montgomery’s descriptive writing, which reminds me of life in Avonlea, from the woods and pastures, the seashore and the magnificent skies, from stormy to sunsets.

What struck me the most about this first year of her life is her school days. Her teacher, Miss Gibson, has a lot of ideas about how to engage children in recitations and school events, which undoubtedly worked its way into AGG. Maud had her own kindred spirit in the form of Amanda Macneill, and the two were so inseparable that Maud was called “Pollie” to Amanda’s “Mollie”. Then there’s the proverbial group of mean girls Maud cannot tolerate, including Clemmie Macneill.  There are a lot of Macneills in Cavendish!

And then there’s also Nathan ‘Nate/Snip’ Lockhart, the Baptist minister’s step-son who flirts like anything and hangs about Mollie and Pollie and you just have to wonder if he isn’t crushing on one of them just the tiniest bit and ahhh, the age of innocence is a wonder to behold.

1890

It’s now 1890, and Maud’s comic adventures with cows and with stoves remind me again of a certain irrepressible red-head. I suppose it is inevitable that I will look for AGG references throughout this book as I so want to believe that Montgomery drew from her own life while writing the books.

Maud, in her teenage years, is discovering how enjoyable it is to be walked home by a boy (and oh, how her classmates talk!) and the complex emotions of affections requited and unrequited. She seems to share some of Anne’s romantic sensibilities (and indeed, Valancy Stirling’s, for that matter) with her love of nature:

“Those dear old woods […] we lay and gazed through half-shut-lids at the blue sky, smiling through the traceries of the spruce boughs, or explored by the eye the intersecting glades and dreamed idly of long, delicious summer days to come, when we might wander at will through those ferny depths and gather all the joys of Nature’s bridal hours” (27).

There is a lot of lovely imagery throughout these first few years’ of scenery, especially during the journey Maud takes in the summer of 1890 to visit her father and new stepmother in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, a 3,000-mile journey that takes ten days. There, she will study for her teacher’s certificate. Maud recounts the social scene of Prince Albert in between her studies under the tutelage of Mr. John Mustard, and the addition in December of a new boy in class, William Pritchard, whom, Maud says, despite a “crooked mouth […] is splendid. I have lots of fun with him” (52).

Life is not all fun and play however, the weather in Prince Albert in winter requires Maud to walk to school bundled in a buffalo skin; and she struggles continually with her stepmother, whom she grows to despise and describes as “sulky, jealous, underhanded and mean” (43). Maud also has severe bouts with homesickness and wilts under periods of stress and a lack of steady female companionship.

December 7th is a highlight in Maud’s young life (now sixteen!) in which she has her first piece published in the Charlottetown Patriot, a poem about the legend of Cape Leforce.

My Thoughts

Lest I gloss over the bad, there is some decidedly racist attitudes existing at the time towards children with Aboriginal blood — French and Scot fur traders marrying “country wives” and the children resulting from such marriages, who are called “breeds” (half-breeds) or “Métis” (45); While the racist attitudes, not uncommon for the time, may offend some readers, it isn’t representative of Montgomery as a person or as a writer but it would hardly be a fair review leaving it unmentioned either.

Sixteen year old Maud views her stepmother (perhaps unfairly) as an unhappily married woman, discontent with her lot in life and jealous of Maud and her father’s shared affection. There are also hints that her stepmother’s happiness may stem from Mr. Montgomery’s lack of economical means. This is almost the stereotypical relationship of a young girl and her ‘evil stepmother’ and I wonder how much of this is factual and not just Maud’s limited perspective.

The emphasis on recitation and memory in Victorian era education is interesting, lending credit to Anne Shirley’s obsession with literature and poetry (and recitations) and in a small town like Cavendish, the productions the school puts on likely served as community entertainment beyond a mere demonstration of acquired knowledge over the course of the school year.

While I don’t recall ever reading the word ‘logging’ in Maud’s entries, the presence of forestry in Canada is prevalent during the 3,000 mile (there and back again) journey from PEI to Saskatchewan, which offers a stark contrast of mud, pigs, and tree stumps far as the eye can see, in the shadow of the mountains, as opposed to the lush, rolling hillsides, ocean views, and wildflower-studded woods of Cavendish.

Next week, I’ll be continuing the series, further discussing Maud’s time in Prince Albert, and the culmination of her summer romance.

 

The text:

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900 (Overview)

The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.

lucymaudmontgomery_1889-1900The Project

I have embarked upon a largish reading project, a two-volume collection of the complete journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery (who went by ‘Maud’), which runs at 928 pages (volume two is slightly shorter at 444pgs).

The journals, published by Oxford University Press, cover a period of her life from 1889-1911 (roughly twenty-two years), from the tender age of fourteen to about age thirty-six. I am guessing on the end date as I am not sure what month the final journal entry in the second volume is in and she may or may not have had a birthday at that point.  When the journal opens, she’s a few months’ shy of her fifteenth birthday.

As a reference point, Anne of Green Gables (AGG) was published in 1908, and while this is certainly Montgomery’s best-known work, besides AGG, she wrote 20 novels, 530 short stories, 500 poems and 30 essays (Wikipedia.org).

My Introduction To LMM

I am in my early thirties now but I grew up on Montgomery’s work. I still have my ratty paperback copy of Anne of Green Gables which I received in my childhood years (likely from a well-meaning aunt) and although we couldn’t afford the eight-volume set, I went on to read the complete series twice, substituting books on loan from the local library.

When I became acquainted with the Kevin Sullivan films, I was enamored all over again with ‘that Anne girl’ and I am unabashedly the proud owner of the entire Anne of Green Gables series (books and DVDs), some of the Tales of Avonlea set (books, VHS), and the Emily of New Moon (books and DVDs). I have a few random paperbacks she’s published that are non-Avonlea related, like The Blue Castle, which is in my top 10 all-time favorite novels, ever.

Then there’s the non-fiction. I recently acquired Beyond Green Gables: Kevin Sullivan’s Designscapes, when it was published a few years back. There was also Anne’s Anthology: Following the Footnote Trail, Poetry Popular in the Victorian Era, by Margie Grey. I won’t get started on my 19th century poetry collection that emerged from reading Montgomery’s work.

I consider this a small collection of her work compared to many but I mention it at all just to demonstrate how vast the body of work is that we’re talking about — barely touched really in popular media (like television shows and films) — and how one author’s work can lead to so many related materials from criticisms of her work to adaptations to plays and films and of course, the journals.

Why This Collection?

It’s worth mentioning that there were a series of journals released some years back which were organized differently from this two-volume set, but I’ve elected to try this particular collection as it is arranged with the original images that Montgomery included in her journal entries, along with footnotes accompanying the text, and it is (as previously mentioned) not a collection of journal entries, but the complete set.

When this massive tome of a journal crossed my desk at work, I cracked open the cover, the hint of a smile across my lips, and immediately became immersed in author’s writing style. I had to read from the beginning.

So, where do we start?  I think the way that I would like to begin is by posting a year at a time, perhaps with the first post covering 1889-1890, as there aren’t very many entries for 1889 when she’s first starting out the journals and all of them short(er), in my opinion.

I’m about midway through reading 1890 now, so probably in the next week or so, keep an eye out here for Part 1 in the series, where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the beginning of this journey together with Lucy Maud Montgomery.