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 (

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.

What I, a Non-Catholic, Discovered While Praying The #Rosary

Edited: A kind friend politely pointed out that I had some of the mysteries mixed up. This has been corrected. Apologies for any offense.

Ask yourself a question.

Q: What personal things do you keep around, not for their value or utility, but just because they bring you a measure of comfort?

Keep thinking about that, we’ll come back to it later.


An Open Invitation to Pray

During a recent crisis in the community, our local parish reached out to the neighborhood, inviting people to come to their outdoor garden area with a pretty statue of Mary (… shrine, I guess you’d call it) to pray the Rosary. I knew I’d see some people there I know, and it’d be nice to catch up too.

But there’s one thing that has always puzzled me about the Rosary and that is the difference of the mysteries and the process of prayer and meditation at the same time. I didn’t get that. Is it like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time? I mean, with a bit of effort, I can do that but it’s not exactly easy and it causes me anxiety to try. And there are so many prayers! How do you remember them all? Why do you pray so much?

I don’t get it.

With my work schedule, I knew that if I would be able to make the event, it’d be near its conclusion. But hey, I want to participate. I’m a person of faith.  I’ll just try doing it on my own, you know, on the public bus … at rush hour … when there’s a lot of people all around … who might criticize me or you know, look at me kind of funny (that’s the same thing, right?)

Oh no.  Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all…

I found myself making the sign of the Cross anyway.

Okay… here goes nothin’!

(45 minutes later. Yes, forty-five. Talk to me later.)

I got there right at the end. But I wasn’t the only one there with a smile on my face and I don’t think it was because we were happy to see each other. We shared a secret. Yes, we. I think on that bus trip I had discovered a secret to praying the Rosary. And yes, I’ll let you in on it too.


The Secret of the Rosary

Earlier, I asked you what personal thing you keep around because it brings you comfort. Have you thought about it?

Maybe it’s a book you’ve never read but on the inside cover there’s that personal inscription that a friend or family member wrote to you It could be your favorite stuffed animal that you packed in a storage box when you went to college, but didn’t have the heart to throw out. Maybe it’s a favorite piece of your grandmother’s jewelry — garish beyond belief, but she wore it every day and you keep it on your bureau and some days, when you miss her, you take it out and smile, and remember her.

For me, one of those things is my rosary.

I got my first rosary during a church event which I spent with my father and my paternal aunt. Although they’re both still around and present in my life, I treasure the memories I have of the time I spent, most especially with my father. In English, we have a term for what we commonly call these objects: mementos. Everybody has at least one. There’s nothing special or remarkable about that, is there?

Maybe there is!

Think about it. That memento of yours, where did you get it? Do you remember when? Who were you with at the time? What were you doing? I bet that whoever you were with and whenever it was, it was an emotional moment in your life. I bet if you’re completely honest, a small tingling of emotion still fills you when you hold/use/see that memento. It might even be something that you’d never share with someone else. It’d just be silly to them if you tried to explain. But for you, it’s more than that, isn’t it?

Image courtesy of m_bartosch,
Image courtesy of m_bartosch,

Putting it another way, if I’m right, then that object or memento, is a visual aid triggering a part of some secret knowledge, of your past, of something or someone that is important to you, and when you see/use/hold it, you remember. You think about that person, that time, that experience.

I’ve just explained the purpose of the Rosary. 🙂


The Rosary as a Visual Aid and Prayer Prompt

Earlier, I mentioned my struggle with trying to pray the Rosary. It’s just a series of repeating prayers. I didn’t get the idea of trying to meditate and pray and what it was for. Now I think I understand a little better.

When you pray the Rosary, you are connecting with Christ. You are using a visual aid (the Rosary) to inspire reflection on the life and nature of Christ.

  • On Mondays and Saturdays, Catholics reflect on the life of Mary, and the events leading up to Christ’s birth and His early childhood (the Joyful Mysteries).
  • On Thursdays, they remember some of his miracles in his early ministry, leading up to the Last Supper, (the Luminous Mysteries).
  • On Tuesdays and Fridays, it’s a reflection on the events of Good Friday, beginning with the Garden when Jesus is betrayed, leading up to His crucifixion (the Sorrowful Mysteries).
  • And finally, on Wednesdays and Sundays, it’s a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the events of the early Church, and a life of obedience to God, rewarded at the end of Mary’s life (the Glorious Mysteries).

But the Rosary acts like a visual aid in another way too.

It’s a prompt for our prayer lives. When I tried praying the Rosary, I found the Holy Spirit prompting my heart with words taken from the mysteries I was reflecting upon, and it gave me a direction to pray for specific things. What resulted was a far richer prayer experience than I usually have on my own. I think that the reason for this is that each of the mysteries stems from the Scriptures. When we base our prayer on the Word of God, amazing things can happen.


The Pleasing Aroma To God

“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:15, NLT)

I also discovered that in the process of praying the Rosary, when I announce the “decade” (the mystery I’ll be reflecting on), it helped me to stop at that point and meditate on that mystery at that point, as I prayed the “Our Father”. Pausing for a moment of reflection (or meditation) before going on to pray caused sort of a dual layer of prayers going on, on the surface, the Hail Mary’s, and below that, another prayer prompted by the mystery I was reflecting on.

It’s a bit of an awkward way to describe it but I can only compare it to it being like two layers of prayer, on top of each other, like a melody and a harmony of a song, being played at once.

As I’m writing this, I am debating, and you may debate as well, which is which, but here goes. If praying the Rosary were a song, then there are two parts, the melody (the familiar tune we know) and the harmony (the chords played in the background that flesh out the song). From my current perspective, I would call the melody the prayers in the Rosary itself, because it is familiar, and our own secret prayers to God, the harmony of the prayer experience.

I can understand though that there may be some Catholics out there who will say I’ve got it backwards, and it’s the Rosary that is the harmony of the prayer, blending in with our own secret prayers, making it a richer experience.  Regardless of which is which, I think the end result is the same: our meditation and prayers become an offering, like a pleasing aroma, to Christ.  And that, my friend, is something to be cherished.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think about the Rosary, and about prayer in general.  Do you think that praying and using references to scripture helps you?

The Heart of #Ferguson

Since the death of Mike Brown two weeks ago, I have been quiet on my website about the fact that I am a Ferguson, Missouri resident.  Some of you who have known me longer than this blog has existed will already have known that information, for newcomers, this may be a complete surprise to you. You might even wonder why I didn’t blog about it when I lived basically where the riots and looting were going down.

First, I wanted to put some distance between myself and the events that were going on, and second, I didn’t want to post something that might inadvertently be opportunistic in the aftermath of what was a horrible tragedy.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of family and friends contact me to make sure that my husband and I were okay, offering us a place to “get away for a while”, offering assistance if needed. To those people, thank you for your kindness.

In the years since my husband and I moved to Ferguson, we’ve had two tornadoes, and now, the events of this summer taking place around/on W. Florissant at the Ferguson/Dellwood border, that’s brought national and international attention to our small town.

After spending some time reassuring one friend that we are, in fact, not in the proverbial ‘eye of the storm’, she encouraged me to share my news on my blog, I think because people need to hear good news and straight talk (to paraphrase).  So here goes…

Continue reading “The Heart of #Ferguson”

Blurb Featured on Anna Loan-Wilsey’s Website

Last autumn I reviewed “Anything But Civil” by Anna Loan-Wilsey (review here) for the Historical Novel Society. This week, I discovered that a blurb from my review was featured as press for the book on the author’s website. How fantastic!

I thought you would enjoy a peek and Ms. Loan-Wilsey was gracious enough to allow me to reprint a portion of her website for my readers:

anything but civil_02-06-14_permission_from-author.2

Learn more about Anna Loan-Wilsey and her Hattie Davish mysteries at her website,

Debut Speaking Engagement

microphone by renjith krishnanHey guys,

I’m really excited about this opportunity I’ve been given by the St. Louis Writers Guild to talk about one of my passions, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  For those of you who have known me for a while, you know that I am passionate about writing and I’m absolutely thrilled about this opportunity.

If you’re in the area on Saturday, I hope you’ll stop by and say hello. Both topics should be very interesting and there’ll be something for fiction and non-fiction writers alike.

Keep reading to learn more and I hope you all have a great day!

my signature

Workshops for Writers: Jumpstart your Novel or Memoir

with Linda O’Connell, Donna Volkenannt, Jennifer Shew, and Lauren Miller

Saturday, November 2, 2013
10am to Noon
Kirkwood Community Center
111 S. Geyer Rd
Kirkwood, MO 63122
Free for Members, $5 for Non-Members

Whether the story you have to tell is a novel or a memoir, November is a great month to start writing it. Get inspired by life writers Linda O’Connell and Donna Volkenannt and novelists Jennifer Shew and Lauren Miller. They will show you how to jumpstart your book.

National Life Writing Month: Linda O’Connell & Donna Volkenannt
Learn about the many different kinds of “life writing”
Find how an essay can be expanded to a memoir
Get the skinny on how an expose` may or may not lead to publication
Discover how to unlock the power of stories to inspire, uplift, and heal

National Novel Writing Month: Jennifer Shew & Lauren Miller
Learn how to get started with the 50,000 words of NaNo
Get up to speed on writing socially
Hear one author’s experiences with the local NaNo group
Find out about tools such as Scrivener

Donna Volkenannt believes words have the power to inspire, uplift, and heal. Her personal essays, short stories, articles, and poems have won almost 100 awards, including honorable mention in the national Steinbeck short story competition and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and a Spur award. First place winner of the 2012 Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award, she lives in St. Peters, where she blogs about writing and the sweet mysteries of life.

Linda O’Connell is a multi-genre writer whose niche is writing personal essays. Her stories have been published in 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and more than one hundred national publications. She is developing an anthology for Publishing Syndicate and is the author of a book, Queen of the Last Frontier, the biography of Emily Keaster.

Jennifer Shew has always liked to write and read stories, mainly fantasy, because they let her imagination take over. That’s why she was so happy to hear about NaNoWriMo ten years ago–it was like a license to write whatever she wanted. She has been a Municipal Liaison (ML) for the growing St. Louis NaNoWriMo region for seven years. She helps people get started with the 50,000 words of NaNo and host write-ins for folks to write socially. She’s excited to write her 500,000th word this year!

Lauren Miller reviews books for the Historical Novel Society and writes for the St. Louis Writers Guild’s literary magazine, The Scribe. Her work has also appeared in publications such as The Poet’s Art and a MMORPG (that’s a massive multiplayer online role-playing game). After five years trying, the historical and spec fiction writer declared her first win last year by completing a 50,000-word novel during National Novel Writing Month.

Press release provided courtesy of St. Louis Writers Guild.