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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Blythes of Ingleside are Back

Fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery, rejoice! My twittersphere sent me to this guardian article about a new book in the "Anne " canon due to be published in the fall by Penguin Canada.

The Blythes Are Quoted was intended to be the ninth volume in Montgomery's series about her heroine Anne Shirley, she of the freckled face, green-grey eyes and the "two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair". Featuring 15 short stories about Anne as an adult and her family, it also includes a series of vignettes between the stories – poems "by" Anne and her son Walter, who dies during the first world war – and sketches of Anne and Gilbert Blythe discussing the poems.

The book is divided into two sections, set before and after the first world war, and according to Penguin sees Montgomery "experimenting with storytelling methods in ways she had never attempted before" as she moves between prose, dialogue and poetry.


The book looks set to reveal a darker side to the author, with its publisher promising themes of "adultery, illegitimacy, misogyny, revenge, murder, despair, bitterness, hatred, and death – usually not the first terms associated with LM Montgomery".
Rilla of Ingleside, until now the final book in the series, was always one of my favorites* despite its darkness. I have a distinct memory of sitting in the back of my parents' car on the way to Maine reading it for the second or third time (yes, I used to read in the car all the time, I was a freak) and bawling. It was one of the first really sad books I ever read, along with Little Women, and even though it's jingoistic it really is a wonderfully vivid description of what the "home front" of a foreign war is like, the agonizing waiting and wondering and the patriotic one-upsmanship that sweeps communities. It's hard to see Anne as a sad grownup having lost a child, but just as my other favorite YA author Madeleine L'Engle does when she writes about Meg Murray's kids, Montgomery unflinchingly shows us the march of time in both its happiness and pain.

I cannot wait for this book!

*I also love Anne of the Island cause of the romantic stuff.


  1. Also super excited, for similar reasons. Rilla was my favorite book in the series and I read it over and over. I identified with her practical, stubborn nature more than I did Anne's fancies, and could totally see myself adopting a war baby. Can't wait for this.

  2. "adultery, illegitimacy, misogyny, revenge, murder, despair, bitterness, hatred, and death – usually not the first terms associated with LM Montgomery."

    Ha! If people read LMM's journals as well as her novels, press releases wouldn't say things like this. Granted, he journals are somewhat lacking in the murder front, but almost everything else is there. And adultery? That reminds me of Anne's intense anxiety over Gilbert's former "friend"/sorta-girlfriend being back in town (I think in Rainbow Valley? Can't remember which book).

  3. Thanks for reminding me about that. I was going to mention that people haven't read much of her work if they think it's free of heavy themes. She certainly addresses death unflichingly, even in the first book and the first Emily book too.
    I believe the book in question is Anne of Ingleside and the woman is Christine Stuart? Or Christine someone. Although it could be Rainbow Valley isn't the climax of that one reverand meredith finding a new wife?

  4. Yes! I think it was Anne of Ingleside, and most definitely Christine Stuart. (aside: Anne of the Island is one of my favourites too, and if you ever visit Halifax I'll tell you what to see to have a Kingsport experience)

    I think people are often inclined to dimiss LMM's work as sentimental because it emphasizes the joy of life so much, without realizing that she emphasized life because death was just so darn common in her novels. People don't realize/remember that it wasn't just Matthew Cuthbert who died. Remember in Anne's House of Dreams when she and Gilbert lose their little baby girl? Ruby Gillis? Even Rachel Lynde's husband dies. Cissy Gay in Blue Castle, Emily's dad, Pat Gardiner's friend Bets and Judy Plum. LMM's books are a veritable bloodbath! Not to mention all the orphans and neglected kids all over the place (Jingle, even Jane of Lantern Hill, at least while in Toronto, and especially her friend from next door, Sara Stanley abandoned by her Dad, etc.), and all the grudge-fires kept burning, not just in A Tangled Web...