This ad for L.M. Montgomery’s collection of linked short stories, Chronicles of Avonlea, appeared in The Boston Herald in June 1912. It praises the “charming and irresistible style which characterizes this author’s work” and appears on the same page as the Herald‘s review of the book, which appears in full in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review.
This ad for Anne of the Island appeared in the Baltimore Sun in July 1915 as well as in several other dailies across the USA. Although starting with this book Montgomery’s literary output was listed as “The Four Avonlea Books” opposite the main title page (with Chronicles of Avonlea included between Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island), this ad omits Chronicles and refers to Anne of the Island as “completing the ‘ANNE’ trilogy.” This marketing strategy would continue with the publication of Further Chronicles of Avonlea in 1920 (at which point the series was renamed “The Five Avonlea Books”), even though by then Montgomery had published two more Anne books set in another PEI locale with a competing publisher (Anne’s House of Dreams and Rainbow Valley, with Rilla of Ingleside following in 1921).
As I mentioned in my earlier blog post about reviews of Chronicles of Avonlea, these reviews were, on the whole, overwhelmingly positive in their praise for this collection of linked short stories. As the Mail and Empire noted in Toronto, “To say that one sketch was better than another would be to insinuate that the latter was not just as good as it possibly could be. Which would be insinuating something utterly untrue.”
Although there were only a few negative comments about the book, they are worth considering: the Louisville Post of Kentucky noted that, “From the standpoint of the unexacting, these are quite pretty stories, with enough and not too much of humor and of pathos. For the other sort – the fastidious, the exacting, the folk who know – there is very little here.” And as the Boston Evening Transcript added, “It is to be hoped … that there will be another ‘Anne’ story. There are other interesting people in Avonlea, but there is only one Anne.”
What do you think of these remarks? Do they still hold true for readers of the twenty-first century?
Today’s L.M. Montgomery ad shows the attempts of her first publisher, L.C. Page and Company, to advertise her books alongside those of her contemporaries published by the same firm. This ad, which gives pride of place to Chronicles of Avonlea, appeared in The Boston Herald in September 1912.
Although L.M. Montgomery proposed the volume of linked short stories Chronicles of Avonlea (1912) as an imperfect substitute for a second sequel to Anne of Green Gables (which she was still unwilling to write at this point), many reviews proclaimed that the book contained some of her best work. This book was also part of the basis for the popular television series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996).
“In this volume the author establishes her right to be considered one of the
best short story writers in our country.” —The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, CA)
“The author shows a wonderful knowledge of humanity, great insight and warm-heartedness in the manner in which some of the scenes are treated, and the sympathetic way the gentle peculiarities of the characters are brought out.” —The Boston Globe (Boston, MA)
“To say that the Chronicles of Avonlea is a better book than Miss Montgomery’s other books is in the nature of trying to gild refined gold. But as impossible as the feat may seem, this delightful Canadian woman is improving as her pen becomes more practiced.” —The Rochester Herald (Rochester, NY)
These reviews and hundred more like them will appear in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, to be published by University of Toronto Press in late December.