But I’m pleased to let you know that my first author’s copy of Volume 3 arrived last week, with the remaining author’s copies getting to me Thursday afternoon. As I mentioned on my own blog last week, the fact that this multi-year project has finally come to an end is bittersweet, and it’s been nice to clear my desk, both literally and figuratively, as I start to ponder what it is I’d like to tackle next. I do hope that the materials included in all three volumes will prove useful and interesting to Montgomery’s diverse readership, and of course I’m always happy to hear from readers in terms of questions, responses, and alerts to items I missed.
For those of you who are in the Toronto area: on the evening of Tuesday, 27 January, I will be joining Laura M. Robinson and Melanie J. Fishbane for an event called “The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War” at the North York Central Library branch of the Toronto Public Library. I’ll be talking briefly about how Montgomery’s shifting vision of the war appeared in periodicals of the period, not only in terms of some of Montgomery’s essays and letters published prior to the writing of Rilla of Ingleside but also the ways in which all her war books—not only Rilla but also Rainbow Valley, Anne’s House of Dreams, and The Watchman and Other Poems—were reviewed in North American newspapers and magazines. It promises to be a terrific evening, so please join us if you can.
In honour of the anniversary today of L.M. Montgomery’s birth 140 years ago, here are extracts from an early review of her novel Rainbow Valley that was published in the John O’Groats Journal in Scotland and whose response to her work still resonates with readers today.
There are few writers who get such a hold on their readers. The spontaneous humour and sunshiny philosophy of her books banish care for the moment, and, lightly written as her books seem to be, there is marked ability in always maintaining the interest of the story at its highest pitch. After all, it is difficult to write a story about young people which will appeal to the mature tastes of grown-ups. How this is done is Miss Montgomery’s secret. Anne of Green Gables was, on its first appearance, regarded with suspicion as being merely a girl’s book, but before two months had passed it was the treasured possession of countless grandfathers and grandmothers. . . . [Rainbow Valley] is a book that can be read with pleasure by young and old alike. Its mingling of pathos and humour, and its healthy contempt for undue sentimentality, mark it out from its fellows as something quite out of the common.
“Beneath the elusiveness and the atmospheric charm of the Montgomery tales there is a wonderful firmness of character-drawing. She never repeats herself; every adult and every youngster whom she introduces is sketched before the reader’s mind in a few lines, by little character-revealing actions and utterances, and every one is distinct and separate and consistent. Every novelist knows how difficult it is to make children stand out as human individuals, but in these three hundred pages or so Miss Montgomery does this for ten or a dozen of the most lovable and scandalous youngsters who ever got together in one volume. They elbow into the background a bunch of adults who would be interesting enough if the youngsters were not so much more so; and they leave us with a determination to get a sequel out of their author by hook or by crook, so that we may find out what becomes of them after they grow up and the Great War has come to darken their young lives. —The Canadian Bookman (Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC)