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.
This review and hundred more like it appears in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, available from University of Toronto Press by the end of December.