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Montgomery Review 7: Anne of Green Gables

Cover art from Anne of Green Gables, published by L.C. Page and Company in 1908.

Today’s L.M. Montgomery reviews: excerpts from two early reviews of Montgomery’s first novel, the one that established both her popularity and her critical reputation—Anne of Green Gables!

Anne of Green Gables is worth a thousand of the problem stories with which the bookshelves are crowded to-day, and we venture the opinion that this simple story of rural life in Canada will be read and reread when many of the more pretentious stories are all forgotten. There is not a dull page in the whole volume, and the comedy and tragedy are so deftly woven together that it is at times difficult to divide them. The story is told by an author who knows the Island of Prince Edward thoroughly, and who has carefully observed the human tide which flows through that Island, as it does over all places where human beings live. With the pen of an artiste she has painted that tide so that its deep tragedies are just lightly revealed, for she evidently prefers to show us the placid flow, with its steadiness, its sweetness, and witchery, until the reader stands still to watch the play of sunshine and shadow as it is deftly pictured by the hand of the author of Anne of Green Gables. —The Globe (Toronto, ON)

“We have much pleasure in drawing attention to this novel, not only because it is, in our opinion, the most fascinating book of the season, but because its author, Miss Montgomery, is a resident of Prince Edward Island, where the scene of the story is laid, and is evidently a keen student of both nature and human nature. The fact that the volume was published quite recently, and is now in its second large edition, is a sufficient guarantee of its unusual merit; but it is almost impossible for readers to guess even vaguely the treat that awaits them in its perusal.” —George Murray, The Montreal Daily Star

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  1. Marion Abbott

    Benjamin! I am just loving these ‘daily doses’ of Maud reflection!

    Isn’t it amazing that they ‘foresee’ a little of Anne’s success?

    My favourite line is ‘keen student of both nature and human nature’. I love picturing her in that back pew in Leaskdale, watching, watching, watching, learning, learning, learning.

    • Benjamin Lefebvre

      I’ve found it quite astounding, Marion, that reviewers immediately saw what we now see in Montgomery’s work: her sense of humour, her sense of place, and the relatability of her characters were celebrated in these reviews from the start. I’m hoping that my book will give Montgomery’s readers of today a sense of continuity with her very first reviewers a century ago.

      • Marion Abbott

        It IS astounding – I’m truly excited to read your book.

        Speaking with the people that come to see Spirit of Maud productions and reading these reviews sets me in a never-ending spiral of thought about the incredible, long-lasting impact of Maud and her writing.

  2. Benjamin Lefebvre

    One thing that’s unique about L.M. Montgomery—one of several, in fact—is the vast community of people who are attached to her. This includes people who are connected to the places where she lived, of course, but there’s a vast, worldwide community of people who continue to read—and reread—her books. There’s always something new to discover about her—her life, her work, her legacy. And that’s what makes it all worthwhile!

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