Menu Close

Year in Review: 2017

A wide range of new and reissued books appeared this year. Several of these—released last spring to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s death—promised to stretch our understanding of her life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways. But by the fall, the focus shifted for the most part to Montgomery’s most celebrated book, Anne of Green Gables. Still, the publication of these books, particularly at a time when two new sets of television adaptations of Anne of Green Gables are airing worldwide, demonstrates that interest in Montgomery’s work shows no signs of tapering off.

L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921 and L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1926–1929 (Rock’s Mills Press), both edited by Jen Rubio, follow on the heels of last year’s volume covering the years 1911 to 1917. Featuring an introduction by Elizabeth Epperly, this first volume marks some major changes in Montgomery’s life, including the end of the Great War, a lawsuit against her exploitative first publisher, and the devastating loss of a relative whom she referred to as “my more than sister,” whereas the second volume shows Montgomery grappling with more changes, particularly when she and her family leave Leaskdale for Norval, Ontario. (A volume covering the years 1922 to 1925 is expected next year).

L.M. Montgomery and War (McGill-Queen’s University Press) is a collection of essays edited and introduced by Andrea McKenzie (co-editor of a restored and annotated edition of Rilla of Ingleside) and Jane Ledwell (co-editor of the collection of essays Anne around the World: L.M. Montgomery and Her Classic). Emerging out of an international conference held at the University of Prince Edward Island in June 2014, the volume seeks to situate Montgomery as a major war writer. It features original scholarship by Elizabeth Epperly, Susan Fisher, Maureen O. Gallagher, Irene Gammel, Sarah Glassford, Caroline E. Jones, Andrea McKenzie, E. Holly Pike, Laura M. Robinson, and Jonathan F. Vance.

After Many Years: Twenty-One “Long-Lost” Stories (Nimbus Publishing), selected and introduced by Carolyn Strom Collins and the late Christy Woster, features stories that Montgomery published in North American periodicals between 1900 and 1939 and that were rediscovered by collectors only recently. My personal favourite of these stories is “Tomorrow Comes,” which anticipates both Little Elizabeth in Anne of Windy Poplars and Jane in Jane of Lantern Hill.

Maud, by Melanie J. Fishbane

Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery (Penguin Teen Canada) is the debut novel of Toronto author Melanie J. Fishbane. This work of historical fiction tells the story of fourteen-year-old Maud Montgomery, who dreams of becoming a writer like her beloved Louisa May Alcott but who must contend with the narrow expectations of the adults in her family: her maternal grandparents in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, as well as her father and her stepmother in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Fishbane, who contributed a chapter to L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942 (2015), has drawn judiciously from Montgomery’s published and unpublished writings as well as extensive fieldwork in both Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan to create her novel. She has presented several papers in Charlottetown and Leaskdale about Montgomery as a teen writer. For more about this author and this book, see Fishbane’s personal website.

Cover art for Anne of Green Gables (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2017)

The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables (Penguin Books), a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s best-selling novel with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by Montgomery. Although there are innumerable editions of this book currently on the market, most trade editions in North America reprint a version of the text that was modernized in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of additional small changes to the text. The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is one of the few that includes the full text of the original 1908 edition, with fourteen corrections that are listed in the section entitled “A Note on the Text.”

Also released this year were paperback editions of Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston’s The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, including a volume devoted to the years 1889 to 1900 and one to the years 1901 to 1911.

Besides these titles, several more books engage with the story of Anne of Green Gables in a range of ways:

Meet Me at Green Gables (Bouton d’or d’Acadie), by Michel Bourque, illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel, is a charming picture book that tells the story of Gracie Finley and Glenda Landry, who played Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical in Charlottetown in the 1960s. Also available in French as Rideau rouge et pignons verts.

Anne of Green Gables: A BabyLit Places Primer (Gibbs Smith), by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver, is a board book for toddlers that focuses on the PEI locations that are so prominent in Montgomery’s book, and it’s designed to “captivate your brainy baby’s imagination, and yours.”

Anne of Green Gables (Seven Seas Entertainment) is a new edition of the novel that features manga illustrations by Japanese manga author Maki Minami.

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook (Race Point Publishing), by Kate Macdonald, is a new edition of this recipe book by a granddaughter of L.M. Montgomery, first published in 1985, now with the subtitle “Charming Recipes from Anne and Her Friends in Avonlea.”

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel (Andrews McMeel Publishing), adapted by Mariah Marsden, illustrated by Brenna Thummler, is a “whimsically-illustrated” graphic novel that offers new and returning readers a chance to “explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea.”

Besides these books, I’ve become fascinated with a phenomenon that has involved not only Montgomery but also any other still-popular author whose work is in the public domain: cheap reprint editions, either in print or in ebook form. Sometimes it seems as though new cheap editions of Montgomery’s books become available on Amazon every day, many of them offering numerous titles for 99 cents, most of them with cover art that is completely random and, as such, entirely unsuitable, with this recent cover of an edition of Rilla of Ingleside as just one example:

“Wake up, Rilla—it’s war time!” A random and utterly unsuitable image for the cover of a recent cheap ebook reprint of Rilla of Ingleside.

In other cases, creators of these cheap ebooks take art from existing editions, which could mislead readers about what edition they are buying. A couple of months ago, one such edition of Rilla of Ingleside appeared with the cover art from the restored and annotated edition that Andrea McKenzie and I edited for Penguin Canada in 2010. Because most of the editions do not identify any creators or publishers and simply have the line “Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC,” it is impossible for consumers to know who is behind these editions. Thankfully, though, when we reported this edition to Amazon, it was soon taken down all its platforms.

But now a new twist has occurred, evident in the following screen caps taken yesterday:

While it is true that these books are in the public domain and that anyone anywhere can reprint them or make ebook versions of them, these editions are most definitely not Norton Critical Editions or part of the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics series (which is now called Penguin Modern Classics) or the Oxford World’s Classics series. These are all existing covers, although the cover for The Story Girl is actually from one of eight abridgements done for Zonderkids over a decade ago. Although one would have to buy these Kindle editions to assess the extent that they are “annotated,” my sense is that, if these editions were sufficiently annotated for publication by Norton, Penguin, or Oxford, they would not be retailing for $3.73. Not to mention that the editor of a critical or annotated edition is always identified, since it is that editor’s expertise in the subject matter that is of paramount importance.

And then, of course, is this recent ebook, which appears to be an L.M. Montgomery title no one has ever heard of: Bev’s Childhood. It is actually The Story Girl.

Besides all these books, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario organized and held The Spirit of Canada: Celebrating a Canadian Literary Patriot, L.M. Montgomery, a three-day event held at the Leaskdale Manse National Historic Site, Montgomery’s home from 1911 to 1926, on 20–22 October of this year.

Keynote speakers included Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (“Capturing Canada: L.M. Montgomery’s Career of Creating Place”) and Benjamin Lefebvre (“The Upward Climb to Heights Sublime: Private and Public Narratives in L.M. Montgomery’s ‘The Alpine Path’”). The program also features presentations by Ted Barris, Rita Bode, Lesley D. Clement, Melanie J. Fishbane, Andrea McKenzie, Jen Rubio, Kate Scarth, and Emily Woster.


Comments are closed.