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Next on Readathon: Emily of New Moon

Frontispiece by M.L. Kirk in the original edition of Emily of New Moon (1923); courtesy of the Internet Archive

Andrea McKenzie and I are pleased to announce that starting on Monday, June 14, we will begin our next discussion on the L.M. Montgomery Readathon. When we launched this discussion group on Facebook in March 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic, we hoped that we might reach a few dozen interested participants readers, but as our discussion of our first book, Rilla of Ingleside, began to take shape, we were stunned when the amount of interested readers who wanted to join the group kept growing. Once we finished Rilla of Ingleside last June, we decided to keep the conversation going, first with Jane of Lantern Hill (July–September 2020) and later with The Blue Castle (September 2020–February 2021) and Chronicles of Avonlea (March–May 2021).

With the group now consisting of almost eight hundred members, we have selected Emily of New Moon as our fifth Readathon book, and starting Monday, we will work our way through each chapter week by week until the end of August. Once again, recordings of each chapter by group participants will be available on YouTube, and each chapter will be accompanied by discussion questions as well as posts about literary allusions, textual variants between the first edition and a widely circulated recent edition, book covers from around the world, as well as background information about fashion, technology, education, the natural world, and Montgomery’s life.

Emily of New Moon was published in 1923, fifteen years after the appearance of Anne of Green Gables, and it appeared two years after Rilla of Ingleside, which Montgomery had vowed would be the last book about Anne. The book reflects Montgomery’s renewed creative energy as she wrote it, not only because this was her first non-Anne book-length work of fiction in a decade but also because she had been wanting to write about this character for quite some time. And as a book focusing on a child writer, Emily of New Moon is a somewhat more autobiographical work than the Anne series. As Montgomery wrote to her penpal Ephraim Weber in 1921, “People were never right in saying I was ‘Anne’ but, in some respects, they will be right if they write me down as Emily.”

Along with its two sequels, Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest, Emily of New Moon has been celebrated not only as a work of fiction of superior literary merit but also as a work of fiction that has inspired subsequent generations of writers. Alice Munro, Jane Urquhart, and P.K. Page wrote afterwords to New Canadian Library editions of the three books that appeared in 1989, and the three books are featured prominently in Arlene Perly Rae’s book Everybody’s Favourites: Canadians Talk about Books That Changed Their Lives (1997). Moreover, a television series based on Emily of New Moon and its sequels aired starting in the late 1990s and ran for four seasons, all of which can now be viewed on YouTube.

All readers who are interested in learning more about this fascinating book are welcome to join the conversation on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

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