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Next on Readathon: Chronicles of Avonlea!

This week the L.M. Montgomery Readathon—an interactive group that Andrea McKenzie and I curate on Facebook—began its discussion of our fourth Montgomery book, Chronicles of Avonlea, a volume of linked short stories. We have just surpassed 700 participants, people from all over the world who are rediscovering L.M. Montgomery’s works and seeking community during this time of global uncertainty. If you haven’t yet joined the conversation, please do!

Published in summer 1912, Chronicles of Avonlea is L.M. Montgomery’s fifth book, preceded by Anne of Green Gables (1908), Anne of Avonlea (1909), Kilmeny of the Orchard (1910), and The Story Girl (1911). All four of these books were bestsellers in Canada and the U.S., although Anne of Green Gables continued to be the strongest seller. Somewhat understandingly from his point of view, Montgomery’s publisher, L.C. Page, was keen to publish more Montgomery books, particularly ones that were linked to Anne and might approximate or even surpass the sales success of Montgomery’s first book.

Because Montgomery couldn’t write books fast enough to please her publisher and because she was reluctant to write a third Anne book because she wanted to resist the inevitable romantic conclusion, Page—who had already suggested that she postpone The Story Girl and expand a nine-chapter serial entitled “Una of the Garden” as the basis for Kilmeny of the Orchard—asked her to compile a volume of linked short stories set in the same geographical environment as Anne of Green Gables and to feature Anne whenever possible, thinking that such a volume would be seen as the next best thing to a new novel about Anne. By this point Montgomery had published hundreds of short stories in North American periodicals, so she looked through her scrapbooks to see which stories could be revised for this project and ended up sending close to thirty revised stories for Page for consideration.

The twelve stories that made the final cut were first published in a range of North American periodicals between 1904 and 1912 (only “Old Lady Lloyd” has not yet been found in its original incarnation). Here they are, in chronological order:

“Little Joscelyn.” The Christian Endeavor World (Boston), 1 September 1904, 988–89.

“The Hurrying of Ludovic.” The Canadian Magazine (Toronto), May 1905, 67–71.

“Aunt Olivia’s Beau.” The Designer (New York), June 1905, 196–200.

“Ol’ Man Reeves’ Girl.” The Farm and Fireside (Springfield, OH), 15 June 1905, 14–15. (Revised as “Old Man Shaw’s Girl.”)

“A Case of Atavism.” The Reader Magazine (Indianapolis), November 1905, 658–66. (Revised as “The Winning of Lucinda.”)

“Pa Rudge’s Purchase.” The Christian Endeavor World (Boston), 22 February 1906, 421–22. (Revised as “Pa Sloane’s Purchase.”)

“The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham’s.” Everybody’s Magazine (New York), April 1907, 495–503.

“The End of a Quarrel.” American Agriculturist (New York), 20 July 1907, 56, 58–59.

“The Courting of Prissy Strong.” The Housewife (New York), July 1909, 12–13.

“Miracle at Mayfield.” The Christian Endeavor World (Boston), 28 October 1909, 69–70. (Revised as “The Miracle at Carmody.”)

“Each in His Own Tongue.” The Delineator (New York), October 1910, 247, 324–28.

Still, although there’s no record of the process of selecting and arranging the stories in this volume (most of the remaining stories would appear in Further Chronicles of Avonlea in 1920, but that’s a story for another day), there are some clues in the first published edition that indicate that Page and/or Montgomery considered a few arrangements before they finalized the contents of the book.

Title page of 1912 edition of Chronicles of Avonlea
Title page of 1912 edition of Chronicles of Avonlea, published by L.C. Page and Company. Courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library.

First, although the title on the cover appears simply as Chronicles of Avonlea, the title page adds an explanatory subtitle that tries to solidify the connection between this book and the character for whom Montgomery was best known:

In which Anne Shirley of Green Gables and Avonlea plays some part, and which have to do with other personalities and events, including The Hurrying of Ludovic, Old Lady Lloyd, The Training of Felix, Little Joscelyn, The Winning of Lucinda, Old Man Shaw’s Girl, Aunt Olivia’s Beau, The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham’s, Pa Sloane’s Purchase, The Courting of Prissy Strong, The Miracle at Carmody, and finally The End of a Quarrel.

The order of the stories here is the same as what appears in the book, and the only difference is that “Each in His Own Tongue” is renamed “The Training of Felix”—perhaps this was Page’s suggestion, given that the story had originally been published as “Each in His Own Tongue.” But an ad for the book at the end of this edition reads quite differently, with many of the titles referring to stories that ultimately appeared in Further Chronicles:

In which Anne Shirley of Green Gables and Avonlea plays some part, and which have to do with other personalities and events, including The Purchase of Sloane, The Baby Which Came to Jane, The Mystery of Her Father’s Daughter and of Tannis of the Flats, The Promise of Lucy Ellen, The Beau and Aunt Olivia, The Deferment of Hester, and finally of The Hurrying of Ludovic.

Back matter ad for Chronicles of Avonlea
Back matter ad for Chronicles of Avonlea, appearing in the 1912 edition published by L.C. Page and Company. Courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Although we don’t know how involved Montgomery was in making this selection and arrangement, the final, published version was certainly a hit with reviewers and a strong seller with the general public. Although some reviewers still yearned for another novel with Anne as the protagonist, most of the reviews had high praise for Montgomery’s skill as a short story writer. Here are some representative samples from reviews of the time, all of which are included or excerpted in Volume 3 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader.

“In this volume the author establishes her right to be considered one of the best short story writers in our country.”
Oakland Tribune

“All the insight and charm of the Anne books, with the added grace of a more finished craftsmanship, render this an exceptional collection; and a few of the chapters will take very high rank in the short-story domain.”
Christian Science Monitor

“To say that one sketch was better than another would be to insinuate that the latter was not just as good as it possibly could be. Which would be insinuating something utterly untrue.”
Mail and Empire (Toronto)

“Avonlea might be any one of those home towns to which wandering sons and daughters hurry back for their summer holiday; a village where every little white house has its grass plot, flower beds and vegetable garden; where the air is sweet with rose odors in June and apples in September; an out-of-the way spot where quaint characters develop idiosyncrasies.”
The Publishers’ Weekly

“The charm of the author’s style was never more in evidence. The stories ‘tell themselves’ with a readiness and naturalness which is the perfection of literary skill. . . . These ‘Chronicles of Avonlea’ demonstrate anew the truth that simple, quiet lives may be full of romance and of tragedy, even if the latter be bloodless.”
Boston Times

“The author shows a wonderful knowledge of humanity, great insight and warm-heartedness in the manner in which some of the scenes are treated, and the sympathetic way the gentle peculiarities of the characters are brought out.”
Boston Globe

“Instinctively one feels that the men and women, the boys and girls, the very cats and dogs of her stories are human and real; and they remain not creatures of the imagination but actual friends whose pleasures we have shared, whose griefs we have borne, and whose good fortunes we rejoice over. The authoress, too, is not without a saving sense of humor that lends the quaint charm to her stories that mark their individuality.”
Saint John Globe

“The author has won a fine reputation as a depictor of child life, but it is a mistake to consider that she is limited to that life. Indeed her finest work is to be found wherein she gives us the relation of the child and the adult.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

“These chronicles are of the best work that Miss Montgomery has done. The characters are real, living people, full of human weaknesses and homely virtues.”
The Canadian Magazine

Chronicles of Avonlea was part of the basis for the ever-popular television series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996), and it also showcases Montgomery’s strengths as a short-story writer. As such, it’s a collection that’s certainly worth revisiting. Please join the conversation on the L.M. Montgomery Readathon!

L.M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, and Self-Repetition

By the strangest of coincidences, a few evenings ago I took a break from writing some contextual material for an item in my next volume of Montgomery’s periodical work, specifically a headnote that mentions that four extracts from Anne’s House of Dreams had appeared in Donald Graham French’s anthology Standard Canadian Reciter: A Book of the Best Readings and Recitations from Canadian Literature, published in 1921 (something I had already mentioned in my overview of Montgomery’s career in my introduction to Volume 1 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader). Donald G. French (1873–1945) was co-author, with J.D. Logan (1869–1929), of Highways of Canadian Literature (1924), the first of six book-length surveys of Canadian literature published in the 1920s. In that volume, which includes a biographical sketch of Montgomery and a summary of her books published up to that point, Logan and French place Anne of Green Gables in a list of Canadian novels “of the Community type,” alongside Marian Keith’s Duncan Polite and Nellie L. McClung’s Sowing Seeds in Danny.

While searching for something else Montgomery-related on the open-access website Early Canadiana Online, I came across for the first time a much earlier article by French – entitled “Canada’s Jane Austen” and appearing in the December 1914 issue of The School, a Toronto publication – from which the bulk of Logan and French’s remarks about Montgomery in Highways would be lifted. The full text of this earlier article is as follows:

No history of English literature is considered complete unless it gives due place to the work done by Jane Austen in her portrayal of rural English domestic life; and no history of Canadian literature, when such comes to be written, should fail to recognize that L.M. Montgomery has done for Canada what Jane Austen did for England.

L.M. Montgomery (now Mrs. (Rev.) Evan [sic] Macdonald) was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, and spent her childhood in Cavendish – a seashore farming settlement which figures as “Avonlea” in her stories. Like many another young Canadian she has to the credit of her experiences a few years as teacher in the schools of her province. That her life so far has been spent chiefly within the limits of the little island province and the bounds of an Ontario country parish does not narrow her outlook although it necessarily confines her to themes bounded by rural experiences, for her forte is the portrayal of what she has seen and knows. She has the imaginative and creative gifts, but she uses these in enabling us to see the beauty, the humour, and the pathos that lies about our daily paths.

Anne of Green Gables,” which was Miss Montgomery’s first novel, has an interesting literary history. She tells us that upon being asked for a short serial story for a Sunday school weekly, she cast about for a plot idea. A faded note book entry suggested: “Elderly couple apply to orphan asylum for a boy; a girl is sent to them.” The writing of a serial was started, but time did not allow the author to complete it for the purpose intended. As she brooded over the theme it began to expand and the result was a book which may already be confidently labelled a “Canadian Classic.”

In Anne we have an entirely new character in fiction, a high-spirited, sensitive girl, with a wonderfully vivid imagination; wise beyond her years, outspoken and daring; not always good but always lovable. The basis of the story is already explained; its working out is somewhat different from the original suggestion. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, an elderly bachelor and his sister, living alone on the farm of Green Gables, send a message to an orphan asylum asking that a boy be sent them. Through some mistake a girl comes – the girl Anne. At first Marilla wants to send her back, but sympathy with the child’s longing for a real home, and an interest in her very quaintness, ends in establishing her as a member of the Green Gables family – and then the story has only begun. It is Anne who dominates the whole book. There are other characters, quaint too, and well-drawn, but the introduction of Anne into the community – Anne, so unconventional, so imaginative, and so altogether different from the staid, prosaic, general attitude of the neighbourhood proves to be the introduction of a peculiar ferment, and the incidents which discover to us the process of fermentation are most delightfully odd and mirth-provoking.

In “Anne of Avonlea” we follow the career of our orphan heroine. When we said goodbye to her she was fitting herself to become a teacher and it is with two eventful years of school teaching that this book deals. The writer understands children thoroughly and makes her child characters of all types perfectly natural and life-like. The same creative faculty which gave us in Anne an entirely new shadow-child shows itself in the portrayal of the mischievous but lovable Davy Keith, his demure twin sister Dora, the imaginative Paul Irving, and the many individualities of the pupils of Avonlea School.

Plot interest is not a strong feature of this or of any of L.M. Montgomery’s books. There are, nevertheless, several threads of action which bind together the series of incidents. Her novels are novels of incident rather than of plot; they do not, however, lack in continuity and unity. Frequent passages of nature description reveal at once the author’s intimacy with nature and her poetic attitude of mind.

Here is a typical descriptive passage: “A September day on Prince Edward Island hills; a crisp wind blowing up over the sand dunes from the sea; a long, red road, winding through fields and woods, now looping itself about a corner of thick set spruce, now threading a plantation of young maples with great feathery sheets of ferns beneath them, now dipping down into a hollow where a brook flashed out of the woods and into them again, now basking in the open sunshine between ribbons of goldenrod and of myriads of crickets.”

Chronicles of Avonlea” is a volume of short stories, which contains some of the most finished work of this author. The perfect art that conceals all art is shown in many of these short stories. There is a strong vein of simple humour in this as in all Miss Montgomery’s work; there is also a very keen personal sympathy of the author towards her characters.

Two other books by this author, “The Story Girl” and “The Golden Road,” are written with even less attention to a central plot than either of the two “Anne” books. They are somewhat loosely connected series of incidents in which the same characters take part. But they have none the less a high value when viewed from our standpoint; we are to remember that our Canadian Jane Austen need not invent for us thrilling plots. Other writers can do that, but other writers cannot or at least do not hold before us the mirror of Canadian country life.

Kilmeny of the Orchard” is in a sense but an expanded short story. It is a prose idyll and does not, perhaps, bulk very large when compared with the other books. It is really one of the extended “chronicles” of Avonlea.

In characterizing L.M. Montgomery the Jane Austen of Canada, let it be understood that we are not regardless of the difference in the scope of the work of the two writers. Jane Austen’s canvas is immensely broader, yet L.M. Montgomery’s portrayal of her fellowmen and fellowwomen shows a much keener personal sympathy; her work has more heart to it.

This is not the first time Montgomery had been referred to as the Canadian counterpart to Jane Austen; the earliest instance of this that I’ve found (so far) is a Toronto World review of Chronicles of Avonlea (included in Volume 3 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader) that suggests that “we might perhaps call L.M. Montgomery the Jane Austen of Canadian literature.” And it is also not the first time French would recycle some of his own work. Take a look at an article (signed “D.F.”) entitled “Rilla, Daughter of Anne” that French published in the Toronto Globe in 1921, shortly after the publication of Rilla of Ingleside:

The creation of the character “Anne” was a literary achievement which won enthusiastic commendation from writers of the highest rank – Bliss Carman and Mark Twain. Since then L.M. Montgomery has definitely fixed her place as the Jane Austen of Canadian literature and she has gone on employing her wonderful imaginative and creative gifts in portraying the beauty, the humor and the pathos that lies about our daily paths.

Possessed of a keen personal sympathy, a close intimacy with nature, a poetic attitude of mind, she captivates an ever widening circle of readers with the lightness, spontaneity, quaintness and humor of her stories.

“Rilla of Ingleside,” her latest book, follows up the career of the daughter of “Anne” of “Anne of Green Gables.” Rilla is impetuous, fun-loving, like Anne Shirley, and yet different. Anne herself and the doctor have important parts; Susan, Miss Cornelia and many other old friends reappear.

Canada’s tiny sea-girt Province, Prince Edward Island, was her birthplace. Her childhood was spent at Cavendish – a seashore farming settlement, which forms the background of many of her stories. She attended the country school and Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, afterwards teaching for three years.

“As far back as my memory runs I was writing stories for my own amusement,” she says. In 1909 [sic], with the publication of her first book, she found the true field for her talents, although she is equally successful as a writer of verse and short stories.

In 1911 she married Rev. Ewan Macdonald, a Presbyterian minister, and came to Ontario to live, her husband’s charge being not far from the city of Toronto.

Although the bulk of this article is original, notice the echo between the 1914 piece (“She has the imaginative and creative gifts, but she uses these in enabling us to see the beauty, the humour, and the pathos that lies about our daily paths”) and the 1921 piece (“she has gone on employing her wonderful imaginative and creative gifts in portraying the beauty, the humor and the pathos that lies about our daily paths”) in addition to the connection in both pieces between Montgomery and Austen.

With only minor changes, the text of the 1914 article would be reused for Logan and French’s Highways ten years later – but without the connection between Montgomery and Austen. Instead, they add a paragraph to discuss the novels that Montgomery had published in the intervening time:

The story of Anne Shirley continues through several volumes – Anne of the Island pictures her college days; Anne’s House of Dreams sees her established as mistress of her own home; while Rilla of Ingleside carries over the history into the second generation, Rilla being the daughter of Anne. There is no new development of method or treatment in these. In Emily of New Moon (1923) Miss Montgomery created a new child character, with a new environment, new conditions, and a new group of minor personages, yet in effect it is of the same type and in the same literary field as her previous novels. The chief difference to be observed is that she employs a more analytic psychological method in depicting her heroine – a method that tends to produce an adult’s story of youth. In a way it marks an advance in literary technique but is not as yet entirely divorced from that minute objective observation which makes equal appeal to the young in years and the young in heart.

Given the amount of repetition between these 1914, 1921, and 1924 pieces on Montgomery by French, how to account for the mysterious disappearance of Austen? Could it be that French’s co-author, J.D. Logan, didn’t share French’s enthusiasm for the literary merit of Montgomery’s work? That seems unlikely, given that, according to Montgomery’s journal entry dated 30 April 1923, Logan had approached her at a recent social function and exclaimed, “Hail, Queen of Canadian Novelists.” Might this be due to a decreased enthusiasm for women’s writing generally? Maybe, yet in Highways Logan and French claim that 1908 marked “the real beginning of the Second Renaissance in Canadian fiction” due to the publication of Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, McClung’s Sowing Seeds in Danny, and Keith’s Duncan Polite (even though Keith’s book had actually appeared in 1905). Might Logan and French have preferred to keep the focus on Canadian authors? Possibly, and yet their discussion of Keith’s novels a few paragraphs later links them to the Thrums books of Scottish author J.M. Barrie, best known as the author of Peter Pan.

So while I can’t guess what’s behind French’s decision (or possibly Logan and French’s decision) to drop the connection between Montgomery and Austen, it’s fortuitous that I came across this instance of repetition when I did. The next phase of my research on Montgomery’s periodical work focuses on periodical short stories in which Montgomery tested out characters, situations, and settings that she would rework – sometimes decades later – in her book-length fiction. Individually, these stories have been referred to as “practice exercises” by Elizabeth Waterston, as “prequels” by Irene Gammel, as “brief periodical warm-ups” by Wendy Roy, as an “early working-out in narrative” by Cecily Devereux, and as “recycled” and “replanted” by Claire E. Campbell. My earlier volumes in The L.M. Montgomery Library highlighted several instances of self-repetition in her non-fiction and her poetry – in A Name for Herself, for instance, I noted that parts of her essay “A Half-Hour in an Old Cemetery” and of her newspaper column “Around the Table” had been woven into Anne of the Island, whereas in my afterword to A World of Songs I noted that the fourteen extracts from the poems Emily shares with Mr. Carpenter in the last chapter of Emily of New Moon had been taken from Montgomery’s own poems. But when it comes to short fiction, the self-repetition becomes more strategic, more nuanced, and more complex. And so, discovering Donald French’s 1914 essay when I did was especially fortuitous, because it reminded me that Montgomery was hardly the only author who repurposed and revised their own work for new audiences, and there are multiple possible reasons for doing so.

Bibliography

Campbell, Claire E. “‘A Window Looking Seaward’: Finding Environmental History in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery.” In The Greater Gulf: Essays on the Environmental History of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, edited by Claire E. Campbell, Edward MacDonald, and Brian Payne, 283–318. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.

Chronicles of Avonlea.” In The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre, 115–38. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.

Devereux, Cecily. Headnote to “Our Uncle Wheeler,” by L.M. Montgomery. In Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Cecily Devereux, 335. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Editions, 2004.

D.F. [Donald G. French]. “Rilla, Daughter of Anne.” Globe (Toronto), 8 October 1921, 19.

French, Donald G. “Canada’s Jane Austen.” The School (Toronto), December 1914, 268–70. Online at https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.8_06954_28/.

Gammel, Irene. Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2008.

Lefebvre, Benjamin. Afterword to Montgomery, A World of Songs, 105–20.

—. Introduction to The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre, 3–28. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.

Logan, J.D., and Donald G. French. Highways of Canadian Literature. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1924. Online at https://archive.org/details/highwaysofcanadi0000unse/.

Montgomery, L.M. A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917. Edited by Benjamin Lefebvre. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018. The L.M. Montgomery Library.

—. The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Volume 3: 1921–1929. Edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1992.

—. A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921. Edited by Benjamin Lefebvre. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019. The L.M. Montgomery Library.

Roy, Wendy. The Next Instalment: Serials, Sequels, and Adaptations of Nellie L. McClung, L.M. Montgomery, and Mazo de la Roche. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2019.

Waterston, Elizabeth. Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Cover Reveal: The L.M. Montgomery Reader in Paperback!

Cover art for The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print Cover art for The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage Cover of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review

I’m very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication, in paperback, of all three volumes of my award-winning critical anthology, The L.M. Montgomery Reader (Volume 1: A Life in Print; Volume 2: A Critical Heritage; Volume 3: A Legacy in Review) from University of Toronto Press. This project took up the bulk of my professional life over a five-year period, so I’m thrilled that all three volumes will be available in paperback soon.

Once again, the best way to order these books is from the University of Toronto Press website. Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 are also available in hardcover and ebook formats.

The cover art features the covers of the first Canadian editions of Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Chronicles of Avonlea published by the Ryerson Press (Toronto) in 1942 and 1943; these copies are part of my personal collection.

Chronicles of Avonlea Ad Praises Montgomery’s “Charming and Irresistible Style”

Ad for Chronicles of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery, The Boston Herald, 8 June 1912.
Ad for Chronicles of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery, The Boston Herald, 8 June 1912.

This ad for L.M. Montgomery’s collection of linked short stories, Chronicles of Avonlea, appeared in The Boston Herald in June 1912. It praises the “charming and irresistible style which characterizes this author’s work” and appears on the same page as the Herald‘s review of the book, which appears in full in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review.

Ad 9: Anne of the Island

This ad for Anne of the Island appeared in the Baltimore Sun in July 1915 as well as in several other dailies across the USA. Although starting with this book Montgomery’s literary output was listed as “The Four Avonlea Books” opposite the main title page (with Chronicles of Avonlea included between Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island), this ad omits Chronicles and refers to Anne of the Island as “completing the ‘ANNE’ trilogy.” This marketing strategy would continue with the publication of Further Chronicles of Avonlea in 1920 (at which point the series was renamed “The Five Avonlea Books”), even though by then Montgomery had published two more Anne books set in another PEI locale with a competing publisher (Anne’s House of Dreams and Rainbow Valley, with Rilla of Ingleside following in 1921).

Ad for Anne of the Island, The Baltimore Sun, 24 July 1915, 3.

Review 19: Chronicles of Avonlea

Cover art for Chronicles of Avonlea, published by L.C. Page and Company in 1912.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post about reviews of Chronicles of Avonlea, these reviews were, on the whole, overwhelmingly positive in their praise for this collection of linked short stories. As the Mail and Empire noted in Toronto, “To say that one sketch was better than another would be to insinuate that the latter was not just as good as it possibly could be. Which would be insinuating something utterly untrue.”

Although there were only a few negative comments about the book, they are worth considering: the Louisville Post of Kentucky noted that, “From the standpoint of the unexacting, these are quite pretty stories, with enough and not too much of humor and of pathos. For the other sort – the fastidious, the exacting, the folk who know – there is very little here.” And as the Boston Evening Transcript added, “It is to be hoped … that there will be another ‘Anne’ story. There are other interesting people in Avonlea, but there is only one Anne.”

What do you think of these remarks? Do they still hold true for readers of the twenty-first century?

Montgomery Ad 5: Chronicles of Avonlea

Today’s L.M. Montgomery ad shows the attempts of her first publisher, L.C. Page and Company, to advertise her books alongside those of her contemporaries published by the same firm. This ad, which gives pride of place to Chronicles of Avonlea, appeared in The Boston Herald in September 1912.

Ad for L.C. Page and Company, /The Boston Herald/, 14 September 1912, 8.

Montgomery Review 10: Chronicles of Avonlea

Cover art for Chronicles of Avonlea, published by L.C. Page and Company in 1912.

Although L.M. Montgomery proposed the volume of linked short stories Chronicles of Avonlea (1912) as an imperfect substitute for a second sequel to Anne of Green Gables (which she was still unwilling to write at this point), many reviews proclaimed that the book contained some of her best work. This book was also part of the basis for the popular television series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996).

“In this volume the author establishes her right to be considered one of the
best short story writers in our country.” —The Oakland Tribune (Oakland, CA)

“The author shows a wonderful knowledge of humanity, great insight and warm-heartedness in the manner in which some of the scenes are treated, and the sympathetic way the gentle peculiarities of the characters are brought out.” —The Boston Globe (Boston, MA)

“To say that the Chronicles of Avonlea is a better book than Miss Montgomery’s other books is in the nature of trying to gild refined gold. But as impossible as the feat may seem, this delightful Canadian woman is improving as her pen becomes more practiced.” —The Rochester Herald (Rochester, NY)

These reviews and hundred more like them will appear in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, to be published by University of Toronto Press in late December.