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Tag: Rainbow Valley

New Reviews, 1919–1922

Cover of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review (paperback edition)

One of my previous books, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, contains the full text of almost 400 reviews of the twenty-four books Montgomery published within her lifetime, excerpts from dozens more, and a narrative overview of reviews of an additional twenty-four books attributed to Montgomery and published between 1960 and 2013. Although I blogged quite a bit about reviews around the time I was putting this book together, once it was published in 2015 I was ready to move on to something else. Not surprisingly given that I’ve continued to comb through newspapers and magazines looking for Montgomery’s short stories, poems, and miscellaneous pieces since then, I do come across new book reviews periodically. Normally when that happens I just update my master list and file them away on my hard drive, but this week I decided to post some reviews I’ve come across recently because one of them echoes my recent blog post about Montgomery and Jane Austen.

Here are four reviews in total of three books that Montgomery published at the height of her career – or, strictly speaking, of two books that Montgomery published at the height of her career and of one book that her unscrupulous first publisher manipulated her into publishing around this time.

First, a review of Rainbow Valley that appeared in the 1 January 1920 issue of Farmers’ Magazine, published out of Toronto:

The light deftness of literary touch which is the gift of L.M. Montgomery is something that even a Jane Austen might almost envy, for she has the power of setting before us the events and people of everyday life in a typical Canadian community, and of showing us with a fine, sympathetic insight the humor, the beauty and the pathos of what might have passed by us as commonplace or unworthy of attention.

“Rainbow Valley” is peopled with children whose pranks upset the serenity of the “even tenor of the way,” but in whose boisterousness there is nothing of downright wickedness.

And as every community has its share of persons who are busily engaged in “minding other people’s business,” here we have those who are greatly interested in the widowed condition of the occupant of the manse and the seeming wildness of his unmothered children.

At the back of it all the author sees the guiding hand of Romance who weaves before our eyes a truly delightful pattern of life.

Second, a review of Rainbow Valley that appeared in the 27 November 1919 issue of The Christian Endeavor World, a religious periodical published out of Boston:

The scene of L.M. Montgomery’s latest novel, “Rainbow Valley,” is Prince Edward Island, which the author knows and loves so well. Anne Shirley, the Anne of “Anne of Green Gables” and other books, appears again in this volume, fresh and bright and delightful as ever. The centre of the story, however, is the manse to which has come a rather absent-minded minister, a widower with a family. The story deals with the adventures of the young folks, but the chief charm of the book is the humor that glows throughout. The author has succeeded in clothing the common interests of country life with the glory of romance, and has invested with interest the every-day talk and commonplace events of the community. “Rainbow Valley” makes delightful reading; the children are so human, so full of fun and harmless mischief, that they win our sympathy at once.

Third, a review of Further Chronicles of Avonlea that appeared in the 27 May 1920 issue of The Christian Endeavor World:

L.M. Montgomery has done for Prince Edward Island what “Ian Maclaren” did for Drumtochty. It is no small achievement to create so interesting and charming a figure as Anne of Green Gables and to people the region about Avonlea with real characters. Miss Montgomery has the gift of swift and accurate characterization, and not a little of the pleasure in reading her books comes from those flashes of insight that she puts into a few winged words. The present volume, “Further Chronicles of Avonlea,” is a book of short stories. Lovers of the island will be delighted with the fidelity of the pictures. Some of the tales touch deep feelings; others are in a lighter vein, like “Aunt Cynthia’s Persian Cat,” – a cat which causes a good deal of trouble by reverting to its primitive instincts, – or “The Materializing of Cecil,” a thoroughly enjoyable love story with its striking conclusion. These Chronicles are clean and sweet, and one feels better after reading them.

And fourth, a review of Rilla of Ingleside that appeared in the 18 May 1922 issue of The Christian Endeavor World:

In her latest novel, “Rilla of Ingleside,” Miss L.M. Montgomery has given us a faithful as well as an interesting picture of how the war came to a Canadian village, how it affected the people, and what changes it made. Rilla is the daughter of the doctor – a daughter, by the way, of Anne of Green Gables – and at first is rather self-centred. The war and the conditions it brings impose new tasks upon her and bring out latent powers. What is here told of the eager looking for war news must have been true of many places, and the tragedies, the boys that never came back, are but samples of war’s awful toll. There is a fine love-story in this tale, which is written with Miss Montgomery’s well-known charm and genial touch. There is in the book a good deal of laughter, sunshine darting through clouds.

What do you notice in these short, unsigned evaluations of these three Montgomery books? What elements are these books praised for? How do those elements dovetail with the reasons people continue to read (and reread) her books today? What do these comments suggest about what audiences these books target in terms of age or gender?

Cover Art for Four More Anne Reissues by Virago Modern Classics

Virago Press has just released the covers of four more Anne reissues that it will be publishing as part of its Virago Modern Classics imprint later this year: Anne of Windy Willows (published as Anne of Windy Poplars in North America), Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley. As I mentioned in January when I posted the covers of the previous Virago editions, the artwork for all these editions is by UK-based artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

Cover art for Anne of Windy Willows (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne's House of Dreams (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne of Ingleside (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Rainbow Valley (Virago Press, 2017)

These editions will be released in spring 2017 in the United Kingdom and in fall 2017 in North America.

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in ReviewI seem to have dropped the ball on my promise, made in November, to post either an extract of a review or an ad every single day on this website until I received my first copy of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review. Since mid-December, I’ve been so busy with the end-of-year rush, with illness, with the holidays, and with some behind-the-scenes updates on this website (including lists of journal articles, book chapters, paratexts, dissertations/theses, and reviews) that I haven’t posted anything in several weeks.

But I’m pleased to let you know that my first author’s copy of Volume 3 arrived last week, with the remaining author’s copies getting to me Thursday afternoon. As I mentioned on my own blog last week, the fact that this multi-year project has finally come to an end is bittersweet, and it’s been nice to clear my desk, both literally and figuratively, as I start to ponder what it is I’d like to tackle next. I do hope that the materials included in all three volumes will prove useful and interesting to Montgomery’s diverse readership, and of course I’m always happy to hear from readers in terms of questions, responses, and alerts to items I missed.

For those of you who are in the Toronto area: on the evening of Tuesday, 27 January, I will be joining Laura M. Robinson and Melanie J. Fishbane for an event called “The  Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War” at the North York Central Library branch of the Toronto Public Library. I’ll be talking briefly about how Montgomery’s shifting vision of the war appeared in periodicals of the period, not only in terms of some of Montgomery’s essays and letters published prior to the writing of Rilla of Ingleside but also the ways in which all her war books—not only Rilla but also Rainbow Valley, Anne’s House of Dreams, and The Watchman and Other Poems—were reviewed in North American newspapers and magazines. It promises to be a terrific evening, so please join us if you can.

Montgomery Review 14: Rainbow Valley

Cover art for Rainbow Valley, published by McClelland and Stewart (Canada) and Frederick A. Stokes Company (USA) in August 1919.

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.

Montgomery Review 3: Rainbow Valley

Cover art for Rainbow Valley, published by McClelland and Stewart (Canada) and Frederick A. Stokes Company (USA) in August 1919.

“Beneath the elusiveness and the atmospheric charm of the Montgomery tales there is a wonderful firmness of character-drawing. She never repeats herself; every adult and every youngster whom she introduces is sketched before the reader’s mind in a few lines, by little character-revealing actions and utterances, and every one is distinct and separate and consistent. Every novelist knows how difficult it is to make children stand out as human individuals, but in these three hundred pages or so Miss Montgomery does this for ten or a dozen of the most lovable and scandalous youngsters who ever got together in one volume. They elbow into the background a bunch of adults who would be interesting enough if the youngsters were not so much more so; and they leave us with a determination to get a sequel out of their author by hook or by crook, so that we may find out what becomes of them after they grow up and the Great War has come to darken their young lives. —The Canadian Bookman (Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC)