Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery – By Harry Bruce

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Goodreads Synopsis: Like her beloved character Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery spent her childhood a rural farmhouse. Born November 30, 1874, and raised by strict, elderly guardians, Maud had an early life full of loneliness and struggle; however, she had a secret dream: to become a writer.

As a teenager I devoured books by L. M. Montgomery, from Anne of Green Gables to collections of short stories, I loved them all.

This book is a fast read. At 176 pages it feels more like a summary of her life, than an in depth biography. But still the insight into Montgomery was interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. I came away wanting to read and know more about her.

Montgomery had an interesting life, and a hard life. She lived with her grandparents, and lost her mother at a young age, and her father gave custody of her over to family. I really was inspired by how hard she worked to become a writer. She worked her way through school, and even worked as a newspaper woman in an age where women didn’t often do those things. She married late in life, but she also had a whirlwind of romances with various young men. Montgomery seems like the type of woman with whom it would be easy to be friends with.

In the end I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

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The Blue Castle – By L.M. Montgomery

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Goodreads Synopsis: Valancy Stirling is 29, unmarried, and has never been in love. Living with her overbearing mother and meddlesome aunt, she finds her only consolation in the “forbidden” books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle–a place where all her dreams come true and she can be who she truly wants to be. After getting shocking news from the doctor, she rebels against her family and discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams. 

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Since L.M. Montgomery was a Victorian era writer I was interested to see how her works have aged, and was pleasantly surprised by this story.

The Blue Castle is about a woman whose lived her whole life doing exactly what her family and society tells her to do. She takes care of her mother and aunt, who are both rude and at times emotionally abusive to her. But after being told by a doctor that she’s going to die within a year she realizes that she has to take control of her life and do the things that make her happy.

I loved this story. Valancy’s rebellion against her family was exactly what she needed to do, and I enjoyed watching her character grow throughout the story.  I have always loved Montgomery’s writing, the prose and the way she describes woods and land and places is just stunning.  I was also pleased by this strangely feminist (for it’s time) story.  Montgomery does not believe her family knows what’s best for Valancy, especially since they’ve never taken the time to actually get to know her.  There’s no moral at the end of this story either.  Valancy’s path takes her to happiness, even if she had to hurt some people along the way.  I also loved that Montgomery showed the blatant hypocrisy shown by Valancy’s family.

All in all I enjoyed this story and would read it again. I gave it four stars on Goodreads.