blancwene: (Keep a little romance - AoGG)
Take a poll of most L.M. Montgomery fans about the likeableness and believability of her main male characters. Go on, I dare you. And you know what I think the results would be? Undying love for Gilbert Blythe, some admiration for the younger Blythes, infatuation with Barney Snaith, boredom with Teddy Kent, and feelings of indifference towards many of the others.

Therein lies what I believe to be Montgomery's strength - and weakness - when it comes to her portrayal of the opposite sex. She was good at writing about average boys with good manners and some special talents. But when creating more exceptional individuals, her success rate falters. Barney Snaith was a hit, with his hidden past, secretive ways, and droll sense of humour. Teddy Kent was not. While interesting as a school-age character, he became flat and dull later on, especially in Emily's Quest.

With the exception of Jane Stuart, Montgomery's best heroines are a little eccentric and whimsical - different from the normal folks surrounding them. I would argue, though, that Montgomery's most effective male characters both juxtapose and compliment their respective heroines by their (mostly) average, unassuming personalities.

Dean Priest and company? Alas, there are no happily ever afters for you.

1. I would include Anne Shirley, Rilla Blythe, Emily Byrd Starr, Valancy Stirling, and Jane Stuart in a list of L.M. Montgomery's best heroines.
2. As much as I love Ilse Burnley, she's probably more of a secondary character than the main heroine.
3. Patricia Gardiner does not make the list because she has some phobic distrust of change. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PAT?
4. Likewise, Kilmeny Gordon and Marigold Lesley are not on my list because I frankly can't remember much from either of those books.
5. Tangled Web is brilliant, but there are too many memorable characters for me to pick one (or even ten!) as main characters.
6. I have a different problem classifying The Story Girl and The Golden Road: while the stories Sara tells are great fun, I don't think the children's characters are given enough depth.
7. Don't forget, there are now online e-texts of most of L.M. Montgomery's works. If you're feeling particularly snarky, try A Tangled Web. It's great ... except for a racist line on the final page, which I very much recommend skipping. (I know that other people during her lifetime thought the same way, but it still disappoints me.)
blancwene: (Keep a little romance - AoGG)
Hi, my name is blancwene, and I'm a L.M. Montgomery fanatic. Every few years, I reread all most of her books. I even look at old book covers for fun. And last year, when I heard about a musical based on Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, it seemed fitting that my obsession would lead me to track down information about this show. My mum gave me the cast recording for Christmas, and I couldn't stop listening to it. Anne & Gilbert perfectly captures everything I love about the books. Thus, pimpage!

A lengthy, very interesting review of the 2006 production. )
And three songs. )
blancwene: (Default)
Because EVERYONE should, at one point, in their life, read The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. Thus, this review - it explains everything much better than I could:

The Blue Castle is a perfect example of marketing gone very, VERY wrong. Those silly publishers who gave this wonderful book such a tawdry cover and shallow synopsis have done L. M. Montgomery and Valancy Stirling a huge disservice. This isn't a conventional romance, but an inspiring story of a woman who takes control of her life and discovers a beautiful world living her dream, her Blue Castle. The positive reviews may sound a little over-enthusiastic, but women and girls have reaffirmed this book as an all-time favorite time and time again. Everyone I know who has read this wishes they had gotten to it sooner and/or laments its undeserved obscurity. My sister and I fight over our copy, stupid cover and all, since we both feel compelled to read it a few times a year.

Here's why: Valancy Stirling is an Everywoman - all of us can relate to her helplessness and apathy, her joys and triumphs. In Valancy's case, her intimidating, suffocating family and poverty have instilled fear from a young age, when she was an insignificant little girl. After a lifetime of negative comments, she finds herself a hopeless, though respectable, old maid at the age of 29, unloved and unwanted even by her own mother. Then Dr. Trent tells her she has a terminal heart condition, and Valancy throws all caution to the winds, deciding to really *live* for her last few months.

Her repressed personality and spirit finally express themselves, often humorously and cheekily. She says what's on her mind, sees her relatives as the sillies they are, and very importantly, refuses to wear her hated red flannel petticoat. You will feel deliciously refreshed as Valancy lives on her own terms for once. The characters are well drawn with Montgomery's typically detailed hand, giving life to each of the distinctive citizens of Deerwood, from hilarious Roaring Abel to sweet Cissy to the fearsome Rev. Stalling, as well as many members of the upright, uptight Stirling clan. Also as important as the people is the marvelous Muskoka "up back," with its evocative descriptions in the John Foster books Valancy devours, and the lovely little island of Mistawis and its natural wonders.

Most readers will agree that The Blue Castle is an adult book. Considering L. M. Montgomery wrote *all* her books for an adult audience, this isn't strange. What makes this one more so isn't content so much as appreciation. Any adolescent will enjoy the book, but it takes those years after being a teen to truly empathize with Valancy's story. The Blue Castle is about disappointment and renewal, bitterness and second chances, rarely in the realm of an age of "firsts" - which is why this one markedly lacks the preciousness that is often found (appropriately) in the "younger" books like The Story Girl, the Anne of Green Gables, and the Emily of New Moon books. Give this book a try - you won't regret it. This is one to share and pass on.

Amen, agtpeach.


blancwene: (Default)



It is always remarkable when someone sees your soul to a better degree than you see it yourself. You could count the people who see your soul on one hand. Others might know you but they would forget; their knowledge of you was like a weak and undisciplined thing. But that wasn’t so with him. He didn’t forget. It stuck in his mind. He had seen a kindred soul. He had seen it long ago. She only saw it now. But she was stricken with it. Suddenly she had identified him. There was the man she loved. As a result, she proceeded dementedly to behave as if the opposite were true.

–Nancy Lemann, The Fiery Pantheon

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