Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Squee!" said the Anne-girl fangirl.

For the past decade or so, every visit to a used bookstore included a check for L.M. Montgomery's journals. Various articles had indicated that the journals would shed light on the novels I'd read so many times in adolescence, but they weren't easy to find. Until now. A co-worker let it slip at a party that she admires LMM and... has her first journal, which she has graciously loaned to me, and which I've almost finished reading. (If you know of any major revelations near the end, don't tell me!)

Reading Maud's detailed narration of her life, starting at fourteen, is like discovering a new Anne or Emily. Some passages are lifted verbatim or near-verbatim, which wasn't a huge surprise, but the general tone is even more fun to discover. Schoolroom dramas are simultaneously comedies and tragedies to her, or start as one but become the other, just as it is with her characters. It's heartening to see how well the adult LMM captured her teenaged tone.

Then there's the stuff that Anne, Emily, and her other characters never dreamed of, even if they were a little unconventional. I'd been aware that the later volumes, after her marriage, contained some thoughts darker than those expressed in her books, but in this first one, there are things LMM does, considers doing, and desires strongly to do that I doubt she could ever have mentioned in a novel intended for young ladies. The guilt she feels about it, though, is akin to what I'm sure her heroines would have felt in the same situations.

And in between, she thrills over the beauty of nature the same way Anne and Emily do--the same way that, fifteen years ago or so, inspired me to be obsessed with the sky.

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