________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 7 . . . . November 30, 2001

cover Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer's Life.

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2001.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $7.95 (pbk), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55074-489-5 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55074-487-9 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Montgomery, L.M. (Lucy Maud), 1874-1942-Juvenile literature.
Novelists, Canadian (English)-20th century-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Lisa Doucet.

**** /4

 

exerpt:

When Maud was growing up, a woman's life was very different from what it is today. Women couldn't vote or own homes. Most had little schooling. Instead of having careers, women married young and stayed home to raise their children.

But Maud dreamed of another kind of life. She wanted to be an author, even though almost all writers of the time were men. Maud faced many obstacles, but she eventually succeeded. In her lifetime, she wrote 24 books, 530 short stories and more than 500 poems. Her most famous book, Anne of Green Gables, has been published in over 20 languages and has sold tens of millions of copies around the world.

Maud's writing has brought happiness to many people. She knew how to tell stories well and had a good sense of humor. She also observed people carefully and seemed to know just which details to use to bring her characters to life.

Where did Maud get her ideas for her characters and stories? What was she really like?

This biography for young readers introduces children to one of Canada's best-known, and best-loved, authors. From a look at her childhood in Cavendish with her austere grandparents to her busy adult life as a world-renowned author, this book provides an engaging overview of her life and career. Readers learn about the time Maud spent in Saskatchewan with her father, the years she spent in Halifax both as a student and later working at a Halifax newspaper and what life was like for her as the wife of a Presbyterian minister in Ontario. As well, the book looks at Maud the writer, how she had to squeeze time into her hectic days for her writing, how the characters of 'Anne', 'Emily' and company came into being and also some of the less glamorous aspects of writing, such as dealing with rejections and even a lawsuit against her publisher.

LM Montgomery

     Elizabeth MacLeod has, in this book, done a remarkable job of capturing "the life and times of Lucy Maud Montgomery." The book is very well researched and manages to summarize the highlights of LMM's life while still bringing her vividly to life as a woman not unlike the characters that she created. The use of many quotes from Maud's journals helps the book to achieve a more intimate quality, and the quotes used are particularly well-chosen. MacLeod's book is clear, concise and well-organized, and it is both informative and entertaining, combining factual details with intriguing tidbits of lesser-known information and amusing anecdotes: for example, the hat store owner who promised LMM a hat if he liked what she wrote, and the description of several of the more noteworthy writing exercises that she was assigned during her time at the Daily Echo. The time line of Maud's life, the complete list of her books and the "Visiting Maud" section at the end of the book (which includes a listing of sites in both PEI and Ontario along with a number of LMM websites) are valuable components of the book which add to its strength as a resource for anyone who is curious about the woman who gave us Anne of Green Gables.

     Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer's Life must also be noted for its beautiful design! The consistent layout and format of the book are exemplary, with each page of text accompanied by an adjoining page of collages of LMM photos and/or artifacts. The pages are not too cluttered and yet are delightfully chock-full of interesting bits of information along with photos and excerpts from letters and journals. The sidebars on each page of text are equally appealing without being distracting. However, the red arrows between the images and explanatory text were somewhat unnecessary, and I was not especially fond of the LMM caricature: I thought that it and the speech balloons did not suit the book. On the other hand, young readers might actually appreciate this cartoon guide through the book and find that it helps them relate to Maud as a person.

     In short, I think that this book is a welcome and worthy addition to the growing collection of material about Lucy Maud Montgomery. It is certainly the most readable biography aimed at children that I have read. It is simply-written in a style that is well-suited for its intended audience. Like her earlier book about Alexander Graham Bell, Elizabeth MacLeod's treatment of LMM is entertaining and visually-appealing enough to satisfy existing fans and to entice new ones. As such, it deserves a prominent place on the bookshelves of LMM fans of all ages.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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