CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 1 . . . . September 6, 2002
There has been quite a buzz about this multi award-winning CD-ROM from the moment of its release, and I was pleased to discover that it is well-deserved. The Bend in the Road exceeded my every expectation of it and left me thoroughly impressed! Subtitled An Invitation to the World & Work of L.M. Montgomery, it is exactly that. It takes browsers on a fascinating tour of Maud's books, journals, letters and more, including her family life and many of the things that had a significant impact on her life. It is chock-full of interesting information and offers a very complete look at a woman who, according to the accompanying user guide, "was selected one of Canada's top twenty heroes of the twentieth century."
My only major disappointment with this CD-ROM was the fact that you can't operate it on a Macintosh computer. However, once you've met the minimum requirements for running it, it is very easy to install and even more simple to navigate. Even novice CD-ROM users will have no problem working their way through The Bend in the Road. It is extremely well-organized and clearly laid-out. The user guide is simple and straightforward, and I was easily able to access specific information that I was seeking and also to just browse comfortably. The CD looks at four main categories: "A Look at Her Life," "A Look at Her Works," "Her Impact on the World" and "Learning Opportunities." Within each of these categories, there are numerous options for exploring that area. For example, if you click on "Life," you can browse through a very comprehensive timeline that relates all of the significant events in Maud's life. You can peruse her family tree or look at the four main places that she called home during the course of her life. Meanwhile, in "Works," there are eight categories offering insight into everything from her photography to her cooking and sewing, in addition to her assorted written works. And it is all presented in a very clear, logical fashion with audio clips that further enable you to be transported into Maud's world.
The creators of this CD-ROM obviously had a great love for their topic and an impressive knowledge thereof as well. Not only does it contain more information than I had ever imagined possible, but the attention to details makes it truly special and an absolute must have for any collector. Even the icons were perfectly suited to their subject, and the background images and music throughout the CD were similarly just right. An example of this detail is found in the "Life" section where, when you look at her wedding, the song that plays is "The Voice That Breathed Over Eden," the very song that was played at Maud's own wedding! I was amazed and delighted with these sorts of intimate details throughout the CD. I also especially enjoyed the readings, most noteably the ones from The Blue Castle and from LMM's journals. Elizabeth Mawson is an excellent reader, and the choice of her as the reader (given her extensive involvement with the Anne musical in Charlottetown) is another example of the care and consideration that went into every aspect of this work. Moreover, if you wish to read more about any of LMM's novels, you are treated to a look at the first edition of that particular book and, in many cases, to a discussion of the book's significance by LMM scholar, Dr. Elizabeth Epperly. If you choose to look at "Her Impact on the World", by clicking on "Education," you will find a thought-provoking list of questions about Maud and her books that would be invaluable to teachers, serious fans and book clubs. As both a children's book club leader and a serious fan of LMM, I was thrilled with these questions and thought, "What a helpful and practical thing to include." Furthermore, the "Learning" section provides a truly impressive bibliography and a list of website links that will provide fans with further avenues of exploration for a lifetime!
The Bend in the Road is truly an awe-inspiring piece of work that kept me spellbound for hours during my first look at it, and it is a work which I will undoubtedly revisit time and again, both for pleasure and as a resource. It is beautifully designed with lovely graphics, captivating photographs and delightful music and audio clips throughout. It is perfect for almost all age and interest levels and should be available at every school and public library. It very definitely brings to life the world of Lucy Maud Montgomery and provides browsers with an appreciation of her as more than simply a writer of children's books. Many thanks to the L.M. Montgomery Institute for putting together such a fabulous CD which does justice to this remarkable woman in every way!
Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, NS.
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