Monday, March 12, 2007

NOT an Anne Freak

I know this may come as a shock to many people. To many of my close friends, in fact.

But I am not an Anne of Green Gables freak.

Sure, I have every single one of Anne books. They're all dog-eared and nearly memorized. I own all the movies except for the last one, which is a vile thing that should never have been made. (Any self-respecting fan knows what I'm talking about, and I could go on a rampage about the timeline, the characters, the technology, and the sheer adulteration of all things Montgomery, but I'll spare you.)

I was introduced to Anne in the eighth grade. It was the year when L.M. Montgomery's books were somehow being republished after a long time of being out of print, and I scooped them up as quickly as they were being reprinted (and as quickly as my allowance let me). I remember the excitement of buying Rilla of Ingleside at the Farrer Middle School book fair.

My closest friends were doing the same, and we were all living the Anne life. We took long walks through nature and watched sunsets and ate cookies and had tea parties the way we imagined Anne and Diana might have. We started (okay, I started) a creative writing club based on Anne's.

But there was a big difference in how the rest of them viewed our activities. While they imagined themselves as being Anne, I imagined myself as her creator.

Forget Anne; I was Lucy Maud Montgomery!

Oh, I liked Anne. I still do. But I wanted to be the writer who made her up. I wanted to create a character and stories. I wanted the paper and pencil in my hands (or the keys of the typewriter under my fingers).

To this day, I have an entire shelf in my office that carries my LMM books. And it has a lot more than Anne; it has all of her books that I began collecting in eighth grade. At some point (when I really, really trust them) I'll let my daughters borrow them.

In addition to Anne, there's Pat and Emily and Marigold and Kilmeny and The Story Girl and Jane and Valancy and The Tangled Web and a slew of short stories. There's an autobiography. There's five volumes of journals. There's a CD of photographs and information about LMM's life. There's a volume that includes poetry and other writings that pre-date Anne.

And if I'm being perfectly truthful, Anne doesn't even make the top three of my favorite LMM heroines.

To me, Anne is only a slice of who Maud really was. (No, she didn't go by Lucy. She actually hated that name.) And for that matter, she only wrote eight books about Anne because the public demanded it. Even she got tired of Anne. Ever wonder why she started writing about Anne's KIDS?

I love learning about who she really was, what her life was like. How it differed from her books. (VERY MUCH.)

Some day I'd love to go to Canada and visit places that are special to her.

And no, it wouldn't necessarily be the Green Gables house, although that might be fun. I'd prefer the manses where she spent her married life and did the majority of her writing, and that might mean not visiting Prince Edward Island. Instead I'd go to Leaksdale and Norval, both not too far from Toronto, on the mainland.

If I ever do go to PEI, I'll be sure to go to Park Corner and check out the little nail by the stairs that she used to measure herself on each time she visited her cousins. Those are the little human elements that make her real to me.

LMM has had such an impact on me that I've noticed phrases, characters, and even plot lines in my own work that hearken to hers--unintentionally. My computer is even named after her. (Maud, of course, not Lucy.)

As a nod, I try to read one of her books each year. Up next? Anne's House of Dreams.


Luisa Perkins said...

Oooh, Annette! We WERE separated at birth. I, too, have always dreamed of being Maud. Or L.M. Alcott. Or L.I. Wilder. Or the writer of my favorite children's book of all time, The Diamond in the Window: Jane Langton.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Sigh! I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy right now. There's nothing like L.M. Montgomery talk to do it to me. And you know how I, too, feel about that ghastly movie.

I've imagined myself as Anne, as Maud, but mostly as Rilla. I identify more with Rilla (and maybe Emily) than any of her other characters.

Annette Lyon said...

Tristi, you just nailed two of my top three! Valancy is the third. Before I ever finished a novel on my own, I wrote a screenplay based on the Blue Castle. Coincidence? Methinks not!

Anonymous said...

I should obviously renew my friendship with LMM. I had a good start ten(!) years ago, when I read Emily-books for the first time in English. Next touch with LMM was two years ago, when a book called Uuden Kuun ja Vihervaaran tytöt or The Girls of New Moon and Green Gables was published in Finland. It is a collection of texts written by Finnish LMM readers about their relationship with LMM and her books. The stories are great: funny, touching, surprising and easy to understand. I just had to read through all the nearly 400 pages as quickly as possible.

That book got me interested in LMM's selected journals, and this post reminded me about that interest... There seems to be only one copy of each volume in the main library of Helsinki, let's see if I can get hold of them! Thanks!


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