This is yet another post about my literary hero, L M Montgomery. (I should start a new label for these . . . hmm. I'll label this post that way. At some point I'll go back and label the old ones!)
As I've mentioned before, I'm reading the fifth and final volume of her journals. I'm going through the book very slowly, just a couple of pages a day, usually right before bed. It's fascinating and educational all at once. And sad.
She spent her last years very depressed. Where I'm at right now, she's visiting her beloved Prince Edward Island for probably the last time and mourning the fact that all her childhood haunts were going to be soon desecrated by being turned into a national park. (I'm not sure I'd have the heart to visit those spots now . . . it would almost be a slap in her face to be one more of the hordes of tourists she dreaded.)
At this point she was also rereading a lot of her old work and commenting on some of it. Some of it felt as if she were reading someone else's work, since it had been so long since she'd written it, decades in some cases. She mentioned a couple of short stories that made her wistful--she thought they were some of the best work she'd ever done, but didn't think she could write like that anymore. She'd "lost" something. I don't think she meant in skill, but in perspective and outlook on the world and life.
One thing I thought fascinating is that she determined that she thought Rilla of Ingleside was her best novel, and thought that her weakest book was Windy Poplars. I've thought the exact same thing ever since I read them the first time. Rilla is her best. Poplars . . . meh. It's entertaining, but it's not stellar. Taking the #2 slot would have to be The Blue Castle, followed by the Emily trilogy.
At this point in her life, she was writing Jane of Lantern Hill and had yet to publish Anne of Ingleside, which were her last two books. I enjoyed both of those much more than Poplars. Eventually I might post about some of the ways certain events in her life impacted the storylines of those last two books, particularly one thread in Ingleside.
So here I am reading my icon's journals and planning to pick up another one of her books soon, which I do every year, and I receive an e-mail just last night.
It's the kind of thing I would have only dreamed of back in the eighth grade when I had my nose tucked inside an L M Montgomery book at all times and had delusions of grandeur of becoming like her.
The e-mail was from my dear friend (and hugely talented member of my critique group), Lu Ann, who teaches junior high English and has for some three decades. She was also named as Utah's Best of State K-12 educator of 2008.
Her 9th grade honors English students recently took a test in her class. One question asked them to use a book they had read for their lit. circle (I imagine that's like an in-class book group where they discuss books) and compare it to another book they'd read during the school year.
For her lit. circle book, one student chose Anne of Green Gables. (My kind of girl, obviously.)
The book she compared Anne to?
House on the Hill.
If you're looking for me, I'll be on Cloud 9.
"She did a pretty good job of it, too," according to Lu Ann. And now I'm part of her test!
To repeat: I have been compared to L M Montgomery.
I might be able to die happy now.
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