Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Writing Life: LM Montgomery Read-Along

Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series and two dozen more books, kept a journal from the time she was fourteen until she died in her sixties.

I first discovered her journals (available in five volumes) with my dear friend, Jamie C. Martin, back when I was teaching, was a soon-to-be mama, and was pursuing the writing life with as much vigor and passion as I was able to muster while figuring it all out alone.

If you've read any of Maud's books, the journals might come as a surprise. Much of the sweetness you'd expect from the author of AnneEmilyPat, and the Story Girl isn't present. Her life was a challenge in many ways. But for me, seeing Maud's daily struggles made her somehow more real and made her hopeful books that much richer. 

I have always felt an affinity for this woman. We share a lot in common as teachers, mothers to two boys, pastor's wives, authors, women who have lived with depression. These journals are insightful, funny, painful, full of longing, and brimming with the anecdotal stories you'd expect from an author of over 500 short stories. Through these books I've learned about women's schooling in the late 1800's, a bit of Canadian history and geography, societal norms, women's fashion, beginning and sustaining a writing career (in the midst of babies and a male-dominated publishing world), advancements in technology, the impact on the individual of the first and second World Wars. 

One thing I've learned in my years of writing is how solitary this profession is. Sure, we have our critique groups, online friends, agents, editors, and blog buddies (hi, Mayhemers!), but the daily work is something done largely alone. These books offer an amazing glimpse into the life of an author and provide an opportunity for rich study, deep reflection, and a whole lot of satisfying reading.

It has been some time since I've picked up these journals, and I've found myself longing to re-read the books that so deeply spoke to me over a decade ago. I'm inviting anyone who's interested to read along. This is one of two reading goals I'm setting for myself in 2013.

Our own Marissa Burt, a big LM Montgomery fan, is reading along!

Want to join in? Here's what you need to do:

Find the books

Try your public library, or order through your local indieAmazon, or Barnes and Noble. Now that they're available in paperback, they're more affordable and easier to track down.

Save the dates

Volume I: 
introductory post - Friday, February 1
discussion - Monday, February 25

Volume II:

introductory post - Monday, April 1
discussion - Monday, April 29

Volume III:

introductory post - Monday, June 3
discussion - Friday, June 28

Volume IV:
introductory post - Friday, August 2
discussion - Friday, August 30

Volume V:
introductory post - Wednesday, 2 October
discussion - Wednesday, 30 October
Read to share
Jot down anything that sparks your interest and join the discussion at my personal blog, Caroline by line. And please spread the word. 

Twitter hashtag #lmmjournals
I'll be sharing favorite quotes while reading!


  1. L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors! Anne of Green Gables and Anne's House of Dreams are my two favorite in the series. I love all her books, though! I haven't read her journals and I definitely want to.

    1. Laura, you must read along then! I've already started volume one, and there are a lot of Anne-isms you'll see in Maud herself.

  2. So interesting, Caroline. I haven't read her journals, though I feel I should have since I'm Canadian. I'm going to try to track them down.

    1. Required reading for Canadians, for sure. ;) They shouldn't be too hard to locate in Canada, I'd think? Hopefully your library would have them.

      I'd love to hear what you think!

  3. I'm so looking forward to this. I've been tracking down used copies of the volumes I didn't have...just looking for Volume V now. :)

    1. Me too! I've picked up volume one early (in order to write that first introductory post), and it has been such a delight to jump back in to Maud's world. I had a hard time finding my copies -- all were used hardbacks expect for number four, which I was able to find new in paperback.

      Good luck and happy reading!

  4. Good times. I'm not sure I'll have time to join as I'm planning to do something similar. But Marissa will be at my place tomorrow facing the 7 Questions:)

    1. I'd love to hear what you're doing! Also, feel free, all to lurk during conversations if you don't read but are interested in learning more. That's the beauty of the Internet.

  5. Love this! Her journals are some of my prized books. Enjoying it already!

  6. Replies
    1. Especially if you're a self-proclaimed nosey person, like I am! (Does this explain why I write historical fiction?)

  7. I second James - these sound absolutely fascinating.

  8. I may have to do some rereading of Montgomery, but they take me back to 7th grade in such a vivid and painful way! I had the first book practically memorized-- gave a book report on it when I was completely unprepared for the assignment!

    1. Yes! I'm reminded of middle school, too. And high school, when I learned from a friend there were many LM Montgomery books I hadn't read. This prompted me to spend the entire summer on the couch, catching up.

  9. Sounds like a wonderful project. Hild read Ann to her twins while in utero and her eight year old, Victoria (a pen and Ink guest blogger) is starting Anne now.
    I have reread all of her books so many times I can't count them.
    I think Hilde and I have to get these diaries.

    1. Yes, you must! They are a delight on many levels.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!