What I learned from Lucy Maud Montgomery

My very favorite books in my formative years were written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. First, I read all of the Anne books (my favorites were Anne of the Island and Rilla of Ingleside because they were the most romantic), and then the Emily books (this review of Emily’s Quest is hilarious, but it includes spoilers). But I also read everything else, from The Blue Castle (I used to think the 29-year-old heroine was so old!) to A Tangled Web to Kilmeny of the Orchard. Oh there are so many of them! And I loved each and every one. More than anyone else, Lucy Maud Montgomery shaped my thoughts.

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Anne’s House of Dreams. It was so familiar to me. There are passages in it that I remember highlighting and memorizing. And it left me feeling like my cubicle life is so prosaic. If only I could live in a little white house in Four Winds within walking distance from the shore (and, you know, it wouldn’t hurt to have Gilbert Blythe around), my life would have so much more romance and beauty. I also started thinking about all the things I have learned from the world of LM Montgomery. I know this list isn’t complete, but this is what I came up with.

  • The pantry is the true heart of the home. And it is always full of pies, rows of canned and pickled fruits and vegetables, and fresh bread and jam. Also, always keep cookies or donuts on hand for any children who might stop by.
  • For your peace of mind, always keep your linen closet, boot closet, or any other closet clean and organized. Even if visitors don’t see it, you will know it is above reproach.
  • Houses have personalities and feelings. Slanted doorways, winking windows, spacious garrets, and hidden nooks are essential in a home.
  • Nature is mystical and divine. Dawn, twilight, and dusk are always bewitching hours, and three o’clock in the morning is the time when your body is closest to death.
  • All people are divided between those who know Joseph (a.k.a. kindred spirits) and those who don’t.
  • People who don’t like you at first will be won over by your imagination, sincerity, and optimism.

The theme that develops in all of Montgomery’s writing is that while your world may be small geographically (bound by domestic life or a small community), your inner world can encompass various landscapes of rich experiences and a sense of wonder. Even if you grow up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City and not in Avonlea.

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One comment

  1. Jenn · September 30, 2011

    Oh my gosh, I LOVED LM Montgomery, too! The Anne books, the Emily books, and I loved her short stories. I read and re-read them. I have always wanted to visit PEI. We should definitely go someday!

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