Family and Friendship: L.M. Montgomery
I was a pudgy little girl with pigtails lining either side of my face and a flair for the dramatic when I first met the red-headed and fiery Anne (spelled with an ‘e’) Shirley. It wasn’t long before we became the best of friends— it was evident from the start that we were “kindred spirits”. And while over the years friends have come and gone, Anne has stayed. There is, of course, the slight problem of her being a mere creation of pen and paper, but in a friendship like ours that is only a minor inconvenience.
Anne was first introduced to the world in 1908, when after subsequent rejections of Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maude Montgomery decided to try and get it published one last time. While many know of Anne’s escapades and adventures, not many know the story of the woman responsible for her existence. Like Anne, Montgomery grew up in a house where she was the only child living with an elderly couple. In an attempt to seek understanding where she found none she took to her pen and wrote voraciously.
Although perhaps her best-known series, Anne of Green Gables is in no way the only thing written by L.M. Montgomery. Her trilogy, Emily of New Moon, chronicles the misadventures of young Emily Starr, orphaned and sent off to live with her strict and rigid relatives. Despite this she maintains a positive attitude and channels her energy into her writing, much like Montgomery herself.
Although Montgomery’s writing is characterized by a pervading sense of hope, her own life was rather bleak. Her mother died when she was a young child and the following years of her life were defined by her estrangement from her father. This fragmented idea of the nuclear family permeates her writing, countered by her belief that family is not just made up of blood relations but of people who together create a home.
With characters like Anne and Emily, Montgomery has brightened the realm of children’s literature. Despite her troubled personal life characterized by her marriage and the death of her infant child, her books shine like a beacon of hope to young children struggling to define themselves.
My friendship with Anne, and later with Emily, characterized my childhood. I had always wanted glamour to be a permanent fixture of my life. Yet, as I got to know Anne, and consequently L.M. Montgomery, better I slowly learned that even the most ordinary of things can be made extraordinary if one has “scope for the imagination”. Most importantly however, I discovered that “kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.”
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