Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Writer’s Life

by Elizabeth MacLeod

In 1908 L.M. Montgomery’s unforgettable young orphan made Anne of Green Gables an instant bestseller. But Montgomery’s success came only after years of struggle and rejection. MacLeod’s new biography is targeted at young readers who are already fans of Anne, and particularly at those who, like the young Montgomery, are aspiring writers.

MacLeod’s accessible book follows Montgomery’s journey from obscurity to fame and fortune, beginning with her childhood in Prince Edward Island with her strict grandparents. MacLeod pays particular attention to events in Montgomery’s youth, such as her publication of her first poem at 16. Montgomery faced rejection and at times despair, but she persevered, submitting Anne of Green Gables again after it had been rejected by five publishers. The book made her an overnight success, and by the time she was 30 she was earning as much money as the prime minister. Although MacLeod does refer briefly to the dark elements in Montgomery’s life (the death of her second baby, her husband’s debilitating depression) she does not dwell on them but focuses instead on the writer’s determination and triumphs.

MacLeod’s lively text is complemented by a collage of photos on each facing page: photos of Montgomery at various ages, of the houses she lived in, the room she wrote in, her typewriter, even her favourite cat. A recurring cartoon “Maud” makes comments in a speech bubble on each page. A chronology of Montgomery’s life and a list of web sites will be helpful to readers who wish to know more. MacLeod’s book is the ideal introduction to this fascinating and influential writer.