- The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery. Volume 5: 1935-1942, and: Anne of Green Gables
'Since then my life has been hell, hell, hell. My mind is gone - everything in the world I lived for has gone - the world has gone mad. I shall be driven to end my life. Oh God, forgive me.' This journal entry of 23 March 1942 was the last and perhaps most dramatic penned by Canada's beloved literary icon L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. When she died a month later, on 24 April 1942, the death certificate recorded laconically the primary cause of death: 'Coronary Thrombosis.' Did she actively commit suicide or did she will herself to die? The journal leaves the question open, but what is clear is how conscious the writer was of her impending death, as she inscribed her longing for the end into her journal like an epitaph.
Richly illustrated and annotated, the fifth and final volume of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery marks the completion of the magnum opus prepared under the consummate editorship of Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston - a landmark in Canadian life and letters and the capstone of three decades of groundbreaking scholarship. The journal's tone? Pathos and tragedy. Its subject matter: insomnia, sciatica, and nervous unrest; toxic family dynamics and the war. Finding little peace in her new home at 210A Riverside Drive, Toronto, Montgomery worries about her sons, in particular her first-born, Chester, a married man still living under his mother's roof, failing exams, and enjoying an extramarital affair. 'Ewan very dull' is her shorthand for the chronic ailments plaguing her husband, the Reverend Ewan Macdonald, who fails to be a true companion. Montgomery's bitterness is palpable. When she treats herself to a nice lunch, she cannot help but note: 'It was pleasant to sit there alone without Ewan's grim face opposite me.' When her former fiancé, Edwin Simpson, shows up with a new wife, she remarks testily: 'I liked her exceedingly and I can't imagine why she ever wanted to marry a broken-down invalid like Ed.' Yet through all of it, she continues to gain pleasure from writing fiction, Anne of Windy Poplars, Jane of Lantern Hill, Anne of Ingleside, and short stories. That these final novels were produced in a mood of despair is an ironic reminder that the writing of Anne of Green Gables was followed by a severe bout of depression. Volume 5 presents an important text that will stimulate further research and enrich the internationally expanding field of Montgomery studies.
In 1908, the quintessential novel of optimism and sunshine, Anne of Green Gables, propelled Montgomery into a world of international fame and has since spawned many reprints and editions. A new scholarly edition edited by Cecily Devereux based on the first edition and featuring the original illustrations by M.A. and W.A.J. Claus, Broadview's Anne of Green Gables also boasts many useful annotations, a compelling introduction with [End Page 326] a review of the scholarly literature, and an appendix with a wealth of supplementary texts, all of which make it a useful tool for university and high-school teaching. Devereux emphasizes the novel's engagement with political and social issues. By providing illuminating excerpts from the Pansy books by Isabella Macdonald Alden, Devereux also highlights the didactic, moral, and maternal elements of the novel. As Devereux argues, Anne of Green Gables presents not a departure but a maturation of Montgomery ' s style, which she had developed when writing for magazines. A 1908 school photograph of pupils and teacher graces the cover of this new edition, although some readers might have wished for a Prince Edward Island school scene.
In a fascinating essay published in Everywoman's Magazine and reprinted in the Broadview text, 'The Way to Make a Book,' Montgomery celebrates...