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  • House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg
  • Karen Coats
Rosenberg, Liz House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery; illus. by Julie Morstad. Candlewick, 2018 [352p]
ISBN 978-0-7636-6057-4 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10

In prose that often rivals that of her subject for its lyricism, Rosenberg presents an honest look at a woman who, while providing some of literature’s happiest moments, wavered between extremes of emotion herself. Exquisitely sensitive to both beauty and pain, Maud Montgomery suffered bouts of severe depression throughout her life, a condition exacerbated by the circumstances she endured. Following the death of her mother when she was two, Maud was also abandoned by her beloved father, who left her in the care of her stern grandparents as he moved west and started a new family. While her father and grandfather refused to support her, her grandmother dipped into her own savings to enable Maud to further her education, though not as much as the bookish Maud craved. Meanwhile, she attracted several suitors, experienced a tepid, broken engagement and a secret, more passionate but doomed relationship, and finally married Ewan Macdonald. Their marriage was not a happy one, and Rosenberg reveals the mental health issues suffered by both Maud and Ewan; disappointments with their wayward son, Chester; loss of dear friendships to early deaths; obsession with the world wars; and legal problems with her publisher that plagued Maud’s final years and led to her own untimely death, either by suicide or accidental overdose. Fans of Montgomery’s fiction will be struck by how closely she hewed to the episodes of her own life while redeeming them in her fiction, replacing tragedy and dissatisfaction with desires fulfilled. A timeline and references are included, and each chapter is fronted by a nostalgic and delicate pen-and-ink illustration that adds piquancy by capturing the light-hearted side of the beloved author. [End Page 444]



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