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Monday, June 03, 2013
Beautiful Words and Beautiful Writing--Carolyn R. Wilker
Photo credit: Clickr Photography
was the last time you put down a book to ponder the words and then reread a
section of text that put a thought so beautifully that you wished you had
written it? Writing that uses classy language with metaphor and depth while
telling a good story.
An author who quickly comes to mind, for
me, is Lucy Maud Montgomery, writer of the Anne of Green Gables
series and other stories and poetry. She was a master of language, and not by
In the opening to the first Green Gables book,
there’s an image of a little brook that flows through Avonlea: “it was reputed
to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through the woods,
with dark secrets of pool and cascade, but by the time it reached Lynde’s
Hollow it was a well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run
past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum.”
I’ve reread the first of the Green
Gables books at least three times, because I appreciate her writing and the
opening to her series. Montgomery had a gift, but she also worked at it, day
after day, week after week, making time for writing between all the other
details of her life—as a young girl, through school and university, as a young
woman taking care of her ailing grandmother, then later as the wife of a
minister and mother of young children. She made a way to write, and she wrote
Lest we idolize her, which might be easy
to do since her work gained so much popularity, she also had challenges in her
life, but she used writing to advantage, perhaps even as an escape. She
herself, an orphan, wrote about an orphan who had an incredible imagination,
was a dreamer, and who really just needed someone to love her.
I’d call it more of a fascination with this
writer, within a life that was anything but easy.
Gammel, author of Looking
for Anne, says that in writing about the character, Montgomery writes a
great deal about herself. One might have called it “looking for Maud” in the
Anne character, but Gammel turns it around, since in fact the subtitle is How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary
In conversation with Elizabeth Waterston
at an event in Guelph in 2008, I learned that she, too, first read Montgomery’s
work as an adult. Waterston, co-editor of Montgomery’s diaries with Mary Henley Rubio,
first learned about Montgomery during her graduate studies.
My first encounter with Lucy Maud’s
writing came as an adult hearing other people talking about her books, going to
the library to find them, and falling in love with the character Anne and the
author’s writing style. Waterston and I share the fascination, yet she has the
greater insight from her studies of Montgomery and the body of literature the author created that others can learn from.
Rubio writes on the inner cover panel of
her book Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift
of Wings: “The writings of Lucy Maud Montgomery are so familiar, so
captivating that it is easy to feel we know her. But the complex woman behind
the classic story Anne of Green Gables experienced the dark side of life as
well as the intense joy of creativity.”
In all the books and authors I’ve read
as an adult, I have encountered many authors who have worked years to develop
their craft and contribute to a body of writing, and who keep writing day after
day because to write is so important to them.
To those who write beautiful words and
powerful stories, and in celebration of excellence in writing, I say thank you, and thus, today I pay tribute to my top favourite
author, L. M. Montgomery.
placard photo at Green Gables, PEI, photo by C. Wilker
from the 100th anniversary of the publishing of Anne of Green Gables, photo by C. Wilker