Monday, February 04, 2008

While Lucy Maud Spins

As Anne of Green Gables turns 100, we have to wonder, is author Lucy Maud Montgomery spinning in her grave? Critics and even family members say probably not, as award-winning children’s author, Budge Wilson, reanimates the Canadian author’s beloved creation.

Truth be told, though, if someone was going to take on Canada’s answer to Little Orphan Annie, Wilson has the right pedigree. As Canadian as maple syrup and Hockey Night in Canada, Wilson herself was born in Halifax and is a graduate of Dalhousie and the University of Toronto. She is the author of 29 books and editions of many of them have been published in the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Romania, Germany, Italy, Greece and Australia as well as in Braille and audio formats. She’s won just about every award for which she was eligible and her collection of short stories, The Leaving, was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association and included on the association’s list of 75 Best Children’s Books of the Last 25 Years. In 2004 she was named to the Order of Canada. In short, Wilson is no slouch. Which is good, because with the Green Gables book, she is here tipping at an icon.

By all accounts, though, the tipping works. Before Green Gables will be published February 8th by Penguin Canada and the reviews thus far have been nothing short of enthusiastic. (“Fawning” puts too fine a point on things, but it’s not far off.) Take this, from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:
Kate Macdonald Butler, one of Montgomery’s grandchildren and the spokesperson for the heirs, was crying after reading the first few pages.

“It was so beautiful how she wrote about Anne's parents,” she said in an interview from Toronto. “I was looking for Kleenex on page 4.”

Macdonald Butler never met her grandmother but she feels sure that Montgomery (who died in 1942) would be pleased. “I don’t think she’s rolling in her grave.”

Monday on The Guardian blog, Sarah Weinman took a run at explaining Anne’s century long hold on readers:
One hundred years ago, Lucy Maud Montgomery had no idea of the phenomenon she was about to introduce when her first novel, released by the Boston-based book publisher Page Company, was published.

Who would have thought that “a child of about 11, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey”, of freckled face, green-gray eyes and of course, “two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair” would inspire several sequels, a few movies, an iconic CBC miniseries (with sequels of their own), a musical or two and an entire cottage industry devoted to tourists (especially from Japan) descending upon the once unsuspecting province of Prince Edward Island?
In honor of all this Anne stuff, Penguin Canada announces a contest “inviting Canadians of all ages to write to Anne Shirley, telling her in 500 words or less, what she means to them.” Contest details are here.


Blogger Tickled Orange said...

Thanks for the article. You covered a lot of my feelings on the publication of the book. I'm planning to read it all the same, and am wondering how I'll like it (or whether I'll be crying for various reasons).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 8:53:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having read the prequel to Anne, I would vote heartily on the side of Maud spinning. Better alert the farmers in China and soon....

Monday, February 11, 2008 12:28:00 PM PST  

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