Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

I remember reading the Anne books when I was about 10 years old and immediately connecting with the red-haired protagonist, being a precocious, red-haired kid myself.  The beautifully descriptive luminous prose of the books have resonated with generations of readers.  More than any other books I can think of, the setting of PEI and Avonlea, Green Gables and all the familiar places from the books are so vital to the narrative, they become characters themselves.  L.M Montgomery's life shared many characteristics with her fictional protagonist, including practical orphan status, difficulty and hardship, but managed to maintain a positive attitude despite her challenges.

Even though I was always enchanted by the stories, I was not very familiar with the biography of Maud Montgomery and had never made a pilgrimage to visit the real settings themselves.  Montgomery had such a gift of description that I felt as though I was there, walking in the same places and seeing the same settings as Anne (and Montgomery herself) did.

This book was a wonderful surprise for me.  I was expecting photographs of PEI and the areas described in the Anne books, but there was so much more.  The book is filled with beautiful photography and beautiful descriptions.  In addition, there is a well written biography of Maud Montgomery herself, often in her own words in excerpts from her journals, interwoven into the text and photos.  There are many period photos, many colorized by Montgomery herself, showing the landscapes and family which were part of her everyday life and provide context for her writing.

There is such a richness to this book. The style of writing suits Montgomery's prose and the parts written by the author, Catherine Reid, blend so seamlessly into the quoted and historical parts of the book that they are not at all distracting or jarring.  She writes distinctly, but masterfully, and in a manner which complements but doesn't detract.

The photography is rich and varied.  The scenery is beautiful.  I can certainly see this book becoming a display/coffee table book for the photography, but the narrative is just as beautiful.

Four stars (and it makes me want to go revisit the original books, which I haven't read in many years).

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.  

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