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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Anne of Ingleside & Conclusion

I was going to do the conclusion tomorrow, but I just wanted to be done with this book!

I found Waterston‘s analysis of Anne of Ingleside to be a mixed bag. Her discussion of the symmetrical structure of the novel was fascinating, identifying paired or opposing themes that mirror each other throughout the book. Some of the biographical connections were illuminating, while ⤵️

BarbaraJean (Cont‘d)…many continued to be a stretch. She casts Aunt Mary Maria in such an ominous light, as if she‘s intentionally inflicting harm on the family—I read her as annoying, bitter, and petty, but not intentionally malicious. I disagreed with W.‘s emphasis on the vignette where Anne is commissioned to write a poem as an obituary. To say that LMM is “bitter enough about the writing life to debunk the whole business of writing” is a rather extreme⤵️ 1h
BarbaraJean (Cont‘d) interpretation of what to me reads as a funny and disappointing little event in Anne‘s life. I also don‘t read Anne‘s jealousy at the end as mocking or “funny for the reader.” Or as a reference to Ewan being displeased at LMM‘s fame. Ugh. I just get so tired of Waterston‘s dubious connections to LMM‘s life, as well as the way she overdramatizes scenes that seem minor and then dismisses others. As to the conclusion, I didn‘t hate it, but⤵️ 55m
BarbaraJean (Cont‘d)…I didn‘t find much that was meaningful, either. She harped on the island theme a LOT—OK, it IS her title and a linking thread, but it still felt over-done. And in emphasizing the “commentary on life and art” she sees in LMM‘s work, I think she completely missed several other key themes in LMM‘s books: love of place, human foibles, and “kindred spirits” among them. That emphasis is probably part of why I had difficulty connecting with⤵️ 46m
BarbaraJean (Cont‘d)…her analysis so very often. Never mind my issues with her biographical stretching and weird obsession with names. 😂 45m
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Jane of Lantern Hill

Sigh. Add fat-shaming to the list of my frustrations with Waterston: “As Montgomery grew older (and fatter), she perhaps dreamed more about food.” What even is happening? Why is that comment even here?!?

W. makes a valid point about Jane‘s second PEI visit being a bit over the top—I agree that the lion episode is kind of the final straw in far-fetched-ness. But then there‘s an ⤵️

BarbaraJean (Cont‘d)…immediate pivot to a very odd comment saying in this section LMM “seems to mock her own achievement and ridicule her own narrative.” Which—what? Did I miss something? I don‘t even understand where that leap came from. Because Jane has this series of “fabulous—and unlikely—successes,” LMM is mocking her own achievements? More ridiculous stretches claiming every important character represents LMM and everything parallels LMM‘s life. 🙄 1d
CSeydel Good grief! 1d
TheAromaofBooks Oh my gosh WHY. Sometimes Waterston makes me feel like I'm losing my mind! I absolutely love Jane of Lantern Hill, so (this will shock you) I have some thoughts 😂 I actually did think a lot of what she had to say was interesting, especially about the parallels of LMM moving to Toronto and actually creating a home there that she loved. And I agree that the second summer Jane is on the Island starts to feel a little ridiculous. I also thought the⬇ 18h
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) footnote talking about the heatwave Toronto was experiencing while LMM was writing was interesting. (Although another footnote stating that Valancy's middle name was Victoria with a whole little commentary about it was just bizarre, since Valancy's middle name is actually Jane...????)

I was frustrated by W's portrayal of Jane's mother as “a social butterfly, rather like ... the giddy flappers in A Tangled Web, or Valancy's socialite ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) socialite cousin.“ I've always felt that Jane's mother had love self-esteem and was easily bullied/convinced that Jane's father didn't really love her, not that she abandoned her husband for the frivolity of socialite life. At the end of the chapter W talks about Jane's near-death experience drawing “butterfly Robin“ back to her marriage, as though she just flitted off to have some fun, which I think really devalues Robin's character. ⬇ 17h
TheAromaofBooks However, I did like W's comparison of Jane to some of LMM's other heroines - Jane is sturdy, practical, down-to-earth. The line of Jane saying that she owes God an apology is actually one of my favorites in LMM's writing. I also liked the line, “Feminists might deplore the implication of domestic subservience as happiness. But Jane - and many of her readers - accepts the idea of nurturing as a new part of her destiny.“ For once, I feel like W ⬇ 17h
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) actually understood something about this story - Jane doesn't find happiness because she's destined to be a drudge of a housewife someday; instead she finds joy in being able to DO things, especially things that help other people. While I picture Jane someday falling in love and being a delightful wife and mother, I can also see her no-nonsense attitude pursuing a career.

One final thing I thought was a little odd - why the dig about ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) Gilbert's illness?? I've always thought him getting sick because he was so overworked and exhausted felt completely reasonably (especially coupled with the presumed emotional difficulties he was going through believing that he and Anne would never be together). It felt like a weird thing to bring up out of the blue. 17h
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Oh, I was SO frustrated with the way W. dismisses Robin! I don't read her as a “socialite“ at ALL--certainly not “giddy“ or an echo of horrible Olive in Blue Castle. Her insecurities are manipulated by her domineering mother. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I had the impression that Robin was expected to go out to all these social events--her mother demanded she be a “social butterfly“--not that it was necessarily her choice. 31m
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I also liked W's analysis of Jane's difference from LMM's other heroines. I didn't like the way she projected feminist impressions of the text, partly because it felt like a straw man--“domestic subservience“ isn't what is pictured here at all. Jane doesn't cook and clean and keep house because she's subservient, she genuinely enjoys being useful and is happiest when she has work to do. W. seems to understand that even if she ⬇ 20m
BarbaraJean (Cont'd)...presents a lousy imagined criticism of the text in order to poke holes in it! And yes, that comment about Gilbert was weird! Gilbert's illness makes sense to me within the story, not just as a plot device. I also thought W's wording about Jane's illness was strange: that she “deserved“ to get sick after walking 5 miles in the rain. I get what she meant, that it was a natural consequence of those actions, but it was an odd word choice. (edited) 16m
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Anne of Windy Poplars

More of the same old Waterston here. More tenuous claims of parallels, places where she doesn‘t seem to “get” the book she‘s analyzing. And I felt like she contradicts herself in two subsequent paragraphs above: first Katherine Brooke is a picture of Isobel Anderson, and then Katherine Brooke is another LMM self-portrait. I don‘t buy either parallel. Katherine Brooke ends up as a ⤵️

BarbaraJean (Cont‘d) …quite sympathetic character, and I don‘t think that‘s the direction LMM would have gone with a parallel to the obsessive and unbalanced Isobel. And the LMM parallels are even more of a stretch. I‘d say Anne‘s struggles with the Pringle clan are a better parallel to LMM‘s frustrations with “forces working against her,” from parishioners to literary critics. Also, I completely disagree that there are “no more funny ‘scrapes‘”! ⤵️ 3d
BarbaraJean W. describes an episode I‘d call a “funny scrape” (Cyrus Taylor‘s sulks) on the very next page. I did find the origins of Windy Poplars super interesting, though—how LMM first wrote stories with a new Anne book in mind, then worked them into a novel. It explains the book‘s episodic nature, and also shows how LMM‘s editing & writing evolved—here, she works related stories into a cohesive whole, rather than shoehorning Anne into existing material. 3d
julieclair Unfortunately, I have fallen way behind on this buddy read. 😔 But… I love that whenever I do catch up, I can still participate in the discussion! Litsy is the best! 3d
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TheAromaofBooks I marked this same page! After reading about Anderson in Rubio's biography, I don't feel that she's anything like Katherine, especially considering she acts literally the opposite towards Anne than Anderson does towards LMM. I marked the sentence about Anne not getting into “scrapes“ as well. While I do feel like Anne is more mature in this book (which makes sense), she still has the ability to get involved in hijinks for sure. ⬇ 3d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) I'm sure you noticed the part where W talks about Anne's nonexistent writing career AGAIN when she was pointing out that because this book takes place between two already-written books, LMM couldn't mess with any continuity, including “no rebirth of Anne's writing career“ - but supposing that Anne HAD writing ambitions, I don't see any reason why those wouldn't have been able to happen here. The reason they didn't is because - they ⬇ 3d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) don't exist!

However, I did think it was interesting to contrast this story with the Chronicles - interconnected stories purposefully written to include Anne vs previous short stories rewritten to wedge her in. Transplanting Anne into an entirely different community works for this book, I think. While Anne dearly loves Green Gables and Avonlea, I think her childhood also helped her learn that her “home“ is people, not places, and she ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) has cultivated the ability to find “home people“ wherever she lives. I hadn't really thought about it before, but she moves around much more than other heroines (granted, she also encompasses more page time than other heroines). Overall, I think Windy Poplars actually does emphasize Anne's actual passion, which is people and helping them (rather than observing and writing).

One thing W didn't get into that I thought she would is that ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) there are differences between the British and American editions of this book, including the title. My understanding is that the American edition actually toned down some of the stories from Mrs. Tomgallon and the other woman she meets in the cemetery who tells all the tales about the people buried there. I was a little surprised that W didn't talk about that, even when mentioning that the original title was Windy Willows. 3d
TheAromaofBooks @julieclair - As you can see, we've gotten quite into this discussion, so you are VERY welcome to come back any time and we'll be happy to talk about it some more. Barbara and I could probably use a third perspective since we mostly tell each other how right we are in our opinions 😂 3d
BarbaraJean @julieclair I second @TheAromaofBooks - please do chime in when/if you read more of this! You are of course welcome to agree with our strong opinions on the content (we've had a lot to say about stuff we don't like and I don't think we've even covered all of that comprehensively 😂) but a different voice is always helpful to broaden the perspective! 1d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I love that idea, that Anne demonstrates that “knack“ for connecting with and helping people here. That's a clear theme linking the various episodes. Anne herself (& the broader story of her struggles & successes) serves to link together the stories--it makes such a difference from Chronicles to have a framing story woven throughout! Probably also helps when you have a congenial publisher who isn't squirreling away your material ⬇ 1d
BarbaraJean (Cont'd)...so he can make an exploitative buck off you later. But I digress. 😂 The idea that Anne finds her “home people“ in each place is a lovely one. She really does create home wherever she finds her kindred spirits, or “the race that knows Joseph.“ Katherine Brooke resents and envies that--another clear difference from Isobel, who was grasping and possessive about LMM, rather than pushing her away out of self-protection, as Katherine does. ⬇ 1d
BarbaraJean I was also surprised at the lack of comment on the title--W. presents “Windy Willows“ as an earlier version of the title, but I had thought that was another difference between American and British editions, along with toning down the family scandals and salacious graveyard gossip!

I TOTALLY noticed the return to comments on Anne's writing. I thought W. had a valid point on the constraints of writing a novel where the timeline falls between two ⬇
BarbaraJean (Cont'd)...already-published books. Then she quickly pivoted from an interesting & valid discussion to rehash a point I disagreed with 😂 Honestly, I don't see a problem with a “rebirth“ of Anne's writing in WP, if LMM had gone there. Anne could have continued writing her “little fancies“ & even been published without upsetting the established narrative. As long as she wasn't portrayed as suddenly becoming famous--unlikely in the timeline anyway! 24h
julieclair @TheAromaofBooks @BarbaraJean I am very much enjoying reading your strong opinions, even though I have no idea whether I share them, having not read the material! 😂 18h
TheAromaofBooks I've always enjoyed the framework of this book, a balance between Anne's letters to Gilbert and a third-person narrative. In some ways, this is the most personal view we get of Anne - much more of her actual feelings about things via the letter.

And yes, we definitely couldn't have had Anne become a famous novelist during this time, but I see no reason why, if writing was genuinely important to her, she wouldn't have continued to send off ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) little shorts.

LMM is so amazing at creating entire communities of people - “clans“ with their ins and outs, and I think she establishes that interconnectedness so well here. Most of her novels still tend to be episodic, but she manages to create a narrative framework/group of people that keeps all those threads together.
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Yes--LMM creates such believable little communities & all their quirky interactions! LMM is such a great observer of human nature. Growing up in a small, interconnected (quite literally with its Tangled-Web-like intermarrying!) community like Cavendish likely nurtured that talent & offered plenty of material. I 💜 the framing narrative in WP--it's what stands out to me about this book, so much so that I forget how episodic it is! 36m
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Mistress Pat

I‘m not enamored with Mistress Pat as a novel—and I‘m also not enamored with this chapter. Waterston does more over-interpreting here, and while I agree that the ending of Mistress Pat is “troubling”—I find it very abrupt and bizarrely deus-ex-machina—her characterization of other LMM endings was maddening. Sigh. @TheAromaofBooks This is the one you bailed on before the ending, right?

TheAromaofBooks This is the only LMM book I haven't read. I didn't enjoy Pat of Silver Bush, and everything I read said this was more of the same and also worse 😂 So I actually was interested to read the more detailed synopsis of the story that W presented here. It sounds like the Pat/Jingle relationship was a lot like Emily/Teddy. I'm not sure I would consider the ending of this book to be “a snug happy ending“ as W states, despite the resolution of Pat's ⬇ 4d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) romance. But the paragraph that really set me off in this chapter was towards the end where W states that the ending of LMM's earlier books “had been at best ambivalent, and in tone subdued,“ implying that none of the “happy endings“ were actually happy - that Anne was merely resigned to her future with Gilbert (seriously?!?!!?), this whole thing once again that Emily “switched her ambitions into submission to Teddy's career,“ which as ⬇ 4d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) we've discussed isn't remotely supported by the text, and that Valancy “settled in ominously with old Doc Redfern as a father-in-law. What?! What exactly about Dr. Redfern makes him an “ominous“ figure!? He seems like a genuinely kind, generous, sweet old man who is so excited to see his son happy and settled????? I actually agree that the ending of Mistress Pat is not great, but I thought W's reasons for it being not-great didn't make ⬇ 3d
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) a lick of sense, and then she threw in a bunch of absolute nonsense about the way earlier books ended as well! Seriously, has she even read these books!?!?!?!?

Also, speaking of poor reading comprehension, I just reread what you originally said where you mentioned this paragraph, and I just misread it 😂 So maybe I should be cutting W. some slack?? ... nah 😆
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Pat/Jingle is VERY similar to Emily/Teddy, if you add a parade of suitors that Pat turns down for frivolous reasons, and replace creepy Dean's possessiveness & control with an older-ish love interest who takes Pat on her own terms instead of manipulating her into a relationship. Jingle is a LOT like Teddy, but better. At least in the first book. Mistress Pat kind of ruins him for me. It ruins a lot of things, honestly 😂 ⬇ (edited) 24h
BarbaraJean (Cont'd) The ending of Mistress Pat is SO contrived, it is very far from being snug and tidy! It is happy, but not convincingly so, because it's far-fetched and rushed. I feel like LMM wrote herself into a corner with such a static character who had dug in her heels about change and rejected so many suitors because they would take her away from Silver Bush. There weren't many realistic ways out of the dilemmas LMM wrote Pat into. ⬇ 24h
BarbaraJean (Cont'd) Also I just have to say YES WHAT THE HECK about the way W. mischaracterizes basically all of LMM's significant love-story endings. I just DON'T understand her view of LMM's happy endings. W. seems determined to cast doubt on every single one of them. The Doc Redfern comment made me so mad!!! And where does she get that Anne was “resigned“ to being with Gilbert?!? 😡 😫 24h
TheAromaofBooks Apparently since Anne couldn't get her brilliant writing career off the ground, she just had to “settle“ for Gilbert! 😂 17h
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Gilbert is CLEARLY Plan B. 😂 😂 42m
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Pat of Silver Bush

I appreciated the focus on friendship in this chapter—Waterston draws out the connections between LMM‘s deep friendships and Pat‘s friendships with Bets and Jingle (I loved that LMM had a “secret field” with friends!). That focus reminds me that there is more to this book than Pat‘s obsessive fear of change and love for home. And most of the connections W. makes were helpful ones ⤵️

BarbaraJean (Cont‘d) …other than the commentary on Bets‘ death, which in some ways was apt (Frede and Laura both were clearly on LMM‘s mind) but in other ways ran too far with the idea (“she is offering an appropriate warning to readers who felt as deeply as she did not to trust fate to dole out anything but a tragic fate to one‘s friends” 🙄) 5d
TheAromaofBooks Weirdly, considering this is one of my least favorite LMM books, I actually really found this chapter interesting. Most of W's connections felt less tenuous here. While I always think of Emily as being LMM's closest biographical character, I can definitely see a great deal of her in Pat as well after reading more about LMM's life and her yearning for home, belonging, and connection. The discussion about things that were changing back on the ⬇ 5d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) Island at this time, plus an overall nostalgia for a world that has been completely upended after the War and the beginning of the Great Depression, put this book into a better context for me, something beyond Pat just being obnoxiously obsessed with her home and things staying the same. Pat as a young character still feels a bit ridiculous to me, but Pat written by an adult who is somewhat homesick for the warmth of her childhood ⬇ 5d
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) community and connections, makes more sense.

While viewing Bets's death as a “warning“ definitely felt rather ridiculous, the decision to kill her off being influenced by the death of close friends in LMM's life did make sense to me. That's always felt like such a bizarre plot choice, but I think LMM was feeling isolated and abandoned, and that ends up being how she somewhat leaves Pat as well. 😕
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Yes, I thought the historical and biographical connections were very relevant here. They helped to provide context for why LMM says that “Pat is more myself than any of my heroines.“ That never made sense to me--like you, I see far more connections with Emily--but this chapter fleshed out the context in a way that clicked for me. The context of post-War upheaval and the Great Depression also made me realize one of the reasons ⬇ 4d
BarbaraJean I found Pat so comforting when I first read it in late 2020. Talk about a year of upheaval! A story of a cozy home where a character longs for all her dear childhood places to stay the same & all her beloved family to remain with her always--that resonated with me quite deeply at that time! And while LMM's life circumstances are definitely mirrored in that particular plot choice, I think there's also a need in the plot to force change for Pat. ⬇ 4d
BarbaraJean It makes sense to me that one of the ways LMM chooses to bring change and growth for Pat is through a life circumstance she herself was struggling with at the time. SOMETHING had to change, and while I was heartbroken for Pat about what that change was, I think it did have to be something deeper and more painful than, say, one of her beloved trees being cut down, etc. 4d
TheAromaofBooks It's true, losing a critical person in Pat's life I think forces her character to start to realize that change is inevitable. I think the reason Pat's story somewhat frustrated me was that it felt like she was never given any encouragement or healthy ways to deal with her genuine fear of change, but reading this chapter made me think more about the way LMM never was really given those tools, either. She struggled with her mental health all her ⬇ 3d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) her life, but without any real guidance on how to deal with her emotions and fears. So in a way, Pat's situation seems a more realistic reflection of some of LMM's feelings and the difficulty she sometimes had with knowing what to do with them. 3d
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead: Magic Island - A Tangled Web

I don‘t have much to say on this chapter—a bit scattered, but that makes sense for a book that weaves together so many disparate stories! I DO want to know if the above is true or just speculation. If it‘s true, I want to know who might correspond to whom and why—especially which of the CAA members she lampooned! But my guess is that it‘s just Waterston speculating again.

TheAromaofBooks Yes, she once again seemed to be using her name-method for this assumption - these names sounded like ones from her childhood SO 😂 I thought it was interesting that W. seemed to think that LMM “telling not showing“ at the beginning of the novel, where she goes around the room and talks about the various characters, was poor writing. Maybe it's because I actually don't mind some telling in my books, but I've actually always rather enjoyed this ⬇ 6d
TheAromaofBooks (Cont'd) big set-up scene, where you get little hints of what is to come and who these people are. This is probably petty, but I also thought it was weird that W. kept emphasizing that they wouldn't find out what happens until “next Hallowe'en“ when Halloween is literally never mentioned? Aunt Becky does say “the last day of next October“ but the Hallowe'en emphasis felt like W. was trying to make this scary or something?? I also felt like W. ⬇ 6d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) missed what I consider one of the critical factors of this story - W. says that things like swearing, drinking, being single - “these and other behaviors that offend Aunt Becky will stand in the way of gaining the coveted jug.“ But what actually happens in the story is that these things MIGHT stand in the way - Becky is even more devious in that she refuses to tell the clan any definitive ways they can earn the jug. She may have already ⬇ 6d
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) written down a name or she may have given Dandy the freedom to choose, or she may have said that it can be so-and-so if he hasn't gotten drunk in the last year. It's the lack of knowing what they can or shouldn't do that gives this entire book its sense of unease and tension. If everyone just knew they had to follow some rules, they would. But it's very different to try to decide if you should give up something you enjoy because it MIGHT⬇ 6d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) benefit you! And then, of course, W. tells us what books this one is like because only in Pride and Prejudice has a woman ever realized the guy she's dating is a jerk 😂

I always have mixed feelings about this book, I think because there are so many different storylines. Some of them I love, some of them I'm ambivalent towards, and some I actively dislike (especially the Sams), so I always end up not being able to decide if I actually ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) like this novel or not! I thought it was interesting when W. pointed out that LMM went from writing about her youngest heroine to-date in Marigold, to writing a book emphatically for adults. The humor here is much darker and there are just as many not-happy endings as happy ones, which I do think reflects some of the struggles LMM was having. 6d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks This is one place where I actually would've enjoyed some speculation on who LMM might have been parodying! I thought the “telling not showing“ criticism was odd as well--my creative writing professor in college said that “telling“ USED to be the trend in literature, but if we were going to write contemporary fiction, we needed to “show not tell.“ Waterston's criticism felt to me like she was misapplying modern standards backwards. 5d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Personally I felt the big set-up scene was needed, because there are SO many characters. I bookmarked it to refer back to! And YES to Waterston (again) seeming to miss the point of the “trial“ year. It also bugged me that Waterston suggested that Aunt Becky may or may not be alive during/at the end of that year. I was fairly certain she KNEW she would die soon, which made the uncertain stipulations that much more devious! ⬇ (edited) 5d
BarbaraJean (Cont'd) Like you, I found Tangled Web to be a mixed bag. I LOVED some of the storylines, hated a few, and have completely forgotten several others. I think it's a fascinating book and really well done, though. LMM weaves together all the threads very intricately (her construction is not nearly as tangled as the title... 😂). At this point I'm finding it fascinating to consider the novels in the order they were written. ⬇ 5d
BarbaraJean (Cont'd) It makes SO much sense that Blue Castle was written before this one. This one seems to follow on from Blue Castle as a development in LMM's writing for adults. Blue Castle brings in some darker/edgier themes, and this one goes much further. Even Marigold falling in between those two shows a progression in LMM's writing, I think--with the way Magic for Marigold explores ideas of child psychology and even perspectives on parenting. 5d
TheAromaofBooks Yes, watching the progression of her books has been SO interesting! She's so committed to continue writing books that bring joy, but you can see where the struggle of her real life is starting to influence her writing. While The Blue Castle is possibly my favorite LMM, the Stirlings are rather dreadful, and the beginning of that book can be hard to read. (I've sometimes wondered if that is why that book didn't sell as well at the time - it's a ⬇ 5d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) very different flavor from her other books, and has a sad start.) Marigold is a lovely story with some wonderful adventures and characters, but there is a still an undertone of wistfulness and loneliness. Tangled Web enlarges on some of those themes - there is a dash of bitterness in every story here, and while the overall story has a great deal of wry humor, I wouldn't consider it as lighthearted as her earlier books. 5d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Oh, the Stirlings are TERRIBLE at the beginning!! And Valancy is so trapped that it is quite bleak. I do think the Stirling clan is a great example of LMM's skill at both characterization and caricature. And that beginning section provides such a great setup for when Valancy finally lets loose. That whole family dinner scene is HILARIOUS. Tangled Web is definitely NOT lighthearted. It's funny, but the humor is so much darker. 4d
TheAromaofBooks I completely agree about the beginning of The Blue Castle - it sets up everything exactly right. You NEED to understand what Valancy's life is like - so dreary and downtrodden. The whole first chapter or two where she is reflecting on the picnic that isn't going to happen, and how she already knows what everyone would have said if they had had the picnic because it's always the same - that's honestly brilliant writing. You get such a grasp of her⬇ 3d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) weariness! The family dinner is one of my favorite chapters of any book ever. It makes me laugh every time. Her bewildered family, and Valancy's dawning realization that they actually can't stop her from saying and doing what she wants - it's absolutely amazing. BUT all that to say, I can see LMM's contemporary readers picking up The Blue Castle, expecting another fun and fluffy little story, and being somewhat turned off by the ⬇ 3d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) bleakness of Valancy's situation. That book takes a little bit to draw you in, I think. 3d
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The Grace of Wild Things | Heather Fawcett
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Reposting for @barbarajean
Hey Kindred Spirits! Just a reminder that we‘ll be reading The Grace of Wild Things for the #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead in October—and a little preview of the other titles on our list for future months. Please comment if you‘d like to join in for October, and I‘ll add you to the tag list! Our discussion will be Saturday, October 28th. All are welcome.

The Grace of Wild Things | Heather Fawcett
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Hey Kindred Spirits! Just a reminder that we‘ll be reading The Grace of Wild Things for the #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead in October—and a little preview of the other titles on our list for future months. Please comment if you‘d like to join in for October, and I‘ll add you to the tag list! Our discussion will be Saturday, October 28th. All are welcome.

TheAromaofBooks I'm in for October, but I'm glad you posted this, because I forgot that we kept this book for October when we rearranged the list!!! 6d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I actually stealthily rearranged the list again, a little bit (shhh). I pushed After Anne to January because I heard it was really sad and I didn't want that for December--ha!. Then I added Fragrance of Sweet-Grass in February since I was already extending the list into 2024. I bought it earlier in the year, not realizing I hadn't included it in our list! 😁 6d
julieclair I‘m in for October! 6d
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willaful I'm in for this! 6d
TheAromaofBooks Aren't you sneaky!! Okay, I updated my personal list 😂 After Anne is the only one I probably won't read... I just can't quite get into fictionalized accounts of real people haha I'm intrigued to read this month's book, though, and the Sweetgrass one also sounds really good!! I think it will also be fun to read some of LMM's letters after reading so much interpretation of what she says! 6d
lauraisntwilder Keep me on the list for October through January, please! I'll look into Sweet-Grass and decide closer to February. Thank you! 😊 5d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks @julieclair @willaful @lauraisntwilder I've made sure you're all on October's tag list! 5d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Haha... I hear you on fictionalized accounts of real people! Throughout Gift of Wings, I had to keep reminding myself that my view of LMM's relationship with Will Pritchard was largely based on the novel Maud. 😬 @lauraisntwilder Looking forward to having you on board through at least January if not February also! 5d
rubyslippersreads Please keep me on the list, although I‘ve been terrible about keeping up. Thanks. 😊 5d
BarbaraJean @rubyslippersreads Will do! Happy to keep you on in case you are able to join in. 😊 5d
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Magic for Marigold

I found this chapter far less frustrating than the previous few. The discussion of prevailing attitudes about childhood development and psychology was super interesting, and provided a perspective on the text that I hadn‘t considered but found valuable. I hadn‘t thought about how unique it was that LMM chose to begin the story when Marigold is 4 months old and conclude when she‘s ⤵️

BarbaraJean (Cont‘d) …the age when LMM usually begins her heroines‘ stories. The singular focus on child development does exclude a lot of what I loved about this book, though: the realistic and relatable portrayal of Marigold‘s emotions—what it FEELS like to be a child!—the beautiful descriptions of nature, and that tender, gorgeous scene of the night of Old Grandmother‘s death. 1w
TheAromaofBooks I found all the psychology stuff to be very interesting as well!! This was definitely a period of time where I think even the concept of “childhood development“ was new and changing. Have to say that I rolled my eyes when W. compared this book to “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man“ based on... them both starting with “Once upon a time“ ???? What even. 😂 Also, was Uncle Klondike “elderly“ when he married Dr. Marigold?? I just always felt ⬇ 6d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) like they were both middle-aged, but maybe I've just never paid attention?? This is another book of LMM's that I like but don't love, so I don't feel strongly about it. I did think that W. could have done more with the ending of this one, which I think is possibly the weakest out of all of LMM's books, with Marigold basically deciding she'll just sit around and wait for a boy's “spare time“ - it always felt like such an odd ending to me! 6d
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BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Hahahaha...I wrote a very similar comment in the margin about the James Joyce comparison! And re: Uncle Klondike--I can't find any specific age references just flipping through the book, but Waterston talks about the wedding of “elderly Miss Lavendar,“ and Miss Lavendar is in her 40s. 🙄 😠 I'd bet money that they're in their 40s or 50s at the most! I loved Magic for Marigold; this was my first time reading it & I thought it was ⬇ 6d
BarbaraJean (Cont'd) ...charming and sweet and funny. It doesn't have the depth of so many of LMM's novels, though--and the ending is crap. 😂 If Waterston was going to discuss female agency, women who define themselves in terms of the men in their lives, or giving up something for a man, I feel like the ending of Marigold would be a much better subject for that discussion than the ending of Emily! 6d
TheAromaofBooks I'm not sure why I've never loved Marigold as much, maybe because she IS a younger heroine? I always enjoy it when I read it, but I never yearn to revisit it the way I do so many of LMM's other books. But the ending always annoys me. I think it would have been such a stronger conclusion to have Marigold find a genuine female friend, instead - an exchanging of her imaginary friend for a real one would have made more sense to me! 6d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I wasn't expecting to like Marigold as much as I did; I'm not sure why it charmed me so much! Marigold's emotions and reactions were so relatable to what I remember feeling as a kid, and that scene with Old Grandmother before her death is just so beautiful. I agree wholeheartedly about the ending, though. It's awful. You're absolutely right that her finding a female friend would have made for a much stronger ending! 5d
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Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery | Elizabeth Hillman Waterston
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Magic Island: Emily‘s Quest

Eh. I just don‘t connect with Waterston‘s reading of Emily. Parts of this chapter feel off-base to me (notably the above assumption that Emily will set aside her writing career, which I don‘t see supported in the text), other parts discuss connections that aren‘t new and don‘t really add anything to the analysis (Jane Eyre and the “psychic call”). I did think the above quote ⤵️

BarbaraJean (Cont‘d) contrasting Dean and Teddy was both fitting and hilarious, though: “Teddy will be the opposite: he will never be truly involved in her concerns because he is so absorbed in himself.” 😂 But the thing about Emily replacing Teddy‘s mother?! I don‘t even know. I wish Waterston would do more with her material, honestly. 1w
TheAromaofBooks I actively dislike this book 😂 so it was hard for me to tell how well she was comparing things. But I agree, I didn't see any reason in the book that Emily would stop writing, and she again acts like Anne would have been this amazing author if she hadn't let “romance“ distract her. (I've actually been contemplating Anne more, and in some ways, I feel like her ambition/love was actually teaching? That's where she really seemed to come alive, and ⬇ 1w
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) raising her family would really have just been a different facet of that passion.) There was also the bizarre line claiming that having children/motherhood is “the ultimate obstacle in the path of a woman writer's ascent of the Alpine Path,“ an attitude with which I heartily disagree - I'm really quite tired of society telling women that children are this horrible burden that will weigh you down and prevent you from achieving your goals ⬇ 1w
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) How about telling women that they are strong, capable, and intelligent, and that they don't have to choose between motherhood and dreams? Montgomery didn't, actually, although I may have disagreed with some of her parenting choices, she was very successful while balancing so many different demands on her time. Anyway, got a little ranty there, but it just seemed like such a strange thing to say! 1w
rubyslippersreads I‘m struggling with the tiny type in this book, but I do want to catch up on at least the Emily chapters. (Although it sounds like I might just get mad.) (edited) 1w
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks 😂 I‘m trying hard to get something out of this book, but mostly it just makes me want to re-read the books so I can vindicate my opinions that Waterston is off-base! I‘m on board with the idea that Anne‘s vocation was teaching more than it was writing—then extends that into motherhood. The text really reflects that & it‘s a fitting tribute to Miss Stacy as the teacher who inspired Anne, as well as to LMM‘s teacher, Hattie Gordon. 1w
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I also was frustrated by W.‘s characterization of marriage and motherhood necessarily being considered obstacles that couldn‘t be overcome—LMM clearly climbed her Alpine Path as a wife and mother, so why is it necessary that Emily‘s career be cut off because she marries Teddy? Waterston projects circumstances onto the text that are not in the text nor are they present in LMM‘s life. Emily may have gone on to be a famous writer ⤵️ (edited) 1w
BarbaraJean (Cont‘d) whether she had children or not, or she may have given up writing in favor of having children—we aren‘t told either way. LMM‘s life as a writer AND a wife and mother seems a reason to discuss quite the opposite of motherhood as “the ultimate obstacle.” 1w
BarbaraJean @rubyslippersreads Join us in our ranting! 😂 I‘m overall disappointed with this book, honestly. I wanted more textual analysis, more examination of LMM‘s writing. The author‘s approach is different, interested primarily in drawing connections to LMM‘s life—which is fine, but so often a stretch or just odd in her speculations and conclusions. Your mileage may vary! Looking back, there are some good bits here and there but also lots of frustration. 1w
TheAromaofBooks I feel like Waterston is so obsessed with drawing parallels between LMM's life and her writing that she feels like she HAS to show how EVERY heroine LMM creates is actually “a side“ of LMM's personality. But I feel like it's possible for LMM to use stories and pieces of her life without each character being some kind of mirror into her soul or whatever. Like yes, she drew a lot from her hometown and childhood to write Anne, but I don't exactly ⬇ 6d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) feel like she IS Anne, or that Anne is some “secret“ side of LMM per se, which means I also don't feel like Anne “has“ to have dreams of being a writer.

As for Emily - I can't imagine her giving up her writing! She really is portrayed as having that be her main passion in life, and I genuinely think that if she had to choose between writing and Teddy, she would pick writing. I feel like that is one of the things she learned from her ⬇
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) relationship with Creepy Dean, that she literally can't live without writing - we're told/shown that multiple times throughout the series, that when Emily stops writing it literally makes her physically ill. To assume that she just drops the whole thing as soon as she gets married is more than a stretch to me - I feel like it ignores all of Emily's character development over the course of the trilogy! 6d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks While I generally don't approach fiction through a biographical lens, I don't think it's wrong-headed to draw parallels between LMM's life and writing. But it's exactly what you said: Waterston looks for “revelations“ about LMM everywhere. OF COURSE LMM drew from her life, but that doesn't mean everything is an exact correspondence between life and fiction. I've loved the little glimpses of LMM's life, like with Gog and Magog ⬇ 6d
BarbaraJean (Cont'd) and how some of the cats in the books have the same names as LMM's cats. But Waterston takes everything five steps further to say it all MEANS something, and it just doesn't! And it doesn't have to! And YES, your points about Emily and her writing are spot on. Not only does the ending of Emily's Quest NOT imply that Emily will give up her writing, the rest of the text supports the exact opposite: that she is incapable of giving it up. 6d
TheAromaofBooks I definitely think many of the thoughts/actions/dreams of LMM's heroines are drawn from her own life, especially Emily, but it seems silly to then turn that into the assumption that EVERYTHING has deep levels of meaning/every thought of every heroine is something LMM felt/though about her own life. It's like W's weird thing about all the names rhyming or having parts of other names in them, so that MUST be who they represent! It just seems like ⬇ 6d
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) a bit of a stretch sometimes 😂 I'm still not over Mary V-AN-ce being a “side of AN-ne/LMM“ 🙄 6d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Sometimes a pen is just a pen... 😂 5d
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