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Volume VIII Number 4 . . . . October 19, 2001
In this latest offering in the realm of literature that celebrates the adored creator of Anne of Green Gables, readers are taken on a journey through the places that Montgomery, herself, held dear. Like the many tours that operate on PEI, this book looks at the four Island locales that were especially significant to the Island-born author and her works. It begins in Cavendish at the house forever known as Green Gables, giving a room-by-room tour of the house and its outbuildings as well as a brief glimpse of the trails, Lovers' Lane and the Haunted Wood, that "Anne" so loved. Readers are then drawn into a look at the site of the old Montgomery homestead where LMM was raised, followed by the wee house in Clifton where she was born and lived for not quite two years. Finally, readers visit Park Corner, the "Silver Bush" of Montgomery's novels and home of the Lake of Shining Waters along with many of the childhood memories that Maud most treasured throughout her life. Deirdre Kessler then provides a brief look at LMM's life and achievements and informs readers of the current efforts in place to preserve the integrity of the land loved so deeply by Montgomery.
This book provides a very clear and well-organized overview of its subject. A book that focuses on LMM's favourite places is an appropriate addition to any fan's library given how intrinsic those places were to her writings. As a fan, myself, I enjoyed revisiting each of these near-sacred spots in the pages of Kessler's book. Unfortunately, the description of these sites often tends to be too detailed with continuous lists of each and every item to be found in each and every room. As someone who has visited these sites, I still found myself bogged down by these details, and I believe that someone who has never been there and/or who is trying to simply use this book as an information source will lose the bigger picture in these minutiae. However, while a book can never completely transport a reader to another time or place, this one certainly strives to create a complete picture for its readers of the lifestyle and landscapes that shaped LMM. It is successful both in creating an authentic image of Montgomery's era and in bringing readers to those places as they are today.
The photographs used in this book are lovely and well-chosen to complement the text. The combination of old and new photos perfectly suits the book and its purpose and are again most appropriate in light of Maud's own passion for photography. They also help the reader to cope with the overly-precise descriptions. Unfortunately, I was annoyed with the layout and design on several occasions where the division between photographs was unclear. For example, page 26 seems to suggest, at a glance, that Marilla's dresser was photographed floating at the top of her bedroom window. Also, there are several instances where the text of the book, itself, flows right into the explanatory text accompanying the photographs. These design issues could have, and should have, been better addressed. Improved editing is also in order since there are numerous significant spelling errors and/or missing words or letters.
Technical issues aside, this book can be proudly displayed in any collection of LMM material. It is a beautiful souvenir piece for anyone who has ever cherished a visit to these haunts or who has yearned to make such a pilgrimage. There is no new information in the book for serious scholars of LMM, but, with its breathtaking photos of PEI in all its splendour and all the snapshots of the little nooks and crannies that Maud loved, it is worth having. In that sense, I think the book is what it was meant to be, no more and no less.
Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, NS.
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