The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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books: anne of green gables and sequels, reviewish
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
If anyone is curious, my reading is in direct proportion to internet access at work; they put in a nanny block, but that's not, I think, the problem, since I can get through just fine some days. It's annoying. But boy has it done wonders for my not-fanfic literacy. I'm currently running at an average one book a day since Julyish, though to be fair many of them are short and some I read in my teens and rediscovering.

For the record:

"Oh, well, it may be a superstition or it may not, doctor, dear. All that I know is, it has happened. My sister's husband's nephew's wife's cat sucked their baby's breath, and the poor innocent was all but gone when they found it. And superstition or not, if I find that yellow beast lurkin gnear our baby I will whack him with a poker, Mrs. Doctor, dear." -- Susan Baker to Anne and Gilbert Blythe, Anne's House of Dreams by LM Montgomery

...where did that cat breath thing come from?

Anne of Green Gables and sequels

Like Great Maria by Cecilia Holland--though no two books could ever be so different--I love the Anne series for the complete submersion in the lives of women, their work and daily routines, their relationships and their families, but above all about them. Anne as student, teacher, wife, mother, and friend doesn't live her life through any man or in relation to any man, but has an internal and external social life wholly her own and independent of her husband's work and life with her. It's also an extremely feminist book not necessarily in the attitudes but in the focus on not just the lives of women, but their ambitions, their friendships, their personal joys and tragedies.



I've always had a hard time defining a good feminist book, because feminism, like religion, is as much interpretation as personal opinion and the canon changes with the waves. This one I'd say is both feminist for it's time period, but also a good view of how women created their own lives and independence before they had the power of the vote or equality in the workplace. I love stories about women becoming doctors, lawyers, politicians, who were activists and had fantastic careers before civil rights, before suffrage, but I also love stories of ordinary women who could and did carve a place for themselves and lived full, honest, happy lives living within the purest principles of feminist thought; that every woman has the right to decide her own life and fate as an independent being who is owned by no one but herself.

Anne's both the bootstrapper and the beneficiary of both family and community; she fulfilled her ambitions while always understanding duty, but was always aware of and grateful for the help of her family and friends and their assistance that helped her achieve her goals. And all her goals were good ones; a student, a de facto daughter helping her mother and caring for children in the same position she once was in, going on to get a BA and becoming a principle of a school, marrying a man whose goals and aspirations she knew and whose character and disposition she could trust (as well as being madly in love with him), being a helpful, good neighbor, a good friend, an excellent wife and mother to a husband and children who loved and respected her for her intelligence and strength and sense of humor.

And like Great Maria, the daily lives of women are unfolded; even with Susan in the house, Anne's day to day work, not to mention her social work with the Church, like many of the women, her work in her home painting or whitewashing, caring for the farm as a girl and caring for a large house of a husband and six children as well as her involvement with social work through the church, illustrates that even women who didn't work outside the home worked, and especially in these books, are partners with their husbands and their contributions both necessary and appreciated.

But the thing that always strikes me most is how much the books focus on women as both primary, secondary, and tertiary characters, with fewer prominent male roles than most books with more modern-minded female protagonists (I'm looking at you, Mercedes Lackey). The most prominent males through the five books are all very, very secondary or tertiary characters and most have very little to do with the forward motion of the story, but almost every women met in the books has a story, a plotline, a life; Marilla Cuthbert, Ms Rachel Lynde, Jane Andrews, Diana Barry, Leslie Moore, Miss Cornelia, Phil Gordon, Stella, Priscilla, Katherine Brooke, Jen Pringle, Ruby Gillis, Rebecca Dew, Little Elizabeth, the widows at Windy Poplars, Susan Cooper, Aunt Jamesina, Miss Lavender, Josephine Barry, Janet Sweet; that doesn't even include the smaller portraits of women met and socialized with, their romances and their pasts and their futures, or continuing acquaintances such as Josie Pye.

In contrast, the male secondary characters who are given that same amount of attention include Gilbert, Matthew, Captain Jim, Paul Irving and Mr. Harrison, with most others relegated to high tertiary or random speaking parts only.

That doesn't mean to say there aren't flaws, including implicit and occasional more overt racism (prominent in anti-French and anti-foreigner, as well as some class issues that aren't necessarily explored well but surprisingly are acknowledged somewhat,and due to time period, misogyny. Other stories by the author have an extremely high racism, classism, and uncomfortable-levels of misogyny that the Anne books somewhat avoid (I do wonder about that, actually; reading some of her other work, the contrast is painful, especially the classism and racism with First Nations, Christ). I'm really not familiar with the racism--is that the right word?--involving the French in Canada to make any kind of statement on it other than I can really tell it's there; as a kid, I early on read it more classist, but as I got older the focus on the French became a lot more noticeable.

I don't think the author meant to create a social commentary out of this, but inadvertently, I think she did a good job with some less savory aspects of society at the time, observing and condemning without whitewashing (mostly), including child abuse, spousal abuse, rape, abandonment, and the practical enslavement of orphaned or impoverished children. It's also surprisingly both subtle and overt; as I was telling [personal profile] cofax7 in comments earlier, LM did a fascinating job in implications that become obvious only when the reader has the life experience and understanding to know what they were reading. More importantly, it made for books that, for me, stand the test of time and age. I can go back and see so much more of the canvas now that I know what I'm looking at.



Specific Spoilers for Anne's House of Dreams, Leslie Moore:



Leslie's marriage was hideous, and only in my late teens and early twenties did I catch on how hideous. As a kid, a forced marriage to a guy who drank too much that I didn't like to save my mom's house was nightmare enough (with maybe the implication he hit her, but I was twelve and shuddered away from that like whoa). My late teens I picked up the implicit admission of spousal abuse; it was my twenties before I connected it all together to an earlier comment by a character that Leslie also confirms, a story about Dick and 'a shore girl' and realize spousal rape was also a part of the equation. For a kid, the horror of a marriage to someone you didn't know and like and who was mean and drank was bad enough; the rest came with time and understanding, and I think it worked very well.



The exception to the eight book series and children below. Ouch.

Specific Spoilers for Rainbow Valley, the Meredith children:



This is the only book that feels off and not-right compared to the rest; the story of the Meredith children. I hated their father for his utter neglect, and considering up until that book that child neglect and father/husband abandonment was treated fairly severely, it blew me away how badly off the children were purely due to parental neglect. They had a home, and their father had a decent income as a minister, but they were starved, underdressed, and just--no. Even when brought to the father's attention, his contrition was mixed with his supposed inability to fix it, which seriously, it's hard to get the kids decent food? Or make sure Faith had some goddamn stockings? That the congregation responded instantly when it was brought to their attention while their father never did I couldn't forgive.



I wish the movies had been more faithful; I still get cold horrors just knowing the fourth movie exists, and the third one was not exactly, what's the word, "faithful". OTOH, the first three had Megan Follows and she's so Anne to me I can't get over it. I'd love to see a new interpretation of the books--this time a faithful one, dear God, or even a passing acquaintance with someone who, say, read them--but I'm not sure I can ever see anyone but Megan as Anne.

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I've read all her books so often they're imprinted in my memory and I dragged my husband to Canada and PEI on my honeymoon, the impression they made on me was so strong.

But for me, Anne was Kim Braden. I loved that BBC serialisation so much.

I want to go to PEI sooooo much! I envy you ridiculously.

It was beautiful but even in 1994 the commercialization of Anne was too much for me. She's everywhere; a freckled, pigtailed Anne beaming off signs, all over shop fronts and walls... LMM would be horrified.

I loved the quiet moments, but it wasn't quite the PEI I'd yearned for. Still, as Anne would say about sleeping in the spare room, it was a lifetime ambition realized. Maybe now we live in Canada we'll go there again, with me expecting less and accepting it for what it is.

But God, did she ever make it sound like a slice of heaven! Gorgeously purple writing. I think these days I identify more with Emily -- but I grew up with Anne.


I was/am in a comm of people reading/rereading the Anne books (along with a few other books by LMM) so a lot of what you've observed rings really true. As an adult, it's easier to see how important female relationships and female characters are in the stories, and it's easier (unfortunately) to see the racism/class-ism and xenophobia in the stories as well. (Is Franco-phobia the right word to use for the racism towards the French in the stories?)

And you're dead on--as an adult, Leslie Moore's story is TERRIFYING. And it makes her character all the more fascinating, and her struggle over what to do about the operation all the more poignant. (As well as filling me with some frustration over the fact that had it really been Dick, instead of George, Leslie would have been forced by convention/the law to stay in that kind of marriage.) Some people would read Leslie as a Mary Sue--a term I'm quickly learning to hate--but I don't think she comes even close to the traditional definition of a Sue--her tragedies are a part of her character, informs it and shapes it and her decisions in a way that feels really well-rounded and thoughtful.

And can I just say--I am so glad somebody is as bothered by Rainbow Valley as I am. Rereading that with the eyes of an adult--Mr Meredith is really just the worst. I understand about differing time periods and such, but the way he refuses to even attempt to atone for his failings (until he gets married and has someone to finally pick up the considerable slack) is what gets me the most. It's too much of a stretch for me to believe/condone, particularly since it's clear that if Gilbert Blythe were in the same situation--if Anne had died young and left him with all those children to raise alone, there's no way he wouldn't have done a better job than Mr. Meredith. A perfect job, no, and yes, he would have had Susan's help--but even then, you cannot see him neglecting to make sure his kids weren't decently dressed and fed.

As an adult, it's easier to see how important female relationships and female characters are in the stories, and it's easier (unfortunately) to see the racism/class-ism and xenophobia in the stories as well. (Is Franco-phobia the right word to use for the racism towards the French in the stories?)

Francophobia! Thank you! I couldn't quite figure out the terminology with white-on-white in that time period since, from what I understand, the French bigotry is also a unique part of Canada (I'm working off several movies and some fast and dirty googling, so the specifics are still way beyond me). The xenophobia is a lot like the misogyny in the background; while it's not rare now, back then it seemed to be even more ingrained and taken for granted.

The classism bothered me less, not because it's better or more acceptable, but depressingly, it's so normal even now that it takes me a second to really register it. And so much of it is bound up in the xenophobia and racism and some of it in the job or education or being parentless or without a father, which makes Anne and later Mary Vance (oh, and Rilla's Jims!) interesting cases in social elevation by exposure.

Anne--as I remember--didn't have the hideously overt First Nation racism (thank God) that showed up in the short stories or the truly horrific bit on Africa (I remember someone saying that story had been edited later? And they posted or linked to a restored version that was--no.) At least not in my current re-reading (up to Anne's House of Dreams).

And you're dead on--as an adult, Leslie Moore's story is TERRIFYING. And it makes her character all the more fascinating, and her struggle over what to do about the operation all the more poignant.

Holy God, yes. When I was a kid, I was dead set against Dick's restoration with a far less understanding of Leslie's life; now I get the horror, but weirdly, I understand much better both Gilbert and Leslie's decisions and agree with their choices (personally; I am pretty sure if it were my bff, I'd be Anne arguing against it).

(As well as filling me with some frustration over the fact that had it really been Dick, instead of George, Leslie would have been forced by convention/the law to stay in that kind of marriage.)

I do wonder what would have happened there, actually. While divorce wasn't necessarily sanctioned, teh books have several cases of husbands and wives separating, sometimes for years, without any real social--stigma? At least as far as the books went.

Some people would read Leslie as a Mary Sue--a term I'm quickly learning to hate--but I don't think she comes even close to the traditional definition of a Sue--her tragedies are a part of her character, informs it and shapes it and her decisions in a way that feels really well-rounded and thoughtful.

God yes, so much this. And her tragedies weren't--I don't want to say uncommon, but they certainly weren't unique especially then. People would lose entire families to epidemics; each of hers flowed pretty naturally from the way life works. I agree with you completely.


And can I just say--I am so glad somebody is as bothered by Rainbow Valley as I am. Rereading that with the eyes of an adult--Mr Meredith is really just the worst.


In my DW entry, laurajv mentioned the possibility of Reverend Meredith having some kind of mental illness or neurlogical disorder. That actually does make sense to me, and on my next read, I want to see how people code worded him socially. While there wasn't modern psychology, per se, mental illness was known about and commented on--melancholia aka depression for one--so it makes me want to check and see if how they referred to him was also an acknowledgement of mental illness.

if Anne had died young and left him with all those children to raise alone, there's no way he wouldn't have done a better job than Mr. Meredith. A perfect job, no, and yes, he would have had Susan's help--but even then, you cannot see him neglecting to make sure his kids weren't decently dressed and fed.

Hell and yes. He also had an unbreakable sense of duty I appreciate so much more as a grown-up, and had a very clear, very strong moral center--I don't know another way to phrase that, but no matter how he felt, he wouldn't let that interfere with what he knew had to be done.

I also got the feeling that Gilbert's priorities and personal inclinations were his family and then his employment, whereas Reverend Meredith lived his job and family was--not really on the radar unless reminded? And while some people are like that, and that's their personality, he didn't seem to have a strong internal sense of duty to make him overcome those inclinations for the sake of his family that desperately needed him.

I just--that's what makes me angriest. He just never even seemed to try.

I hope that made sense. *g* Love your comment so much!

which makes Anne and later Mary Vance (oh, and Rilla's Jims!) interesting cases in social elevation by exposure.

I've been meaning to ask, have you ever read the Emily of New Moon books by LMM? Because they're...REALLY interesting to read as an adult, and they have a character that perfectly describes what you're talking about: Perry Miller, who was a hired boy at the start of the series, and ends up becoming a successful lawyer, and later, a successful politician.

I haven't read that short story on Africa you mentioned--and frankly, I don't really want to--but one of LMM's later novels, a Tangled Web, kind of breaks my heart because it's a really good book, until the last page, literally the last sentence ends on an appalling racist "joke" that involves the n-word.

now I get the horror, but weirdly, I understand much better both Gilbert and Leslie's decisions and agree with their choices (personally; I am pretty sure if it were my bff, I'd be Anne arguing against it)

As a kid, I was completely on Anne's side re: the argument, as an adult, you're right, it's much easier to see Leslie and Gilbert's point of view, but instinctively I still gravitate towards Anne's position.

I'm not sure if Leslie would have been socially pressured to stay with Dick, but financially it would have been difficult to leave, not to mention how Anne said her sense of duty was too strong to let her walk out on a marriage.

laurajv mentioned the possibility of Reverend Meredith having some kind of mental illness or neurlogical disorder. That actually does make sense to me, and on my next read, I want to see how people code worded him socially.

It's REALLY interesting that you mention this, because I'm pretty sure the character of Mr. Meredith was based on LMM's real-life husband, who was also a reverend and, apparently, suffered from "religious melancholia" during WWII. I also read, in a forward to The Blythes are Quoted, that LMM's writing made her financially responsible for her family, and, according to her granddaughter, LMM actually committed suicide, having suffered from depression herself for years. Really very sad to think about.

But with Mr. Meredith as a character--man. I feel like it would have been more palatable if we'd seen him actually struggling to be a good father, but he never did seem to try--at most, he'd beat himself up for an hour or two, and then go right back to ignoring his kids. That episode where his daughter faints in church from hunger--that's the biggest sticking point for me, that something so extreme could happen and he still wouldn't try. I wish there could have been more of a happy medium--with the Meredith kids getting into scrapes because they don't know better, but without the constant neglect.

And thank you! I really love discussing these books--I even did a huge rambling post in my LJ about the Emily series.

I haven't read that short story on Africa you mentioned--and frankly, I don't really want to--but one of LMM's later novels, a Tangled Web, kind of breaks my heart because it's a really good book, until the last page, literally the last sentence ends on an appalling racist "joke" that involves the n-word.

Oooh, I only glanced at that bit at the time, but that might have been the part that was expunged and then restored. Years ago, someone linked to and then pasted the offensive part. I--I was going to say go read it and see if it's familiar, but eww. I don't think I've read that one; the last I remember was Pat of Silver Bush before my latest hit of re-reading.

The one that was the hardest to deal with for me was Tannis of the Flats in Further Chronicles of Avonlea. LM can't help but write strong, extremely competent women, but Christ, the First Nations racism (and a breath of Francophobia by implication) makes me hate even looking at it. I keep just hoping I read it wrong and it was really supposed to be an indictment of racism and a bit of British classism through a racist woman's retelling, but--somehow, the competence and strength of Tannis makes it so much more painful.

I've been meaning to ask, have you ever read the Emily of New Moon books by LMM? Because they're...REALLY interesting to read as an adult, and they have a character that perfectly describes what you're talking about: Perry Miller, who was a hired boy at the start of the series, and ends up becoming a successful lawyer, and later, a successful politician.


Yes! I loved Emily hugely when I was a teen; it was just the perfect amount of romantic melodrama and reality, though I've begun to wonder about LM's thing for abused children. It was ultrafocused, as I remember; she really kept with those four kids growing up rather than spread out the cast more. I need to check her chronology sometime and see how she developed.

It's REALLY interesting that you mention this, because I'm pretty sure the character of Mr. Meredith was based on LMM's real-life husband, who was also a reverend and, apparently, suffered from "religious melancholia" during WWII.

She actually wrote about at least one character (off screen) with religious melancholia in Anne's House of Dreams. Thinking about it, she didn't shy away from depression or different either, though the nineteenth century coding makes me think I'm not yet catching all of what she meant to say.

I also read, in a forward to The Blythes are Quoted, that LMM's writing made her financially responsible for her family, and, according to her granddaughter, LMM actually committed suicide, having suffered from depression herself for years. Really very sad to think about.

I had no idea. That's--damn. I wish she could have known how many girls and women she inspired and changed with her work.

But with Mr. Meredith as a character--man. I feel like it would have been more palatable if we'd seen him actually struggling to be a good father, but he never did seem to try--at most, he'd beat himself up for an hour or two, and then go right back to ignoring his kids.

Carl's double pneumonia from the club they made to 'bring themselves up' since they didn't have anyone to do it, the attempted adoption of Una (I mean, I wouldn't have adopted her out to that woman either, but I can't blame anyone for wondering if he'd even notice his kids, much less care about losing one to what is, in worldly terms, a better life. And all the stupid, tiny things, like not having good coats for winter, much less pretty ones, and dresses that didn't fit and being cold while sitting in the tree chewing gum with the Blythe kids and Mary Vance--argh, I connected with the embarrassment sooo much. And Faith's rooster....

I don't think I've written so many double comments in my life. *blank*

That episode where his daughter faints in church from hunger--that's the biggest sticking point for me, that something so extreme could happen and he still wouldn't try. I wish there could have been more of a happy medium--with the Meredith kids getting into scrapes because they don't know better, but without the constant neglect.

*winces* Oh poor Una. I forgot about that bit of insanity. And all he does is go and cry about not having Rosemary? Argh. The only reason I wanted them to marry was because a.) well, she wanted it and I liked her for being so sweet but also so damn sharp and b.) she got along so well with the kids and they'd do so much good for each other and like each other.

And Faith would have some stockings that weren't striped. Holy God, I'm cringing just remembering that.

It is--a little--comforting to hope that there was a workable reason he was such a terrible parent and he just wasn't able to do it without the help of a partner.

And thank you! I really love discussing these books--I even did a huge rambling post in my LJ about the Emily series.

Recently? Or can you link me if it's older? I want to read it!

I almost never say this, but I think I'd take the expunged version of a Tangled Web over the original, unedited version. I remember reading that book as a kid and being delighted, and then I got to the last page and was like, "Oh. I forgot that people who looked like me were called that back then."

But yes, Emily! I loved those books as a teenager, as an adult--I don't want to say the shine comes off, but there are problematic things within the books you notice much more as an adult. (Example: Dean Priest. Good God, I had issues with that as a kid, but as an adult? Hoo boy.) My post on rereading the books is here, although I want to warn you in advance, it's not all squee. I love those books, don't get me wrong, but there's a lot that surprised/didn't work for me as an adult, that I didn't mind as a kid, if that makes sense.

though the nineteenth century coding makes me think I'm not yet catching all of what she meant to say.

*nods* I definitely know how that goes. I have to say, the discussion about the "shore girl" is illuminating--as an adult, I realized that spousal abuse/rape was definitely likely during Leslie's marriage, but the coding around the story of Dick and the shore girl never pinged any alarms in my head until all of you mentioned it here.

I wish she could have known how many girls and women she inspired and changed with her work.

Same here, honestly. The forwards in some of the books had me suspecting that Montgomery did not live the happiest life, but it's still so sad to hear that.

The thing about Mr. Meredith that perhaps ticks me off the most is that, had he made the effort, he could have spared his children so much heartache. I mean, those kids adored him to pieces, and were so clearly delighted at any affection/attention they got from him--oof. And poor Una broke my heart so many times in that book, because you really get the sense that she feels the consequences of their father's neglect in ways her siblings don't.

But yeah, like you, I'd like to hope there's a workable reason why he failed so hard at parenting. I also like to think about how much the kids would have adored Rosemary, and she them.

It's been so long since I read House of Dreams I barely remember Leslie's story. I'll have to go back and re-read it again. (What a hardship!)

Unfortunately the anti-French sentiment is pretty accurate for Canada of the period, and in a lot of ways is true of Canada today, politically and culturally.

Thank you. Some movies involving French Canadians and some googling gave me a very uncertain outline, but it took a bit to separate it out from the general xenophobia.

This might help explain some of the french and first nations hate in the books.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Expulsion

Thank you! My googling came up with some very--varied material, to say the least.

My car with all it's bright red gorgeousness is called Cordelia :)

I have never watched any of the adaptations because I've watched trailers and none of them are Anne enough compared the paragon of Anne-ness I have in my head.

I first read it when I was in Year 5 I think? And I fell in love with how headstrong and brave and comfortable in her skin she was and how she wasn't written as so very pretty, that she had issues with how she looked that she grew out of, that she had a bosom friend, that she spent so much time off with the fairies and just- SO MUCH MORE.

I have reread it so many many times since then that yeah, I could recite so much of it. They're my comfort books. It's pretty amazing for something written at that time. It's one of the first books I remember reading where it made it seem- ok? to be a mum and a housewife and that this is just as amazing and 'acceptable' and it's not all go out and save the world all the time to make your mark? Not sure if this is conveying what it's meant to.

But yes, so good in terms of the massive variety of female characters that are all fleshed out so well.

Leslie's story freaked the hell out of me the first time I read it - I assumed domestic violence was involved but it was only a few years ago that I picked up on the rape as well :S :S :S

I love that my brother loves the series as much as I do :)

Jumping in just to say woooord

And I fell in love with how headstrong and brave and comfortable in her skin she was and how she wasn't written as so very pretty,

THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

It was (and still is, to be honest) a great comfort to me that there exists a heroine who isn't beautiful the way other beautiful characters in the Anne series were written, but who is striking and who has so much personality/charisma that she doesn't need to be beautiful. I wanted her starry grey eyes and her lovely nose and her sheer charisma and the fact that she could just light up a room and make people happy just by being herself.

And I also liked how stubborn she was. The "carrots" thing was silly - but petty insults I think are the ones that stay with you for all time, and hating on somebody for years afterwards and then waking up and realizing that no, you don't *really* hate them, it's just a habit - that rang true for me.

I kinda wish that she'd kept on with her literary aspirations - that would've capped things off for me! I was a little sad that she felt she didn't have the talent to write, say, Captain Jim's Lifebook, and that her little sketches were just fanciful nothings (but given the time it makes sense that children's sketches wouldn't be highly regarded).

It's pretty cool that your brother likes it! I have a friend in the army who said he read the first few pages of Anne of Green Gables whilst his mate was off doing something and got bored, and now he can't look at his friend *quite* the same way. (His workmate was all, "I'm in the army. I don't want to read more about the army." Which made sense to both of us XD)

Re: My car with all it's bright red gorgeousness is called Cordelia :)

I have reread it so many many times since then that yeah, I could recite so much of it. They're my comfort books. It's pretty amazing for something written at that time. It's one of the first books I remember reading where it made it seem- ok? to be a mum and a housewife and that this is just as amazing and 'acceptable' and it's not all go out and save the world all the time to make your mark? Not sure if this is conveying what it's meant to.

Yes, this. And--for me, anyway--it was because it was both something she wanted and wanted to do out of range of options and possibilities open to her. And the books developed her life as a woman as well as wife, so it was about Anne, who was an adopted daughter and wife and mother and a partner and friend with a rich life and work she found rewarding and fulfilling (and seriously, the more I think about being a housewife then? That was serious work, especially with her work on the farm at Green Gables and all the other women who show up whitewashing barns and raising a dozen kids and spend their free time making quilts for missions or knitting socks or making dresses for the less fortunate or canning and jarring and picking fruit for winter from an orchard....)

Now I'm just tired thinking about it.

But yes, so good in terms of the massive variety of female characters that are all fleshed out so well.

I woke up remembering some of the ones I missed too! Miss Tomgallon (sp?) with the huge house and a family seeped in tragedy and she pointed out where each one died and how in the house....

Leslie's story freaked the hell out of me the first time I read it - I assumed domestic violence was involved but it was only a few years ago that I picked up on the rape as well :S :S :S

*shivers* LM did some good work with the subtlety that just gets more over the older you get and more you read.

I love that my brother loves the series as much as I do :)

*GLEE* That's fantastic!

Re: Rainbow Valley

I would've liked John Meredith more, except that I did find him to be quite tiresome. The Good Conduct Club was just ... ouch; watching those kids struggle to do the right thing, all to protect their father's reputation. I agree with mardia that Gilbert Blythe is a far superior father. There were these little hints here and there that I felt showed Gilbert was involved with the upbringing with his children - I think the one incident that really comes to mind is when Gilbert and Anne forbid Jem from going to watch somebody get tattooed? And pretty much the way he talked to Rilla when Rilla brought home a war-baby. (I <3 Rilla.)

I wish I could like John Meredith *more*. It seems to me he was a lovely person. But yeah. The neglect and the lack of decisiveness on his part was really awful.

Re: Leslie Moore

Man, when I read that section about the 'shore girl', I just had this moment of "... is L.M.M. implying what I THINK she's implying? Oh my god." Somehow, I didn't connect the dots that he probably raped Leslie as well, which in hindsight was really moronic of me. Just reading about how Leslie was essentially forced into marriage with him was horrifying enough. And as much as her friends would've sympathized with her, I kinda worry what would've happened if Dick had stayed behind, duty being such a big deal, and what not.

I felt sorry for Leslie and Gilbert to varying levels; Leslie, because, what an awful quandry she must've been in. And no matter how morally reprehensible a character Dick was, I still sympathized with Gilbert's decision to tell Leslie about the operation (but under the circumstances/era, if I'd been Anne, I think I too would've just told him to keep quiet). Luckily the ending was a happy one for Leslie. But I liked how the various situations weren't portrayed as being *easy* decisions to make.

Other stories by the author have an extremely high racism, classism, and uncomfortable-levels of misogyny that the Anne books somewhat avoid (I do wonder about that, actually; reading some of her other work, the contrast is painful, especially the classism and racism with First Nations, Christ).

Which books in particular? I've only read the Anne series and The Blue Castle, but I want to start reading her other books as well. I wondered if *when* Montgomery wrote the Anne series had anything to do with this series being less offensive, but wiki tells me she wrote it over 30 years. (SPEAKING OF. Do you know there's a 9th novel called "The Blythes are Quoted"?)

Do you know there's a 9th novel called "The Blythes are Quoted"?

Huh, I have never heard of this one. It's not on Amazon, I don't think...

As for the other series, I really enjoyed Emily of New Moon, although she suffers a lot more than Anne, and there is some Deep Stupidity in it that I can't get past, as well as some real skeevy behavior by one of the men. But the first two books are kind of lovely, as Emily goes to school and has adventures and develops her writing talent in a far more ambitious way than Anne ever did.

The one story that pops into my head as being very, very overtly racist was part of a collection of short stories that she wrote, which involved First Nations peoples. The depiction of the characters of color was really shocking to me after the way she had implicitly treated other issues as mentioned by Seperis.

I didn't know! *glee*

I can't remember the books so much but Further Chronicles of Avonlea, the last story Tannis of the Flats.

(I didn't do that by memory; I downloaded a lot of her work this week and just checked.)

It has--and this does not help--a hint of the 'noble savage' regarding Tannis as well as overt authorial racism, and I mean, really overt. What kills me is the tone of the story; if she'd written it as an indictment of racism and (to an extent, classism, since class is pretty prevalent in this one as well) by highlighting Tannis' experience with the guy she was flirting with, it would have honestly been amazing; Tannis actions were among the best of LM's heroines. But the contempt just killed me.

Oh, I meant to answer more of this! Gah!

There were these little hints here and there that I felt showed Gilbert was involved with the upbringing with his children - I think the one incident that really comes to mind is when Gilbert and Anne forbid Jem from going to watch somebody get tattooed? And pretty much the way he talked to Rilla when Rilla brought home a war-baby. (I <3 Rilla.)

Definitely. He never came across as a distant father or husband, but one that understood and balanced his priorities well. And ooh, I adored his little talk with Rilla about Jims! That was hilarious and pretty much everything awesome about him. And Anne telling Aunt Mary Maria that she and Gilbert had wanted their children to have the gift of fairyland and imagination as long as possible.

The only thing I hold against him is Aunt Mary Maria, but honestly, I have met people (and have relatives!) like that, and I'm not sure I would have dealt any better (though I suspect he might have reacted if he'd known the extent of her nastiness to Anne; I get why Anne didn't tell him, but seriously, eww).

Man, when I read that section about the 'shore girl', I just had this moment of "... is L.M.M. implying what I THINK she's implying? Oh my god." Somehow, I didn't connect the dots that he probably raped Leslie as well, which in hindsight was really moronic of me.

I don't think Leslie was the shore girl, since both Cornelia (or Captain Jim?) and Leslie mention it without personalizing it, but I'm pretty sure marital rape was very much a part of it. Leslie was never in love with him and never blamed herself for the abuse and grew to hate him for it, so I don't see her willing to go to bed with him if she could help it.

I was well into my late teens and early twenties before it really, really hit me with the shore girl reference how Dick might prefer sex to happen and completely freaked out. It was bad enough thinking of unwilling submissoin that he just ignored, but if he liked that....God no.

I felt sorry for Leslie and Gilbert to varying levels; Leslie, because, what an awful quandry she must've been in. And no matter how morally reprehensible a character Dick was, I still sympathized with Gilbert's decision to tell Leslie about the operation (but under the circumstances/era, if I'd been Anne, I think I too would've just told him to keep quiet). Luckily the ending was a happy one for Leslie. But I liked how the various situations weren't portrayed as being *easy* decisions to make.

Exactly. If it were me, I would have decided to tell like Gilbert did and decided to go ahead and do it like Leslie did, but I am totally Anne if it was a friend about to face that.

Just reading about how Leslie was essentially forced into marriage with him was horrifying enough. And as much as her friends would've sympathized with her, I kinda worry what would've happened if Dick had stayed behind, duty being such a big deal, and what not.


Re: the depictions of mental illness-- in Mistress Pat (sequel to Pat of Silver Bush), Pat's neighbor/suitor is depicted as having "shell shock" from the Great War (aka PTSD). That's one of the more explicit cases of mental illness being depicted by a main character that I can think of.

When I was in high school, I discovered the great joy that was the quite extensive collection of LMM novels and short story anthologies owned by my county library system, and went through every single one. Twice. To this day, I have a few that are near and dear to my heart-- Anne 1-3, House of Dreams, and Rilla; several of the thematic anthologies; Mistress Pat. I really love her and Jean Webster for their depiction of joyful, independent women--nurses, social workers, singers, teachers, mothers, daughters--who may not have felt the need to march for suffrage (they were too busy conquering their own parts of the world!), but definitely walked the walk of feminism in their time.

Re: the depictions of mental illness-- in Mistress Pat (sequel to Pat of Silver Bush), Pat's neighbor/suitor is depicted as having "shell shock" from the Great War (aka PTSD). That's one of the more explicit cases of mental illness being depicted by a main character that I can think of.

Dick Moore maybe? Though I think you're right; his wasn't organic mental illness but brain injury. They did have a lot of sideways discussions of people who acted 'queer' or 'odd' via anecdote; the guy who thought the devil was always by him, and oh my God, that guy and his ceaseless mourning for his dog! Where he refused to go to Church when they wouldn't bury the dog in the cemetary and took his family to pray by the dog's grave every Sunday.

Mistress Pat. I really love her and Jean Webster for their depiction of joyful, independent women--nurses, social workers, singers, teachers, mothers, daughters--who may not have felt the need to march for suffrage (they were too busy conquering their own parts of the world!), but definitely walked the walk of feminism in their time.

So much much much this. They definitely walked the walk, especially in the times they lived in.


Also may I point out-- much of LMM's works are available for free thanks to Project Gutenberg on Kindle/iBook/etc.

Grabbed it from Gutenberg US and Australia. Gutenberg AU was the only place I could find Windy Poplars or Ingleside the other day.

They are on my kindle. *glee*

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