Wednesday, August 09, 2017

LM Montgomery's After Many Years

After Many Years: Twenty-One "Long Lost" Stories / L.M. Montgomery; selected & edited by Carolyn Strom Collins & Christy Woster. 
Halifax: Nimbus, c2017.
296 p.

This is a new collection of some of the multitude of short stories that L.M. Montgomery wrote for small papers and magazines over her career. 

As noted on the cover, there are 21 stories, and they are of mixed appeal. A few of them, written for Sunday School papers, strongly remind me of the moral-laden "Uncle Arthur" stories I read as a child. There is over-the-top melodrama in a few, and a touch of the uncanny in another. There are misunderstandings between friends and lovers, interfering older women, cats, cakes, needlework, and a lot of wry humour. Also heaps of descriptions of all the beautiful settings of farms, woods, shore, even cities. It's pure LMM.

If you are already a devout reader of everything LMM (as I admit to being) you will enjoy reading this even if the stories don't really stand up to the more polished work in her novels. But you can see many of themes that she worked with making their appearance here in other shapes. At the end of each story the editors note which paper it first appeared in, whether or not it's listed in the official bibliography and a few notes on what else Montgomery was working on or living through at the time of its publication. I found these notes a bit distracting and unnecessary and would have preferred to se them as notes in the back matter. I don't think general readers who aren't academics or completists would bother with the extraneous info, being more interested in the story itself. That said, I did find a real gem when the story notes for "The Pineapple Apron" shared that LMM published a doily pattern herself in a needlework magazine. I loved that! 

I especially liked the darkness of "The Mirror", the thrill of "The Use of Her Legs", and the humour of "The Matchmaker". The longest story, "Hill o' the Winds" was an entertaining look at young love at cross purposes, and the endurance of family feuds. 

Overall this was a fun collection and the proceeds go directly to the LM Montgomery Institute at the University of PEI so it's a win win to buy it and read it. If you like LMM or just generally vintage short stories you will enjoy this light read. 




2 comments:

  1. This sounds like a very lovely collection! Her writing is so beautiful--I'm sure I'd enjoy reading this a great deal.

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  2. Oh, I would've been salivating over this as a girl. When they first started to "discover" her short stories, I was just thrilled! (You probably felt the same way!) But, I didn't enjoy them as much as the longer works, although everything you've said is something I agree with; they are not dissatisfying and it's a lovely looking volume which I might end up adding to my shelves all the same. :)

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