*Fourth book knocked off the TBR!* YES
(No, I haven’t posted about my third book yet…but that will be coming your way soon!)
Okay, so a while ago I decided that I would sign up for Net Galley despite having a baby-blog and a smaller amount of followers compared to the hundreds of other blogs signed up for Net Galley. Like most beginners, I was denied requests and although the first one stung a little, I kept at it. (I knew that it was far too popular for a small blogger like me to get a chance at it!)
But only a few days after my first request got denied, I made a second request and I was APPROVED!
Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Melanie J. Fishbane
For the first time ever, a young adult novel about the teen years of L.M. Montgomery, the author who brought us ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.
Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery — Maud to her friends — has a dream: to go to college and become a writer, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Her grandfather has strong opinions about a woman’s place in the world, and they do not include spending good money on college. Luckily, she has a teacher to believe in her, and good friends to support her, including Nate, the Baptist minister’s stepson and the smartest boy in the class. If only he weren’t a Baptist; her Presbyterian grandparents would never approve. Then again, Maud isn’t sure she wants to settle down with a boy — her dreams of being a writer are much more important.
But life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future — and her happiness forever.
*I was provided an e-ARC through Net Galley and Penguin Random House Canada, thank you so much*
I have been extremely excited about this book ever since I first heard about it. A story based on the teenage years of the author who wrote the Canadian classic, Anne of Green Gables? YES GIVE IT TO ME NOW! Although, I’ve only read Anne once (I am going to re-read it soon, however!) it really touched my heart. It was funny, charming and I absolutely adore it. (Plus I have seen the show many. many times). So reading this story and finding the connections between the Maud’s life and Anne’s life was truly a treasure. However, this is a work of fiction so Maud’s life most likely did not unravel as it did in this book. Still I really enjoyed Maud’s character and the story of her life when she was fourteen.
*Confession*: I know only a little history behind L.M. Montgomery. My fourth grade teacher asked us all to pick an author to write about and since my sister was studying Anne at the time with her teacher, I used Montgomery for my project. So, all I really knew about Maud going in was that her parents died when she was 2 and she was then shipped off to live with her grandparents. That’s about all I remember.
Reading this book gave me a little more insight into what Maud’s life could have been like growing up a teen in the 1890s.
What I liked
Maud: How could I not like Maud? She was charming, caring and ever so studious. She loved hanging out with her friends and helping her grandparents despite their stern demeanour. I really enjoyed her perseverance against the challenges put in her path. She was trying to find somewhere she belonged in a community that only remembered the scandal of her parents. Her father and step-mother situation was probably the most hurtful experience she had to go through in terms of family issues. She faced backlash and denial as she tried to make a career for herself, something women in the 1800s were not typically found doing. Yet, Maud found her way to make her writing dream come true and I really appreciated that about her. She went through a lot of change over the course of the novel which I found relatable because who can really say they are the same person today as they were three years ago?
I feel hesitant to mention other characters for means of spoilers…but I really enjoyed the friendships she made with Laura and Mollie. This is a story of Maud’s life over the course of two to three years. So some people come and go while others stay. It was truly fascinating to see how her relationships with the characters played out.
The Setting: *I will gloat a little here.* FOR ONCE I HAD AN IDEA OF WHERE THE CHARACTERS WERE!
Listen people, a lot of the books I read are set in the US. And even though they say that the character travelled from point A to point B, I have no sense of location when they start bringing up American states and cities. But in this book I could actually picture my Canadian map and I knew where and how far she had to travel. Which was very far, by the way. Anyways, reading about the difference in Canadian landscapes was beautiful. You get to explore the peaceful shores of Prince Edward Island, the dusty and farm-like wild west of Saskatchewan. And the hustle and bustle of the cities in Ontario. I just found the change in setting and travelling very beautiful and exciting!
It didn’t shy away from the bad aspects of Canadian History: While there is not a lot of emphasis, there is a very important message about the treatment of First Nation and Indigenous peoples of Canada during the time period. It mentioned their horrible treatment by the first Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. McDonald (who makes a brief appearance in the novel, which I found rather interesting). It was not all thanks and giving, it was starvation, assimilation and encampment. There was a Métis character who was an actual person in Maud’s, life that was present in the story. Although she was not in the story for long, I think it was a good thing for the author to use her to represent the struggle of the First Nations in Canada.
It had Anne flair: I think my favourite part about this novel is how the author made the connections between Maud’s life and Anne’s life. At first I was expecting Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert or Gilbert to waltz into Maud’s life. Instead I found the people who inspired those characters. The setting that inspired Green Gables. The life of an orphan-like girl who discovered kindred spirits and the scope of imagination which inspired a certain red-head I know and love!
Romance: I am not going to mention a who, in case of spoilers but I will say that the romance was sweet and absolutely adorable. It made my heart squish in the good way. (It also broke a couple times) Maud may have not been to keen on finding a husband with her writing dream taking up her thoughts, yet she did have those fleeting romantic moments like most people her age.
What I Disliked
The Pacing Was Confusing: This is usually not a concerning thing if it is an action novel or mystery and you just want to know what is going on. When I consider the pace of this novel, I am talking about the actual time line in the writing. Things went a little to fast sometimes as in the characters would jump from one moment in time to another which was weeks away from the original. How do I put this? It is as if I am talking to you about a concert I am going to attend and in the next sentence, it is already the concert and I’m leaving the show. No page break or anything! I understand that this books spans almost three years, but sometimes the time jumps confused me.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I thought that it was fun, engrossing and a great look into the life of a female Canadian author. Even though this novel is very fictitious and many of the events and plot lines were made for the sake of the character developments I thought it was a fantastic portrayal of Maud’s life when she was young. Fishbane did a tremendous amount of research for her novel. I’m telling you pages of pages of reading material (all listed at the end of the book) which I think she deserves a round of applause for!
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars (I just found it incredible!)
Recommend?: Even if you’re not Canadian and you know nothing about our history, Anne or our geography 😉 I still recommend you to read the coming of age story of an author. I suggest you read Anne of Green Gables first, then read this to find all those Anne connections!
This novel could not be coming out at a better time. There is a new Anne of Green Gables TV series on Netflix and CBC (I watched the first episode and it looks great so far), there is always the old TV series you can watch (which I will always think its the best) and Canada is celebrating it’s 150th birthday come July, so why not celebrate all things Canadian!
This book comes out on Tuesday, April 25th! Be sure to catch it! I mean the cover is glorious and so is the story!