Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

I’ll admit I’m not usually the first to jump at prequels or sequels to classics written by people other than the classics’ authors. I think it’d be too easy to ride on the coattails of someone else’s good story idea and take it in a direction the original author never would have gone in.

For some reason, though, I could hardly resist the chance to check out an Anne of Green Gables prequel depicting the younger years of the woman who took in the iconic orphan Anne Shirley, Marilla Cuthbert. So I broke away from my normal hesitancy about such prequels and picked up Marilla of Green Gables by author Sarah McCoy.

Yet, as much as I hoped I’d love this book, I just couldn’t get into it, didn’t find the delivery engaging.

I’d also say Marilla here is somewhat idealized for a contemporary audience more than she reflects what would be an early version of the character L.M. Montgomery created.

When it comes to matters concerning race in particular: as heartwarming and idyllic as the Green Gables books are on the whole, the racist references/descriptions of people of color in some of Montgomery’s other, more mature works make it hard for me to find Marilla completely convincing here.

I think she, in this novel, is more what we would now long for a heroine to be, not what Marilla Cuthbert herself really would have been. So I decided not to finish this one.

Still, you never know if I may try another late prequel or sequel to a classic sometime, if curiosity compels me.

 

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Nothing means more to Pat than being at home with the people she loves. And nothing frightens Pat more than change. But growing up will mean that not everything can stay the same in Pat of Silver Bush, a novel by author L.M. Montgomery.

Some of the best reading of my life has come from this author, including classics like Anne of Green Gables and more of the Anne novels, but even more so than those, for me: Emily of New Moon and the following two novels about Emily Byrd Starr, three of my all-time favorite books.

But after I moved on to some of this author’s more “mature” work over the past few years and ran into stories with unequivocally racist undertones and overtones, I wasn’t sure if I’d seek out any more of her writing. In this case, I read this novel chiefly because I’m interested in reading the one after it, and I already own copies of both. I believe that after these two, I’ll simply keep the good L.M.M. books I’ve read, continue to appreciate them for what they are, and leave the rest of the would-be-new-to-me stories where they are, wherever they may be.

As for this novel, I think I might have enjoyed it more if I weren’t already so familiar with Emily, Anne, and the ways of their books. Pat’s story felt too similar but somehow not as interesting, and this fairly lengthy novel might’ve been half as long without all of Judy’s ramblings. (Yes, I enjoyed Sarah’s [were they Sarah’s?] ramblings in Rilla of Ingleside, but I guess it wasn’t something I needed to see done over again with a “too similar” character.)

Still, as I expected it would, this novel vividly paints the beauty of Prince Edward Island and the sparkle, pain, poignancy, and wonder of childhood and growing up. All things considered, I’m glad I read it.

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Yep. I read Pat’s first novel mainly so that I won’t be at all lost when I read her next, Mistress Pat.

 

Anne of Green Gables and The Sequel (1985, 1987)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1985, 1987) from Sullivan Entertainment
(The Sequel is also called Anne of Avonlea)
Rated G (Canada). Drama, Comedy, Romance, Family Films

Five Gold Stars

Description (from the first film’s case): Filmed amidst the spectacular scenery of Prince Edward Island, Canada, this award-winning movie follows the enchanting life of orphan Anne Shirley [Megan Follows], from her struggles as an adolescent to her triumphs as a young woman. A delicate epic full of wit, style, and emotional power.

My thoughts: Anne of Green Gables the film is so true to the spirit of the classic children’s novel by one of my all-time favorite authors. Follows is the quintessential Anne, and the whole cast, really, brings fitting and memorable voices and faces to Montgomery’s characters. Such a feel-good film and a wonderful trip to Prince Edward Island, and the sequel, though four hours long, doesn’t feel that long to me. Granted, the sequel takes more plot departures from the Anne novels than the first film does, but I think it’s still true to the spirit of Anne, of Gilbert, of Avonlea and Avonlea’s folk. Refreshing, amusing, touching, romantic, nostalgic.

Yup. I love both movies.

My corresponding reading: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery.

There is a third movie in the series, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story–not as true to the spirit of the Anne novels (and a plot nowhere to be found in the books) but a nice movie in and of itself.

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From the first movie, when Anne arrives at Green Gables for the first time.

 

The Adverb: A Necessary Modifier

how-to-hold-a-pen-hi

As I stated in an interview with Wendy Van Camp at No Wasted Ink, “I’m a poet and a lover of words… I understand the importance of concision, of not being redundant or wordy for the sake of wordiness, but we live in a media-driven culture of quick sound bites and 140-character limitations, where ‘idk,’ ‘smh,’ and ‘lol’ have become what we frequently fall back on to express ourselves in writing on a regular basis. I believe there should still be books where readers can delve into the magnificence, the depth and height and breadth, of language. Sometimes taking the scenic route and enjoying the ride in literature is a great way to paint a compelling, lasting picture for reading audiences and thinkers, something I find and appreciate in much of the classic literature I read—something I don’t want our society to lose. I don’t yet have the command of language I’d like to have one day, but I’m working on it.”

I can’t tell you how many articles, tweets, and blogs I’ve come across that have warned writers about using adverbs, since I’ve gotten involved with social media. (No, really–I can’t tell you how many, not because I’ve come across a literal million, but because I didn’t tally the articles, tweets, and blogs as I read them. I have indeed read several, though, rest assured.) The running sentiment has been that nouns and verbs are what tell a story and that adjectives and adverbs–especially adverbs–should be used as little as possible, since they tend to be fluffy and unnecessary.

Yet, ever since I got a clear picture of what adverbs are (by way of watching “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here” on Schoolhouse Rock! as a child), I’ve been convinced that adverbs must be an important part of reading, writing, and speaking, otherwise they wouldn’t have been invented. What’s more, how pedestrian would the English language become without the modifying grace and efficacy of adverbs?

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From books I’ve read, by writers I esteem: quotes that would lose their full meaning, and therefore their full power, without modifiers.

The Portrait of Lady“It had come gradually–it was not till the first year of their life together, so admirably intimate at first, had closed that she had taken the alarm. Then the shadows had begun to gather; it was as if Osmond deliberately, almost malignantly, had put the lights out one by one.” ~The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, published in book form in 1881.

Emma

“They would feel that they could trust him; that the nephew, who had done rightly by his father, would do rightly by them; for they know, as well as he does, as well as the world must know, that he ought to pay this visit to his father; and while meanly exerting their power to delay it, are in their hearts not thinking the better of him for submitting to their whims.” ~Emma by Jane Austen, published in 1815.

Emily's Quest“She knew that a hard struggle was before her; she knew that she must constantly offend Blair Water neighbours who would want her to write obituaries for them and who, if she used an unfamiliar word, would say contemptuously that she was ‘talking big’… she knew there would be days when she would feel despairingly that she could not write and that it was of no use to try… days when the echo of that ‘random word’ of the gods, for which she avidly listened, would only seem to taunt her with its suggestions of unattainable perfection and loveliness beyond the reach of mortal ear or pen.” ~Emily’s Quest by L.M. Montgomery, published in 1927.

The Great Divide

“Faces turned in unison toward the cemetery. Today was the first time Marcus had actually laid eyes on the place, and part of him understood perfectly why New Horizons had found it so offensive. The cemetery was not only large, it had a ramshackle air that defied orderly profit-driven thought.” ~The Great Divide by Davis Bunn, published in 2000.

The Small Rain“She smoothed the pages down very carefully, and when she came to one that still had little wet spots on it like rain, left there by Manya’s tears, she knew that the short verses with the title heavily underscored were what had made Manya cry. Softly she read to herself: Western wind, when wilt thou blow, The small rain down can rain?” ~The Small Rain by Madeleine L’Engle, published in 1945.

I’ve had this on my mind for a year or longer, so what prompted this post today? My agreement with recent points made by Robin Black: that adverbs aren’t “bad,” that they fulfill a need in the English language that would go wanting if adverbs didn’t exist. By no means should these modifiers be driven into the ground and be made ridiculous with excess, but they are as legitimate a part of speech as nouns, verbs, etc. and should be respected and utilized accordingly.

(“Accordingly”–to end my thoughts with an adverb!)