Friday, July 19, 2013

Kate Miller 32: Maud, Not Anne

A peek into L. M. Montgomery's life proved to be more fascinating and inspiring than Kate expected.

32. Maud, not Anne (May 2013) 

Silver Brook
            Kate stepped inside Silver Brook and instantly felt at home. The little entrance had a door to the gift shop to one side, and a doorway leading to rooms full of history and imagination. But there, by the entrance, was a desk with a middle-aged woman with a blonde bob, a large display of L. M. Montgomery’s entire set of works, and an enormous and beautiful old fashioned wood stove that Kate coveted briefly before she considered the hassle of smoke and cleaning.
            Pam (the blonde woman) was, in fact, the great granddaughter of L. M. Montgomery’s aunt and uncle who had owned Silver Brook. She still lived in part of the house and showed the rest to guests and visitors as they came. Kate had always imagined things about Anne’s author, but here was a bit of real history, with a story-telling family member to boot! Kate and Mister quickly learned to think of L. M. Montgomery as Maud, not Lucy. Lucy was the name of Maud’s grandmother, who she lived with for most of her growing up years, and Maud had no desire to follow in her footsteps. Maud, Pam assured them, always said that she was not like the Anne of her stories. “Anne was much more spunky,” Pam said, “though they certainly shared their love of nature.”
            Pam described Maud’s life and Kate was surprised by how “normal” it seemed for that time in history. She had lost her mother as a baby. Her father had left to find work and ended up remarrying (very normal situation back then.) She lived with her extremely strict grandparents, and struggled against a society that scoffed at the idea of a woman author and gossiped about her strange habits of wandering in the woods. She spent most summers at Silver Brook, and the aunt and uncle there were her only encouragement to keep writing.
Maud's room
Pam pointed to the displays of books and described some of the true elements of Maud’s stories, suddenly illuminating Kate’s understanding as she picked out truth from fiction. And far from cheapening the effect of the stories, Kate was even more delighted and entranced. How clever and fun and imaginative this young lady must have been as she haphazardly (it seemed) incorporated various places, events, people, and imaginings into her fictional stories, weaving them all together with dreams of girls and boys who seemed so real to her that they almost took on a life of their own! Suddenly Maud became a real person—not just the author of Anne.
Kate liked to write. In fact, she couldn’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t long to write stories, and she attributed part of that longing to a deep love of Anne of Green Gables, who had her own literary struggles. As a child, she had committed Anne’s same blunder of trying to write about things far beyond her knowledge or experience. Her parents had told her (as Mr. Harrison had told Anne) that she should write about things she knew…but, also like Anne, she had protested that such writings would be interesting to no one but herself. But in seeing the reality of Maud’s success—how she wrote about what she knew and loved and experienced—this renewed Kate’s desire to write, and inspired her to continue searching for those golden nuggets in her own life, worthy of capturing in story form.

Maud's quilt, which she finished after four years,
just as crazy quilts were going out of style...
Of all the “Anne’s Country” things that Kate got to see on Prince Edward Island, Silver Brook was her favorite. She and Kelsey and Mister wandered over the house and read the signs and newspaper clippings long after James had taken the children out to play on the swing set overlooking the “Lake of Shining Waters.” And still, after they came back down to the warmth of the wood stove, they chatted long with Pam, asking her questions and learning more about Maud’s life and the dynamic between her and her various relatives. And truly, Maud had a sad life, filled with loss and sorrow and depression. Kate was sorry for her, even while being inspired. Maud’s success spurred Kate on to her aspirations, and her trials reminded Kate that she had no desire to ever be famous. 

The enchanted bookcase 
one of the delightful, true elements of the story

No comments:

Post a Comment