My introduction to the work of Lucy Maud Montgomery was through the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea films starring Megan Follows. I wish I could remember my exact age when I first saw them (probably 6-8), because they made such a strong impression on me. 16+ years later, and numerous revisits, they are still my favorite movies ever. Period.
A few years after seeing the films, I started the "Anne" series. My mom and I read the 1st book together, and I went on from there. I have now read and re-read (and own most of) almost everything L.M. Montgomery wrote, with the exception of a couple of short story collections. Her work is "comfort food" to my literary soul.
I identified with the character of Anne Shirley from the beginning. I was a "romantic," running off into the woods to escape the petty problems of life, imagining myself in fairyland, or being swept off my feet by a knight of King Arthur's round table. (He didn't have to wear "shining" armor, or ride a "white" horse, as long as he could kick some serious butt, was kind and sensitive, and at least moderately good-looking. ;) My sisters and friends and I dragged a canoe out onto more than one pond to play "The Lady of Shallott." They let me be the fair Elaine, which was lucky, because otherwise I think I would have died of bitter disappointment.
I had a temper. I was stubborn. I was a snob. (And I am not quite recovered.) I don't think I smashed a slate over any stranger's head, but my love for Anne provoked me to accept dares, attempt to out-spell the boys, and stand by my stupid opinions as if my life depended on it.
I was ambitious. I wanted fame, fortune, and success. (Still do, in a slightly less crazed measure. These things die hard.) I loved to talk. I still do. Voicing my thoughts lends clarity to my mind. I talk to myself all the time, especially in the car. It's incredibly embarrassing when I forget that my younger sister is in the backseat.
Lucy Maud Montgomery is magic with words. She paints pictures with them, captures the tiniest, most beautiful of moments, and makes you feel as if you are there, experiencing the places she loved along with her characters. And yet, for all her lengthy descriptions, and fairy-lit ramblings, I feel as if she is never excessive. Nothing is wasted.
She first taught me to look at the world with rose colored glasses. The best kind. They're not the sort of glasses that blind you to pain, suffering, or the frequent hardships of life. But they are full of hope, and they finds beauty in the smallest, simplest of things.
Montgomery can break me with her words, and split my heart down the middle. Her book, Mistress Pat, is the only thing I've read that has ever made me sob aloud. Me, who never cries at a book (or film), no matter how awful or joyful it is.
But that is not all.
L.M. Montgomery also seriously warped my brain.
For whatever reason, she always seems to write heroines that are not physically beautiful. In fact, they can be downright awkward and plain. None the less, they all seem to have an enchanting something about them, and manage to attract the attention of complete strangers, kind celebrities, and myriads of boys (who find them fascinating next to the "ordinary" beauty of fashionable girls). Seriously, almost every heroine Montgomery wrote has no less than 3 suitors, and multiple proposals of marriage, before they settle down with the one they were destined for.
Was it any wonder that I; tall, bony and be-spectacled, took this to heart? That I clung to the belief that "being smart is better than being pretty," and imagined I had charms enough to attract almost any boy I was acquainted with? Poor, delusional, awkward Amanda Flynn. I was so full of myself, it's a miracle my head didn't explode. (And I guess it's a miracle it doesn't explode now, either. There's always a new set of issues to resolve. :P)
Thank you, Lucy Maud. I am still recovering from the embarrassment of my teenage years. I imagined myself to possess exquisite charms, and I was never asked out once. ;)
But I love her dearly, even if she did warp my foolish, adolescent brain, and inspired me to spend 2 years on a novel that made my sisters laugh out loud. Every time I re-read some of her work I realize that she really, truly is that good.
So, now that I've finished writing more than I even talk, who are some authors who have shaped you? And is Lucy Maud Montgomery one of your favorites?