Mai Yamani

Maud (WITHOUT an 'E')

Some years ago I found a copy of The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, Volume III in a used bookstore, and I've never read it because, among other reasons, I'm constitutionally incapable of starting anything with Volume III. Some time during Femslash February I got frustrated that there wasn't more Anne/Diana fic, especially higher-rated fic (and seriously, why isn't there more Anne/Diana fic?), which extremely indirectly led me to finally put in an interlibrary loan for Volume I, 1889-1910, which I then in due time received. It makes for really fascinating reading. LMM burned all her previous journaling attempts at fourteen and started fresh, so it doesn't quite take her from Anne's age to author of Anne of Green Gables and its first sequel, but it's close. Young Maud (without an 'E') reminds me of her various young heroines in flashes while seeming to me like her own very different person.

The low-hanging fruit of biographical criticism is that LMM, raised primarily by her own aloof grandmother, returned again and again to stories about young girls who melt older women's hearts, so it surprised me that contemporaneously, at least from fourteen onwards, Maud barely mentioned her grandmother in her journal at all. Generally she alluded to her grandparents collectively, or if either was singled out for particular mention, it was her grandfather, pretty much always in the context of how they hampered her social life. Her focus as teenager was very much on writing about her relationships with her peers, male and female. It was only later, starting in her mid twenties, that she began to write about her childhood in retrospect. After her grandfather died, Maud was forced to live with her grandmother in order that she could stay in her own home, which probably had not a little to do with how the role of the older woman became so prominent in her work. The way she describes it, she found these things much more painful to remember than she thought that they had been to her at the time, which I think does comport with the way she presented herself in those earlier journal entries.

I hadn't read anything about either her long unhappy engagement to a man whom she realized, more or less the instant that she accepted his proposal, that she couldn't stand to be intimate with, nor her torrid love affair with a man that she didn't respect and had already decided that she would never marry but whom she could barely keep her hands off of. By her account, they got pretty hot and heavy, having ample alone time in the house where they were both boarding, and on one occasion only narrowly avoided having sex when she, though strongly tempted, refused. It seems like this was her only real experience with physical attraction, at least thus far, and it pretty much just made her miserable. By the end of this volume, she is engaged to the man she would marry, Ewan Macdonald, and knowing what I've read in passing in other sources about their marriage, it was like a horror movie as she talked herself into the engagement.

I was also surprised how little she wrote about her writing in her journal. Notably, she sprung Anne of Green Gables upon it as a fait accompli, which is rather amusing. She does then mention working on the sequel in subsequent entries, more like what I would expect.

I only realized after I'd finished reading the selected journals that this book was coming out in a month: Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery. It's a YA novel that looks to begin when she's fourteen, where it can draw on the journals, and climax with her sadly necessary decision to move back to Cavendish with her grandparents because her father's new wife is awful. I've placed a hold on it as well to see if it's any good.

Sidenote, mostly relevant to my own interests: teenaged Maud was apparently an avid and skilled baseball player. ♥ She says they played a modified game of ball at recess, and described another game, at a celebration of the Queen's Birthday: "After dinner Mr. Stovel made some bats and we all went over to the lake and had a game of baseball. It was glorious. Mr. S and I were on the same side and we just made things hum. We won the game, too."

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