The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Volume I: 1889-1910
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Editors: Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston
Cavendish, P.E. Island
Sept. 21, 1889
I am going to begin a new kind of diary. I have kept one of a kind for years—ever since I was a tot of nine. But I burned it to-day. It was so silly I was ashamed of it. And it was also very dull. I wrote in it religiously every day and told what kind of weather it was. Most of the time I hadn't much else to tell but I would have thought it a kind of crime not to write daily in it—nearly as bad as not saying my prayers or washing my face.
...from page 1
This volume of Montgomery's journal entries covers her life from age 14 to 36. It includes over a hundred photos of people and places, notes to explain references in the entries, a biography, family tree, maps, and an index. The journal entries alone cover almost 400 pages.
In the first half of the book, the entries are often light-hearted and short, with reports of social functions and outings with friends, her experiences at various schools (both as a student and as a teacher), and her dreams of being a published author. In 1890, she moved to Saskatchewan to live with her father and on the trip out there, she met Sir John A. Macdonald.
Monday, Aug. 11, 1890
Sir John is a spry-looking old man—not handsome but pleasant-faced. Lady M. is quite stately and imposing, with very beautiful silver hair, but not at all good looking and dressed, as I thought, very dowdily.
...from page 25
Montgomery was well-liked and active in the community. She received multiple marriage proposals and declarations of love and, for the most part, seemed happy. Then, on June 30, 1897, when Montgomery was 22 years old, things changed abruptly.
It seems years since I laid down my pen at the close of that last entry. Between then and now stretches a century of suffering and horror, "counting time by heartthrobs." The girl who wrote on June 3rd is as dead as if the sod were heaped over her—dead past possibility of any resurrection. I cannot realize that I was ever she. And indeed, I was not. What or who I am now I do not know. I only know that I have made a terrible mess of things and am the most miserable creature on the face of the earth. It is all my own fault—and I wish I were dead!
...from page 186
From that point on, the entries were much longer, often several pages, and the happy girl from the first part of the book was indeed gone. It wasn't all doom and gloom though. There was a passionate love affair, her eventual engagement to Ewan Macdonald, and the publication of Anne of Green Gables.
Sunday, June 20, 1908
To-day has been, as Anne herself would say "an epoch in my life". My book came to-day, fresh from the publishers. I candidly confess that it was for me a proud, wonderful, thrilling moment! There in my hand lay the material realization of all the dreams and hopes and ambitions and struggles of my whole conscious existence—my first book! Not a great book at all—but mine, mine, mine,—something to which I had given birth—something which, but for me, would never have existed.
...from page 335
The book is not only a history of the early years of one woman's life but also a social history of the time. It's absolutely fascinating reading, whether or not you're a fan of Montgomery and/or Anne, and I recommend it.
Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 30 June 2008 from the hardcover edition.
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Added 30 June 2008.
Updated 30 March 2013.