Last night I was watching a biography of L.M. Montgomery. It was fascinating. It focused a lot on her recently published journals.

In the biography, it was all Anne this and Anne that. There was a mention of Emily of New Moon, but that was it. My favourite book of hers, The Blue Castle, wasn’t even mentioned.

The main thesis around the biography seemed to lie in the contrast between L.M. Montgomery and her intrepid heroine, Anne.

Years ago, while coming back from Nova Scotia we visited Green Gables in P.E.I. It was beautiful, but unfortunately what they ‘ve done to the little house Lucy Maud made so famous is the exact opposite of what Anne would have wanted. It’s gone commercial! All it needs is an amusement park and the transformation will be complete. 

It was a fine day, and the grounds were full, everybody taking a tour of the little house with the green gables. I loved the haunted wood. It was different from what I expected, basically being a thicket of some kind of evergreen where the lower branches were silvery and bare. It was very quiet along the path.

The people at the house told us we should check out the place where Montgomery had actually grown up. I told the ladies in attendance that Anne of Green Gables  was not my favourite book of Montgomery’s. My favourite has been The Blue Castle. One of the lady’s eyes lit up. The Blue Castle was her favourite too.

Montgomery’s home was only a few miles down the road. There was a room upstairs, with a sloping roof, painted yellow that must be the exact one that Montgomery describes as Valancy’s bedroom in The Blue Castle.

In The Blue Castle Valancy deals with a very *cold* mother, and apparently this character was based on her grandparents whom she lived with.

Her father had gone out west and remarried, Montgomery grew up with very stern grandparents, which is why, some argue, that she was able to write so convincingly of being an orphan.

Montgomery didn’t marry the person she was most fond of. She married a handsome reverend named Ewan MacDonald.

My Guyanese in-laws have a saying. “She pick pick and she pick shit.” It refers to women who are too picky when it comes to getting married. I was reminded of this saying when I was listening to Montgomery’s biography.

Why did she marry this guy? Anne would not have!

Neither would Valancy.

But the guy she liked was poor and without status.

Authors often write about what people long to do, and yet when it comes to it, these authors must live in real society. Unfortunately, L.M. Montgomery didn’t have the courage that Anne and Valancy did.

And as a result, she suffered for it.

By the way, it’s been said that Bernard Snaith, the good-looking rake that Valancy Sterling eventually marries, bears a striking resemblance to the guy L.M. Montgomery really loved.

Montgomery was prone to bouts of depression, probably because Ewan MacDonald ended up having mental illness. He went on rampages around the house where he was convinced he was condemned to hellfire and could not be saved.

Kind of like Roaring Abel, a character in The Blue Castle.

So much of her art, mirrored Montgomery’s life.

But Montgomery’s end was the most disappointing of all.

The biography failed to mention what has been proven beyond doubt, that Montgomery killed herself.

I know I’m going to come across as callous and unfeeling and I don’t mean to. Unfortunately I don’t understand depression and suicide.

But honestly, it makes me quite angry that she killed herself.

I feel like she had every advantage imaginable.

It almost smacks of hypocrisy that she didn’t buy the optimism she packaged in Anne.

To me L. M. Montgomery, didn’t quite buy what she was selling.

I still love The Blue Castle. Her suicide doesn’t render its themes any less valid.

But this whole situation reminds me of a story my parents once told me about a religous man in Pakistan.

There was once a poor villager who came to listen to his sermons and one of the things this religious man said was that, “If your belief is strong enough,  you can walk on water.”

So the man decided to test these words of wisdom. Everyday he had to pay money to the guy who ferried him across the river. One day he decided to walk across the water, and his belief was so strong, that he did it.

He saved so much money, that he wanted to thank the religious man for his wisdom, so he invited him to dinner.

They were going to his home and came to the river and the religious man gestured towards the ferry. The man said, “No. You said if your belief was strong, you could walk across the water.”

The religious man said, “You walk. I’m taking the ferry.”