Monday, May 9, 2011

On The Road With L.M. Montgomery

This week I've been on an L.M. Montgomery binge, thanks to my recent trip to Ohio.

The most pressing concern I have when traveling is not security restrictions or the high price of airport food or even how to squeeze into a restroom stall with all of my luggage. No, it's how to carry enough reading material for the trip without straining my back.

The last time I flew, I brought my laptop with me figuring that I could download enough e-books to keep me occupied even if the plane got rerouted to Australia. The problem is, there's at least a half hour at the beginning and end of each flight when you're not allowed to use any electronic devices -- not to mention the possibility of being stuck on the runway for extended periods -- which are all times when I'd want to be reading. And as I discovered, a laptop is a bit heavy and clunky, and you have to worry about Things Happening To It. Supposing a patch of turbulence sloshes tomato juice all over my keyboard? Supposing I drop it? And on this particular trip my carry-on included a large gift box with my granddaughter's First Communion dress, a bubble-wrapped icon which my sister had asked me to hand deliver, my purse, and enough food to sustain me through an eight hour journey. No way could I add a lap top without either going over my carry-on limit or hurting myself!

So I decided I'd better take lightweight paperback books, two in my carry-on for the trip there and two in my checked luggage for the trip back. The library where I work sells any donations they can't use, and I was lucky enough to find three of the "Anne" books and a novel by Madeleine L'Engle. (They were only 25 cents each, so I didn't mind buying traveling copies of books I already own in hardcover.) So I read Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Windy Poplars, and Anne's House of Dreams that weekend. By the time I got home, I was on a roll. So I went on to read Anne of the Island and Chronicles of Avonlea.

I don't mind reading books out of order like this when I've read the whole series before. And Montgomery didn't write them in chronological order anyway. Anne of Windy Poplars (1936) is a "sequel" to Anne of the Island (1915) and the events of Anne of Ingleside (1939) take place before Rainbow Valley (1919). I looked them up because I thought that I'd read the rest of the Anne books in publication order so as to get a feel for how Anne's world developed for people who read them as they came out. And while I was on Wikipedia, I discovered that a new edition of Rilla of Ingleside was published in 2010.
My own copy is a 1985 paperback published by Bantam. Although the copyright page states that, "it contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition," I'm not sure whether the notice refers to an abridged hardcover or not.

In 2009, Viking Canada also published The Blythes Are Quoted, a sequel to Rilla of Ingleside. This was something I had never heard of before. Apparently, it's a mixture of short stories, poems and vignettes. Most of the stories previously appeared in magazines, and Montgomery rewrote them to include cameos of or references to Anne and her family. (Something which, as I recall, she also did in Chronicles of Avonlea.) The poems are attributed to Anne and her son Walter. A significantly abridged version of the book was published in 1974 as The Road to Yesterday which I have never read.

Yes, back in the olden days, we were limited to books we could find in our local libraries and bookstores. But now that I'm living in the "technological vastness of the future," I've ordered both books online. (Hint: it's cheaper to order through Amazon Canada -- even with international shipping.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ooooh looking forward to your report on the restored RILLA.