Jane Urquhart’s L.M. Montgomery (2009)

Those who have already seen the exhaustive and enticing biography of L.M. Montgomery that Mary Rubio published last year might wonder whether readers need another biography of this 20thC writer, but these two are very different.

Urquhart’s will appeal to those who admired Carol Shield’s slim biography of Jane Austen, which similarly condensed the writer’s life experience and explored themes and ideas more than biographical details.

Her LMM biography begins with a vivid sketch (of course Urquhart is an accomplished novelist herself) of the way that she imagines the author may have approached her death.

It’s quite a beginning and indicates her willingness to broach the recent controversy surrounding the author’s death without hesitation (some family members having recently revealed that they believe LMM committed suicide). It’s an unsettling beginning but it pulls the reader into the biography.

Urquhart’s way with words makes this biography an accessible read and, for those who aren’t familiar with LMM already, I think they will be intrigued and furnished with a useful overview, whereas those who are more familiar with L.M. Montgomery will find it interesting to consider the way that Urquhart has arranged and connected events in the author’s life.

In Urquhart’s opinion, a “truly great artist should be remembered for her influence on that which follows as much as she is remembered for her work”. And, as such, she believes that Montgomery’s influence is only now beginning to be understood. She writes: “Essentially, she gave permission to succeeding generations of Canadian writers to mythologize their dusty small towns and marginal farms, their daily lives and those of their seemingly unexceptional neighbours.”

LMM has been one of my favourite writers since I was a girl, so I don’t need any convincing on whether her storytelling has had an impact, but I’d say Urquhart makes her case persuasively.

Anyone else consider either L.M. Montgomery or Jane Urquhart a favourite writer of theirs?

2014-02-27T15:57:10+00:00

4 Comments

  1. Buried In Print February 4, 2010 at 10:37 am - Reply

    If you decide to get all obsession-y about her, Erin, as you have recently with LMA :grin:, you might also enjoy Elizabeth Waterston’s The Magic Island and the Mary Rubio biography, The Gift of Wings, that I should have linked to in my post. I have dabbled excessively in both books, but would love an excuse to read start-to-finish if you’re keen for a co-reader…

  2. Wanda February 4, 2010 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Love Jane Urquhart! Her Stone Cold Baby is a gorgeous poem and I adored The Stone Carvers so much, it’s one of those rare books that I’ve actually re-read.

    • Buried In Print February 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Oh, see, that does catch my interest, Wanda, for JU is a writer whose work I have really, really wanted to enjoy more than I have so far (with the exception of this biography). I’ve read Storm Glass and I think I have started every single one of her novels and never progressed further than, say, 20 pages. Each time it baffles me because I’m so sure that it’s “my kind of story” and that she is “my kind of writer” (based on some essays and interviews I’ve read). Maybe I just haven’t tried hard enough yet? ::eyes the Urquhart volumes across the room::

  3. Erin Blakemore February 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    *Raises hand* Maud is an all-time favorite writer, and the more I learn about her, the more intrigued I become.

    I’ve been meaning to read the Urquhart bio for a while now, and now that I’m looking at the cover again it’s going to have to rise a few notches on my list 🙂

Say something bookish, or just say 'hey'