Wait, I’m assuming you’ve both read (and loved) the Anne of Green Gables series.
You have? Good. Let’s continue.
So, I’m browsing the shelves of Chapters in a small town in Ontario recently, and my fingers are drawn to a soft green cover with gold embossed writing on the spine. It says, The Blythes Are Quoted, by L. M. Montgomery.
I’m intrigued. I take it down from the shelf. It’s beautiful, a hefty volume of about 500 lovingly bound pages with a painted scene of PEI on the cover.
I call a Chapters-woman over. “What’s this?” I ask her.
She tells me essentially what the book’s foreword says, which is, “The Blythes Are Quoted is the last work of fiction the world-famous author of Anne of Green Gables prepared for publication before her untimely death on April 24, 1942. It has never been published in its entirety… Until now, the full text of The Blythes Are Quoted has remained something of a secret.”
Apparently someone delivered the manuscript to Montgomery’s publisher on the day of her death, but it was never published. Long-story short, any publisher who tried to put it into print either annotated the material or left half of it out.
There’s a reason for that. The book is a collection of short stories, none of them directly about Anne of Green Gables (but she’s usually mentioned at least in passing). After each story is a poem or two that “Anne” has written, and some dialogue between Anne and her family members about the poem.
Here’s the other reason: some of the stories are kind of dark. There’s one about a girl who is taken by her aunt into a forest upon each full moon to meet ghosts. There’s another one about a man who is taken on a joy ride by a knife-wielding lunatic. Actually, did I say “kind of” dark? These stories are dark. But oh so much fun!
Some publishers left out the poems, and some left out the “dark.” Viking Canada in 2009 and now Penguin this year have published all of it, and it’s good stuff.
If you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan (you people in Japan*, I’m talking to you), you and your daughter would do well to pick up this strange and delightful nugget of Anne-inspired wonderfulness.
It’s not exactly a spunky redheaded orphan getting into mischief. More like her dead, insane, murderous older sister on a drunken rampage—if she were still cute and likeable.
Anyway, the price of the volume is worth it just for the lovely cover art.
*I’m not trying to be funny… the Japanese love Anne like the French love Jerry Lewis. They’re obsessed with her. They’ve got good taste.