I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t acquainted with Anne Shirley. I can’t quite remember now which came first, watching the movie or reading the book, but they certainly happened close together. Thankfully, the movie never ruined the book for me, and while these days I have to grit my teeth through parts of the sequel (and I refuse, utterly and completely, to ever watch the third), even knowing and loving the books as well as I do, I can still watch the movie without flinching.
This fellow might have something to do with that. Oh, Gilbert!
I’ve never been as big a fan of the Emily books – I adore Emily of New Moon, but the later two books of the trilogy get under my skin in parts. Frankly, Emily herself infuriates me the older she gets, as does Ilse.
However, as one who grew up in an extended family that can only properly be called a clan, with aunts and uncles and cousins galore, as well as second cousins and the like (my father is the oldest of eight; his father was also the oldest of eight, and his mother was one of five), my favorites out of all of LMM’s works would have to be the Story Girl books. And not just because my sister and I watched Road to Avonlea every week on CBC when we were growing up! The books are so different from the show.
For one thing, the books didn’t have him. Oh, Gus!
I love LMM’s writing style. I even love her “purple prose.” I’ve been writing LMM fanfiction since 2005. I started it as a bored and lonely newlywed, while Carl was at work and I needed something to distract me from my loud and inconsiderate neighbors, and the fact that I had no car or any way to get away during the day. Escaping to PEI, and a simpler time, more romantic way of life, an era I’ve always loved … well, it just might have saved my sanity. It certainly brought me some wonderful friends (hi, Adrienne and Cathy!) who shared my love for LMM and her works.
Thanks to LMM, I learned how to explore different genres of writing besides just YA fantasy. I learned to play with different styles, to change my tone depending on what type of story I was writing. I learned that, as Mr Carpenter tells Emily, “pine woods are just as real as pigsties, and a darn sight more pleasant” – meaning, don’t let other people force you to write ugly things just because they are “realistic.” I learned how to write gentle romance (romance of any kind always having terrified me before).
I also developed a mad, passionate love affair with adjectives and rambling descriptions, which I am now desperately trying to combat. Not all influences are good!
I recently started my eleventh LMM fanfic (yes, for those of you who follow my LMM stories, that would be Gwen’s WWII story). I am not exactly working hard on it, having a few original projects that are taking most of my attention, but it is growing in my brain and a little bit on paper. No matter if I ever get published, or wherever my writing takes me, I suspect I will always have some LMM story brewing on the side.
It’s the least I can do to honor the woman who brought such magic to my childhood (and adulthood, if I’m honest).
Did you grow up reading the Anne books? Did you have a crush on Gilbert Blythe (or Gus Pike)? Is there a book that you have read for so long that you can’t remember a time when it wasn’t part of your life? Do you write or read fanfiction at all?