Looking For Anne
Irene Gammel
(Key Porter)
Irene Gammel’s Looking for Anne isn’t so much a biography of Montgomery’s life but an outline of her process during the time she wrote Anne of Green Gables. Gammel portrays Montgomery as a serious and ambitious writer but asserts it was profound loneliness and emotional isolation that drove Montgomery in her writing. Much of Green Gables, Gammel says, represents something of a "‘wish-fufillment" dream for Montgomery; she lacked a strong maternal figure in her life--Maud never had her own "Marilla" so gave her heroine one instead. The book is detailed yet conversational. Gammel’s search for the influences of Anne is something of a detective story and Gammel can sometimes get carried away with the language of “big revelation.” In the section on model Evelyn Nesbitt, Gammel reveals that she spent months tracking down the name of the model in the photo Maud tacked above her desk while writing Anne, and later said was the inspiration for Anne’s face. Finding that name was probably a big moment for Gammel but in the book it comes off as jarring in tone. If Montgomery’s life and work has taught us anything it is that God is in the mundane and the best passages in Looking For Anne are about Montgomery transporting herself away in daydreams and transforming her surroundings and feelings and then pouring it all into Green Gables. Gammel’s portrait of Montgomery is at its most affecting when she describes Montgomery allowing the good and bad feelings, the daydreams and fancies to congeal in her head and form such an enduring classic.
Hillary Titley
type: book

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