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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Fragrance of Sweet-Grass discussion (4/4)

Were there new insights or perspectives that you gained through this reading?
Did this reading cause you to notice anything about LMM‘s work that you hadn‘t noticed before?

willaful I'll have to answer this one later. I'm at my mom's (she just had surgery -- is doing fine!) and couldn't bring the book with me to check my bookmarks. 14h
TheAromaofBooks I appreciated that Epperly seemed more into fitting LMM's writing into a larger, world-events kind of context more than the nitty-gritty of LMM's personal life. It was interesting to think about which books were written before, during, and after WWI, and how those feelings impacted LMM's writing and themes. For instance, it made a lot of the weirdo-obsessions of Pat make more sense in the larger theme of “the war has changed everything.“ 14h
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Fragrance of Sweet-Grass discussion (3/4)

What significant points do you think Epperly really got right?
Were there any significant points you disagreed with?

willaful I agreed with most of her personal reactions--about the way Anne loses her personality over time, & the richness of the Emily books.

My main disagreement was re Teddy & Dean. I haven't reread the Emily books in a long time & I came to them later than Anne, when there was a revival of interest in Montgomery and many more books of hers were available than were at my childhood libraries. But I'm positive I was not on Dean's side of the triangle.
willaful I think it's kind of funny that the author, while clearly seeing how far superior Teddy is for Emily as a life partner, is still captivated by Dean's broody Rochester-ness and assumes everyone else is too. 😂 14h
TheAromaofBooks I did agree with most of what she had to say (except about Anne of Avonlea; I felt like she was way too harsh on that book). There were also times that she made very sweeping statements about heroines only struggling because of their female status, without remotely exploring other possibilities (i.e. would Emily's family have been excited to have a BOY who was into writing poetry instead of farming...?? Maybe, maybe not). Like @willaful I felt ⬇ 14h
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) that she was WAY to easy on Dean. He's literally a groomer, but she doesn't really touch on the super creepy aspect of their age difference within the context of him “claiming“ her when she is a CHILD and then purposefully “molding her mind“ over the next decade. Instead, Epperly acts like they are intellectual equals, thus making Dean's “friendship“ a positive aspect of Emily's life. Very debatable. ⬇ 14h
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) Things I liked - I thought her analysis of Rilla was really well done, and I actually loved her analysis of House of Dreams, especially within its context of being written/published during the war. Aside from Dean, I thought the views on the Emily trilogy were quite good. Overall, while I quibbled with some details in each chapter, I found myself mostly agreeing with overall themes. ⬇ 14h
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) If you feel like posting a specific discussion spot for each section and/or chapter, I could probably share many more feelings 😂 I made a LOT of marginal notes! 14h
willaful @TheAromaofBooks Yes, she was overly harsh on AoA Anne. I don't think Montgomery ever meant Anne to be perfect. 14h
willaful @TheAromaofBooks Oh, good point about Dean grooming! (edited) 14h
TheAromaofBooks @willaful - I think she kind of ignores Anne being 16/17 in that book. It's an age where Anne is becoming an adult & learning the difference between imagination & reality, and learning that “magic“ doesn't have to be dramatic; romance CAN be found in the every day. Epperly caught some of that, but didn't give Anne a lot of grace. It's not a perfect book, but to say it's a book that “only children“ can really enjoy felt unduly harsh on both book ⬇ (edited) 14h
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) and readers!! 14h
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Fragrance of Sweet-Grass discussion (2/4)

What would you say is Epperly‘s overall thesis about LMM‘s heroines and their quest for romance?
Is it clear throughout the book?
Do you agree with her conclusions?

willaful Unfortunately I'm not quite done, so I'm not sure I can answer this. I think she does demonstrate some progression on Montgomery's expression of the ideas, but I'm not sure all her conclusions were supported. 14h
TheAromaofBooks I appreciated that Epperly seemed to recognize that LMM's different heroines were seeking different types of romance beyond just girl+boy=marriage. I especially enjoyed her chapter on Pat/Jane and their romance of the home. Where she fell down a little for me were times that she said that LMM only had her characters find love/marriage because it was “expected“ - in a negative way. I don't think LMM loved writing romance, but I don't think it's ⬇ 14h
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) because she didn't like romance or didn't want her characters to be married. I just think it wasn't her favorite thing to write. When Epperly quoted someone who said Dean was “the nearest L.M. Montgomery ever got to creating a plausible lover“ I kind of threw up in my mouth. 😖 I'm not sure why the analysis we've read all are down on Gilbert/Gilbert and Anne together/seem to think LMM was reluctant to have them together. @willaful 14h
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willaful @TheAromaofBooks LOL! Yes, I also found the negativity around Gilbert odd. Perhaps she blames Gilbert for the diminishing of Anne in some of the later books? Not really fair to him. 14h
TheAromaofBooks @willaful - I think I've never been bothered by the “diminishing“ of Anne, because I just feel like the focus was on other characters. Being an established, married, humdrum adult in your 30s/40s just isn't as interesting or engaging reading as a focus on the younger generation. I never felt like Anne herself became less of herself, she's just not as prominently featured. I thought Epperly's constant complaint about it was a little strange. ⬇ 14h
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) Especially when she was griping about it in Rilla... literally the name of the book is RILLA of Ingleside, so I don't find it strange that Anne isn't the main character?? 14h
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I am behind and haven‘t finished the last two chapters yet! But I thought I‘d go ahead and put some questions out there and then go finish my reading 😆

#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - Fragrance of Sweet-Grass discussion (1/4)

Have you read much literary analysis/literary criticism before?
What was it like reading this type of analysis of beloved, well-known favorites like the Anne and Emily books?

rubyslippersreads I‘m behind (although I‘m pretty sure I read the Emily chapters years ago). Will try to catch up soon and answer. 16h
willaful This is honestly just the sort of literary criticism I enjoy. It's not too academic for me to understand and has an emotional component to it. It probably helped that I mostly agreed with her. 😁 14h
TheAromaofBooks I'm with @willaful - I felt like this was approachable but still felt “legit“ in its tone and structure. I haven't read a lot of literary analysis because I get really emotionally attached to books and don't always want to hear what others think 😂 14h
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via @BarbaraJean So apparently the 24th is next Saturday—who knew? 😆 I‘m not as far into this as I‘d like, but am hoping to catch up and get some questions posted next weekend! All are welcome to join in—let me know if you‘re not tagged and you‘d like to be. #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead

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So apparently the 24th is next Saturday—who knew? 😆 I‘m not as far into this as I‘d like, but am hoping to catch up and get some questions posted next weekend! All are welcome to join in—let me know if you‘re not tagged and you‘d like to be. #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead

TheAromaofBooks I just finished the Rilla chapter yesterday, so I am plugging away haha I am actually enjoying this more than I thought I would. While I don't agree with everything, she makes a lot of good points/parallels/connections that don't feel nearly as much of a stretch as some of the others we've read! Still feel like she was unduly harsh on poor Avonlea! 😂 7d
TheAromaofBooks I can't seem to remember.... do we have a March book to read?? 2d
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks We do not… I‘ve been thinking about taking a break for a few months, but seeing if there‘s interest in continuing with reading the journals together. Or some related books that have come up—I‘m fascinated with all the connections Epperly is making with Jane Eyre/Aurora Leigh/Story of an African Farm. And I‘ve been told that the Ladies of Missalonghi is a complete ripoff of The Blue Castle, and would be interested in comparing! 2d
TheAromaofBooks Keep me in the loop!! I'd be interested in reading some other things (although probably not Jane Eyre again... I just can't seem to get my head around the Brontes haha) I honestly have a strange desire to reread LMM's works in the order that she published them (except Mistress Pat...) I'm excited about our discussion of this book; I've enjoyed it way more than I thought I would and feel like Epperly makes a lot of great points (and some not 😂) 2d
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@TheAromaofBooks - I‘m on the Anne of Avonlea essay and am arguing with the author in the margins. 😒 So far, I‘m finding her analysis to be a lot better supported than Magic Island, though. I‘m appreciating a lot of the details she points out—even if I‘m disagreeing with a lot of her conclusions! #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead

willaful I like your comments. Alas, I'm reading an ebook. 😂 2w
TheAromaofBooks I didn't really care for the Avonlea chapter (at one point she says something like “many children enjoy this book“ which felt pretty insulting for anyone who is NOT a child an enjoys the book), but now I am reading the Island chapter and it's better (because the author likes it better??) Her thoughts don't seem as wildly opinionated as Magic Island, but I do feel that she's a bit harsh on Anne, who is only 17ish in Avonlea - I've always felt that⬇ 2w
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) this was a growing pains kind of book. To me, in GG she's always had to live in her imagination because real life sucked, so now that real life is good, she is having trouble separating imagination from reality. In Avonlea, she's learning that romance/magic can be found in everyday life, but still has a tendency to add too much imagination, which can distort/unbalance her perspective. She's gaining perspective, but still takes herself ⬇ 2w
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TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) too seriously sometimes. In Island, she's learned to laugh at herself much more readily, which I think is one of the biggest lessons she learned in Avonlea (Epperly doesn't seem to mention it), but still has a lot of romantic ideals for the future. What Epperly seems to ignore is that a lot of growing up, in general, is about learning what is ACTUALLY important and what will ACTUALLY make you happy. And to me that's what Anne learns in ⬇ 2w
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) Island - she realizes that a lot of her romantic ideals, about both marriage and general life, won't actually make her happy in real life. All the romantic pairings we see in that story illustrate it in different ways as various individuals make choices about what will make them happy. Epperly is down on Island's “preoccupation with marriage,“ but no matter how you cut it, finding a life mate always has been and still is a big part of ⬇ 2w
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) life and growing up. Some of the reasons for wanting to find that person change from generation to generation, but I don't think it's an outdated or that LMM would have necessarily written the story differently if she was writing now instead of when she did. And maybe that's part of why a lot of these commentaries have bothered me a little - the assumption that if LMM had had a “choice“ she would have written completely different stories⬇ 2w
TheAromaofBooks (cont'd) that she was just “trapped“ by “convention“ into writing what she did. I am not sure that I agree that the essence of LMM's stories and characters would have changed so drastically. But maybe I'm wrong haha And also I appear to be writing a book myself in these comments, so I'll stop for now. In short, I am enjoying the chapter on Island more, and my margins are also getting quite a few !??! written in them 😂 2w
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I‘m super excited about February‘s #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead pick! Examining LMM‘s heroines‘ pursuit of romance is perfect for February. I‘m hoping we fare better with this critical study of LMM‘s work than we did with Magic Island. 😏

Discussion will be on Saturday, Feb. 24th—all are welcome! Let me know if you‘d like to be added to the tag list.

TheAromaofBooks I really thought I had already ordered this book, but can't find it or any receipts for it, so did I imagine the entire thing?! 😂 Off to see if I can find a copy on eBay, apparently! 4w
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks Ha! I did kind of the opposite—partway through last year, I discovered I‘d bought a copy of this but hadn‘t added it to the Kindred Spirits schedule 😂 Which may be why you thought you‘d bought it but hadn‘t? It might be my fault for adding it late… 😬 3w
TheAromaofBooks I think maybe I looked at a few used copies last month but didn't actually pull the trigger on one. It's on the way now 😂 Hopefully I don't end up rage reviewing it like Magic Island!! 3w
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BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I hope so too!!! I just want one book of LMM literary analysis that is actually good!! 3w
TheAromaofBooks Well, I'm reading about ten pages of this one a day, and so far have a lot of ?!?!?! in the margins 😂 3w
BarbaraJean @TheAromaofBooks I‘m halfway through the AoGG essay and so far I‘m liking it much more than Magic Island! 3w
TheAromaofBooks It's a lot more scholarly than Magic Island, but I still feel that she leans too heavily (so far, anyway; I just finished the AoGG chapter this morning) into the “Anne had to smother her true, independent, free-thinking self so she could be with Gilbert, and only because Montgomery had to succumb to gender norms of the times.“ I just don't see marriage as Anne's inevitable dead-end that society backed her into. 3w
willaful @TheAromaofBooks I do think she makes valid points about how Anne's character changes throughout the series. 2w
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#KindredSpiritsBuddyRead - After Anne discussion part 3

“There are questions and emotional realities of Maud‘s life that remain a mystery. That is the space where fiction can enter.” (from the Author‘s Note)

What is the value for you of historical fiction like this, that speculates on the “questions and emotional realities” of a person‘s life?
Did you enjoy this story as historical fiction?

BarbaraJean I'm torn about this type of historical fiction. I was super into “Biblical fiction“ in high school—basically historical fiction based on Biblical characters like Esther, Miriam, Lydia, etc. I didn't feel conflicted about those, but I do about this (I felt the same way about the novel Maud). In some senses, it seems presumptuous—and intrusive? sensationalist? I can't pin down why exactly—to speculate on someone's emotional life in this way. ⬇ 1mo
rubyslippersreads I‘m with you (and I felt the same way about the YA novel you tagged). I finished After Anne feeling quite depressed. (edited) 1mo
BarbaraJean Relatedly, it bothered me that the author assumed Maud‘s suicide as a fact (both in the narrative and in her author‘s note at the end). Based on the Rubio biography, Maud‘s death seemed far more complicated than that, especially the “page 176”—likely part of her journal notes—that was assumed to be a suicide note. This is part of my problem with historical fiction—presenting what is an interpretation of someone's life as fact. 1mo
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BarbaraJean @rubyslippersreads I finished this one feeling pretty depressed as well. LMM's later life is so very sad, but it seemed like this novel focused on reliving the most difficult parts of LMM's life after her publishing career began. There was so much more to her life than the parts this book chose to focus on, and that was frustrating. (edited) 1mo
lauraisntwilder I normally enjoy historical fiction, but I'm not sure I've read a novel about someone I know so much about (except maybe Hemingway). @rubyslippersreads Yes, this definitely was depressing. The author's note was really illuminating for me. She talked about the major sorrows of Maud's life and they weren't the same ones I would've named. 1mo
rubyslippersreads @lauraisntwilder @BarbaraJean The one thing I will say for this book is that it‘s made me very interested in reading LMM‘s Journals. 1mo
BarbaraJean @rubyslippersreads Me too! I‘ve been thinking about taking a break from #KindredSpiritsBuddyRead after February, but maybe reconvening for a buddy read of the journals at some point. 4w
rubyslippersreads @BarbaraJean I‘d definitely be interested in that. 4w
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