This is Maud’s last volume, covering the years 1935-1942. She and her husband, Ewan, have recently moved to Toronto after his retirement from the ministry. There are many of the same pet topics in this last volume — concern over Ewan’s health, worries about her sons’ lives, a deep fascination with her own depression, and rumination over old friendships and earlier days.
In these last years, literary critics began to separate out “highbrow” and “lowbrow” literature. One was serious (and therefore more worthy), the other was not. “Montgomery’s writing was regional, domestic, and largely localized within a single province,” not the “universalized, cosmopolitan” works being produced by many Canadian authors at the time. It is painful to watch a beloved author understand she is no longer the literary giant she once was (at least in regard to critical acclaim).
During these years, Maud wrote the two last Anne books (and my two least favorites) — WINDY POPLARS and ANNE OF INGLESIDE — as well as my second favorite stand alone, JANE OF LANTERN HILL.
Those of you who have read along know I’ve been curious throughout our reading as to a person’s ability to truly record a life. Editors of the journals, Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston, make a fascinating statement in this volume’s introduction:
“Echoing her statement that she used her journals to “consume her own smoke,” we believe that the journals, in turn, consumed her. her journals may have increased her despair precisely because they often gave an unbalanced representation of her life.”
This not an easy book to read.
The first time I read this volume, I remember flipping to the Notes section in the back and coming across the last entry Maud ever wrote. It literally made my heart jump.
There is debate about Maud’s death. Many trust it was suicide. Editors Rubio and Waterston do not. In light of the journal, it’s hard for me not to believe she took her own life. Here are a few interesting articles for those of you who want to learn more.