I finished reading Melanie Fishbane's Maud a few weeks ago, and it isn't overstating it to say that I both laughed out loud and bawled my eyes out throughout the entire novel. Miss Fishbane has a real talent for storytelling, and I must implore all of you upfront to pick up this novel and throw yourself into the world of Cavendish, PEI.
I have quite moved away from formal book reviews on this blog, as I enjoy discussing books and how I relate to them more than dictating and criticizing plot points. Be that as it may, before I get to my personal connection with this story, I have to touch on a few points about Miss Fisbanes unique writing style:
This book is semi historical fiction, so most of the events and characters are real, merely with some artistic liberties tossed in. There are many excerpts from Maud Montgomery's personal journals, as well as clippings from articles and essays she had done for various papers and magazines. Melanie did a wonderful job of incorporating the true events with the fictional, taking care not to cause any of the characters to do things outside of their real life personalities. Maud experiences two major romances throughout the course of this novel, and while little is known about the nature of those relationships, the author took care to make them as realistic as possible. No terribly over dramatic dialogue or rapturous confessions that would seem rather unnatural both for their ages and personalities. When you read this book, it feels a lot like an L.M.M novel, encapsulating her style and person perfectly.
Now while reading this book, I instantly became acquainted with Maud, but not the same way I did when I read House of Dreams. In this book, Maud starts out as a fourteen year old- her ideals are naive, sweet and positive, much like my outlook on life was when I was in my early teens. She and I wrote about many of the same things in our journals, such as trying to describe things in different ways and writing about the boys we had crushes on. Any romantically minded young woman could surely relate to her mentality, but her being a writer is what truly makes me feel connected to her.
She proclaims many opinions throughout this book that I don't necessarily agree with, such as her believing that her career is more important than marrying the man she loves. But even in the moments that I didn't agree with her, I fully understood her perspective on such matters. Being a career woman in the Victorian era was extremely difficult and frowned upon by most, and if such a woman were to marry, they would be socially expected to quit working. Many would have regarded Maud's writing as odd for a woman to indulge in anyway, let alone if she were to continue to do so past marriage. She would risk losing respect from her neighbors, and her audience; It was even stated in House of Dreams that her eventual husband was angry that she didn't change her pen name to her married name. So though I didn't agree with her choice of career over love, I wholly understood and respected it.
What truly drew me into this book though, as well as further into Maud Montgomery's kinship, was how often she consulted her diary. Whenever she was upset or happy, the first thing she did was write in her diary, sometimes for hours on end, until she was able to face the world again.
Journaling your feelings is something most writers cling to. For the majority of us it is the only way to express our feelings wholly. But Maud was obsessive with her diary. In many ways, it was her closest friend. And that is something I completely relate to and appreciated seeing in a story.
I've told my journal just as much as I've said in my prayers; very personal and delicate matters, lamentations and happy jubilations that I have a difficult time expressing to others. It is an extended piece of myself, something that Maud Montgomery had in common with her own diary. Clearly Melanie Fishbane related to this aspect of Maud's authoress mindset, for her to so strongly include her journal in the story.
I could go on and on about how much I relate to Lucy Maud Montgomery, her personality and outlook on life. But I think it's safe to say that any fan of her books feels this way. For those of us who are fans and writers, it's felt even moreso. And I believe if you read Maud, you will come away feeling forever connected to this beloved author.
Have you read Maud? How did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!