MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Melanie Fishbane, Penguin Teen, April 25, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
If you grew up in the 1980s, there’s a strong chance you also grew up with the miniseries Anne of Green Gables starring Megan Follows. For many, the miniseries was an introduction to a headstrong redhead with a passion for romance and education. But before the movie, came the book. And before the book, came the author — Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Maud, by Melanie Fishbane, is a historical fiction YA novel based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s teenage years. The book opens when Maud is 14 years old. Maud dreams of college and becoming an author like Louisa May Alcott, but she worries those dreams will never come to fruition. Maud’s grandparents are strict, and her grandfather thinks women belong at home.
Things begin to look up for Maud, though, when the new schoolteacher sees potential and encourages Maud to reach beyond social norms. Maud has her friends, too, including Nate, the Baptist minister’s stepson and the smartest boy in the class. Nate’s friendship is beginning to evolve into something more. The only problem — Maud’s Presbyterian grandparents would never approve.
When Maud’s father suggests she might come to live with him in the West, Maud is elated, and her grandparents see it as a good way to get some distance and perspective.
Life in the West is certainly different than Maud’s dear Prince Edward Island. Maud’s excitement is soon tempered by her stepmother’s plans for Maud’s future, and the sub-par education she receives in the town’s high school. Through it all, though, Maud finds friendship and another chance at love.
Though Maud is a fictional account of L.M. Montgomery’s life, author Melanie Fishbane worked hard to maintain as much of the historical integrity as her narrative would allow.
I found myself utterly immersed in Maud, finding small moments in which to read just a few more pages. Melanie’s characterization of Maud made her as real as if she were the girl living next door. I finished the book feeling as if I really knew who L.M. Montgomery was.
I finished Maud wanting more. I really want Melanie to write a follow-up. You hear that Melanie? I want a follow-up! I also left the book wanting to not only know more about L.M. Montgomery but to also read more of her books — some of which I’ve never heard of. Bookstore here I come!
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