Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne

My youngest received a boxed set of the Canadian classics: The Anne of Green Gables Series, for Christmas this year, and she just recently cracked it open. As the first book sat there on the couch, I smiled as I glanced through a few pages and read some of the infamous dialogue of the beloved “Anne”. Melodrama becomes the little orphaned girl who was supposed to be a boy helper. I was a big fan of the books when I was my daughter’s age, and was an even bigger fan of the 1985 Canadian television mini series starring Megan Follows.

Anne — with an “e” — is the delightful character created by Canadian author, Lucy Maude Montgomery. Her never ending chatter and imagination (and “horrid” red hair) won the hearts of many a young girl, and Montgomery’s novels became international best sellers. I’ve claimed her in this week’s muse, in honour of International Woman’s Day (recently celebrated back on March 8th). The research I discovered marks L.M. Montgomery as an even more interesting Victorian lady than I had once thought.

She was raised by her grandparents, and although her Anne books were very successful, she struggled with depression and angst. She seemed complicated… a spiritual woman who questioned her faith and the church, and was often angered at political agendas and the atrocities of war. Her journals and diaries contain her grief stricken outcries at things that she saw in the daily news, as well as in her own day to day duties. Her love life was confusing at best, and she although she seemed to follow the suit of marriage perfectly (as befitting the times and her strict Presbyterian upbringing) she did not seem happy in it. Her “fleshly” desires seemed to get the better of her and she longed for a bit more of the wild side.

Even her death seems somewhat of a mystery. The official books say she died of a blood clot in her heart, but there are rumours that her bouts of depression may have lead her to take her own life via a drug overdose. This complicated woman appears so far drawn from the character of Anne… the whimsical red-head that seemed so innocent despite her strong willed nature. But such is the escape of a good book, eh? Especially one that I am encouraging my youngest beloved to fall in love with ….

And so I muse about the complexity of this wonderful creation that God has given us as women. We are delicate and yet bold. We are strong and yet weak. We are certainly complex. I think of the short glimpses of the biblical women we see: Women like Mary, Esther, Ruth and the woman who wept at Jesus’s feet. The woman at the well, who questioned. Rahab who risked much to save others. These women lived in a time so unlike ours. They had no International Woman’s Day to celebrate their gender equality. They were the lowest of the low… and yet stood in honour in the eyes of their Saviour.

They were bold and courageous. Certainly, many were not perfect. In fact, most of them made some very poor life choices. But God used them mightily despite their gender — and despite their lot in life. He used them to move the events of time. To change history. To further His plans.

Perhaps, Lucy Maude Montgomery’s, Anne, is no real comparison to the biblical characters. Perhaps I have no business equating one story to another, but it did make me muse a bit about what makes women so special? Why does there seem to be a balance between fragility and boldness in the lives of women? Why do we fight to have gender rights when we already seem to have such a strong presence in this world already? Has Satan so deceived us (like he did Eve) with his smooth talking, leading us to believe that we are somehow less special to God and His plan for the world?

I really don’t have the answers. I’m just as complicated as the next chick. But for now, I will encourage my girls to delight in being daughters of the King, and to enjoy a good novel about a feisty little red-head, with a wild imagination, who gets into just a bit of mischief, and changes the lives of some people — simply by being who she was created to be.

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