Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery's Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916-1941

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery's Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916-1941

Article excerpt

Hildi Froese Tiessen and Paul Gerard Tiessen, After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery's Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916-1941 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 320pp. Cased. £40. ISBN 0-8020-3607-4. Paper. £22.50. ISBN 0-8020-8459-1.

Clichés often contain a nugget of truth, and the saying 'opposites attract' is certainly borne out by this new collection of fourteen letters from Lucy Maud Montgomery to her penfriend Ephraim Weber. On paper, the friendship seems improbable. Raised in a rural Mennonite community, Weber was a high-school teacher with a highly idealised view of a writer's mission and a fervent but unrealised desire to succeed in the craft. With her experience as the creator of the 'Anne' series, Montgomery was more realistic about the practicalities of writing as a profession; she well knew the pressure to keep publishers happy through pot-boilers, and the hurt dealt out by petty reviewers. Even on the very few occasions on which they met, difference rather than similarity marked their relationship. In fact, Montgomery made no bones about her disappointment with the 'uninteresting' Weber in the flesh (p. 19). Nonetheless, between 1902 and 1941 they sustained a correspondence that provided encouragement and intellectual stimulation lacking in their day-to-day family lives and social circles. As Montgomery recorded in her journals, letter-writing overcame inhibition, offering a chance for the expression of 'our real selves without fear of conventions' (p. 19).

Weber's side of the correspondence is largely lost; it exists only in extracts and unpublished paraphrases prepared by his literary executor. However, Montgomery's letters to Weber are extant. Those dating from 1905-9 have already been published, and this new volume takes the correspondence to its conclusion a few months before Montgomery's death. …

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