Don’t Judge a Book…

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We’ve all heard it. Don’t judge a book by its cover. And yet we all do it anyway. We DO judge books by their covers! Whether we think we do or not.

Whenever I hear this phrase, my mind immediately goes to a particular book. Which book?

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame).

bluecastle.jpgI probably first read it when I was about 11 or 12 years old. This was the copy at our local library… (see image to your right.)

It was really and truly the UGLIEST book cover I had ever seen. It was so ugly, I did NOT want to read this book. So what if was by my favourite author!

Ugh! That cover.

But then, somehow, I did bring the book home.

And I did read it.

And… Well…

I loved it.

And you know what? Years later, my friends and I were discussing this book. (We all love this book!) And we discovered that we ALL had the same experience. (Being from the same small town, we all went to the same library.) We all hated the cover of this book! And we all didn’t want to read the book BECAUSE of the ugly, ugly cover. And finally, we all did read the book, in spite of the cover. And we all fell in love with it.

P.S. Now I look at the book cover and think to myself, it’s not quite as ugly as I remember. In fact, it’s bringing back fond memories. Nostalgic memories. I’m finding I rather like this book cover… now.

Do you consider the book cover above to be ugly? Would you pick it up to read? Let me know in the comments!

How about THESE covers? Which one catches your eye? (I really like the simplicity of the first one!)

 

BONUS: Have you read The Blue Castle? If so, feel free to gush about it in the comments!

P.S. The photo at the top of this blog post is my first-edition, hard back copy of The Blue Castle. Which I love! It’s falling apart, but that is partly what gives it its charm. (And there’s a bit of a story of how I got it. But perhaps that’s for a future post…)

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What Shall I Call Thee?

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Growing up, one of my best friends would often refer to our favourite authors by their first names. (In fact, she still does it today.) And, by extension, any book by said author. So an L.M. Montgomery book would become a “Lucy Maud” … As in “Have you read this Lucy Maud?” (Later she’d shortened it to simply “Lucy”.)

And I’ve noticed that this with other people as well, typically regarding women writers. Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder are “Louisa” and “Laura”. Jane Austen fans even have their own special designation as “Janeites”.

But why do we call authors by their first name? Is it because it makes these authors feel more like our friends? Well, that’s my guess.

But, I’m different. For me, it’s important to use the author’s name under which they published. So “Lucy Maud Montgomery” is written or spoken of as “L.M. Montgomery”. And thereafter, in the same conversation or article, just as “Montgomery”.  (Which becomes a slight problem if we’re talking about the Brontes!)

I think this may stem from this realization… Authors are people that have private lives. For example, “Lucy Maud” was never really called “Lucy” (her grandmother’s name) in her lifetime. Her family and friends called her “Maud”. And for most of her published life, she was “Mrs. Macdonald”. And yet, she published under the name “L.M. Montgomery”.

For me, that knowledge is enough. “L.M. Montgomery” she would be.

So, while C.S. Lewis was “Jack” to his friends, he was “C.S. Lewis” to me because that’s how I knew him.

And then there’s Jane Austen. I’m definitely a fan, but for some reason, I cannot (and will not) call myself a “Janeite”. I will not call her “Jane”.

I think, for me, it’s a respect thing. Respecting the work of the author. Respecting the boundaries between an author and the reader. Although, when my friend does the opposite? I find it endearing. It’s like Jane Austen really is her friend!

So, what’s that say about me? Hmm…

P.S. I don’t think there’s really a right or wrong side to this. But it interests me to find out where other people stand. What do you tend to do?

P.S. 2 – If you’re curious to know… The photo above is of a statue of “Lucy Maud” at the L.M. Montgomery Museum in Leaskdale, Ontario.

Visiting L.M. Montgomery

20170824ma_4688I love taking a pilgrimage to the historic homes of authors. Almost any author will do, but, there’s always something special about visiting the houses where my favourite authors lived. And especially where they wrote my favourite books!

This is certainly true for L.M. Montgomery.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to visit an L.M. Montgomery site, you pretty much had to go to P.E.I. While we all know of her love for the Island, the fact is that Montgomery lived half of her life in Ontario. (Yay!) And it is only recently that her home in Leaskdale, Ontario was acquired and turned into a museum.

And I must say that they’ve done a lovely job!

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This is the manse where she and her husband moved after their marriage. This is where her children were born. And this is where she wrote many of her books… Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rilla of Ingleside, The Blue Castle, just to name a few.

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And here’s the room where she wrote her books! She’d sit in the corner and write her manuscript out by hand. When she was writing, nobody was supposed to disturb her. Not even her two young sons. In fact, the door was locked. If they wanted to communicate with their mother, they had to slip a note under the door!

My friend asked the young man who was giving us the tour about whether there’s a story about the fur on the ground. He replies, “No, there’s no story. But it’s there because we know she had one like it in this room.” My friend smiles and says, “Well, that’s a story.”

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Apparently she had 1000 books lining the walls of the study. The museum doesn’t have quite so many books, but they have been collecting books that she would have owned and placed them in these wonderful book shelves. (Bonus: Can you see me playing peek-a-boo in the glass?)

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Her wedding china. (Well, not actually hers, but it is her pattern.)

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The kitchen. Recognize the set-up from the old black and white photo?

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And here is her bedroom. The cedar-lined chest is one of the few pieces of furniture that actually belonged to her. L.M. Montgomery.

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Her husband’s church. This is the congregation he pastored after their marriage in 1911. The Macdonalds lived here until 1926 which is when he went to his next parish in Norval, Ontario.

And guess what? They’re working on restoring the Norval manse, too!

Oh, the joy of expectation 🙂