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Review of House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery

House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery
by Liz Rosenberg; illus. by Julie Morstad
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    339 pp.    g
6/18    978-0-7636-6057-4    $17.99

The author best known for Anne of Green Gables left behind extensive letters and journals; Rosenberg has gathered information from these and other sources to create a detailed narrative that allows Montgomery’s personality to come through. Readers will find context for where beloved books fit into Montgomery’s career trajectory, as well as plenty of anecdotes that will sound familiar, since the author borrowed liberally from life in her fiction. But House of Dreams is frank about aspects of Montgomery’s life that didn’t make it into her books: legal disputes with her publisher, a dalliance with one man while she was engaged to another, and struggles with her family’s mental health and her own, including the circumstances of her death, which may have been suicide. Rosenberg reads between the lines of her subject’s records, noting Montgomery’s father’s flaws and grandmother’s sacrifices even as Montgomery herself glosses over them. Morstad’s ink line drawings illustrating Montgomery’s life would be right at home in an Anne book, capturing a meaningful glance at classmate Gilbert Nate at an idyllic picnic or a young woman writing dreamily while ignoring a broom. A well-balanced biography that offers plenty of tidbits for fans and that acknowledges what Montgomery means to many, without overly romanticizing the author or her story. Appended with a timeline, source notes, and a bibliography.

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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