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Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  398 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Mary Henley Rubio has spent over two decades researching Montgomery’s life, and has put together a comprehensive and penetrating picture of this Canadian literary icon, all set in rich social context. Extensive interviews with people who knew Montgomery – her son, maids, friends, relatives, all now deceased – are only part of the material gathered in a journey to understan ...more
Paperback, 684 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Anchor Canada (first published October 3rd 2008)
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When I was 20 I stumbled upon the first volume of L.M. Montgomery's published journals in the stacks of my college library. As a long-time fan of Anne of Green Gables and other old favorites by Montgomery, I eagerly checked it out. At the time I was living in a romantic garret in an old house, an attic with sloping roofs on which the rain would drum cozily at night, with a row of windows overlooking the back of the house where a hill sloped steeply down to a creek, giving me a view of an ever-ch ...more
It has been almost eight years since I read (or more to the point devoured) Mary Henley Rubio's superb biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery, and while I will always consider it a personal favourite, I also and definitely need to reread in order to post an adequate review (or rather, a review, I consider adequate, and sufficiently honouring of both author and subject). For now, and until I have the energy and required time to accomplish this, all I can say is that Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of W ...more
Maria Elmvang
Very interesting biography. However, unfortunately not quite as unbiased as I'd hoped to see from somebody who's done SUCH extensive research on her subject matter (of course I understand no biography can ever be completely unbiased... I guess "neutral" is a better word).

My initial impression was that I was glad I'd read the journals before reading this. First of all, there were events Rubio skimmed over very quickly, where I was glad to have a bit more background information than the biography
Jan 15, 2015 Rikke rated it really liked it
Beautiful. Exceptionally well written.
Feb 10, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exerpted from my review "Magic Island and The Gift of Wings," Elizabeth Waterston and Mary Rubio. (Dual Book Review). Children’s Literature 38 (Spring 2010): 254-259.

"Rubio’s The Gift of Wings is not the first biography of Montgomery, but it is the most detailed and authoritative one to date. Montgomery penned her own brief memoir, The Alpine Path, which originated in 1917 as a series of articles for Everywoman’s World. Mollie Gillen’s The Wheel of Things (1975) broke ground as the first modern
Jan 15, 2010 Jan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Melissa recommends:

Though not for the faint of heart (the size alone is enough to scare plenty of people off), this is one heck of a biography.
I admit it: I've been reading books by and about Montgomery since elementary school. I am a Big Fan. So, when I picked this book up, I was expecting a well-written, thorough biography, but I wasn't really expecting to learn anything new. Oops. I have new respect for LMM's grandmother, more sympathy for Ewan, can never look at my Page editions of her book
Oct 18, 2008 Rosemary marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have just ordered this from Amazon Canada as it is not available yet at Amazon US. This is the long awaited biography, long in the making and longer in anticipation.

Maud Montgomery is my favorite authoress-storyteller.
She was a prolific Canadian writer and world famous with her publication of "Anne of Green Gables" in the early 1900's. Because her works are of a buoyantand uplifting nature, it was a great shock to learn that her life was a burden of tragedies from end to end.

Did Maud end her o
Aug 31, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want their illusions destroyed
Shelves: roughstuff
Whoooboy. This is one of the best biographies I've ever read, but did it send me into a downward spiral. After reading all of Maud's journals, I was determined to fill in the gaps. Rubio's account did not disappoint. Not only did she do some impressive detective work, interviewing old associates of Montgomery, but she adds her own astute observations about the writer throughout this account. Montgomery's incredible talent, wit and intelligence is counterbalanced with snobbery, denial and self-pi ...more
Serenity Bohon
Heartbreaking, absolutely beautiful and well-researched biography about a woman whose writing I have said changed my life. I was thrilled to read that is exactly what many of her fans would say. For me, the big unanswered question remains, how could she save us that way when she couldn't save herself? It's a sobering look at what we can do with our art, what we must do, really. We give all we can, we give the best of us - no matter what we get in return. Outside of my personal obsession with L.M ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margaret by: Moira Russell
This isn't as good as the biography I read before it (Hermione Lee's Virginia Woolf, which I think is going to be my gold standard for a while), but it's an admirable biography. Rubio co-edited Montgomery's journals for publication, and her in-depth knowledge of Montgomery provides an amazing level of detail and an ability to weigh the contents of Montgomery's journals (rewritten extensively by Montgomery to convey her preferred version of her life) with other sources to paint a fuller picture. ...more
Cari Skuse
Feb 03, 2010 Cari Skuse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read all of the published journals of L.M. Montgomery, and I wanted to know more of the back story. This book delivers. So many of the questions that I had were answered about the people in Maud's life.I hated for this book to end! The end of Maud's life was truly sad and brought tears to my eyes.
For any one that wants to know more about Lucy Maud Montgomery, this is a must read.
Anne Edmunds
Very thorough, very well written and interesting rendering of an extremely depressing and disappointed life. I recommend this one highly. Just take your antidepressants first.
Sep 10, 2009 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
So sad....the author basically says that LMM took her own life and it was covered up so her children wouldn't be embarrassed with their own careers.
Sherwood Smith
I'm reading this before handing it off to my daughter. We've both read the journals many times over, and discussed them endlessly. It is a relief to have some of the lacunae filled in, but at the same time there is a surprising sketchiness about portions of LMM's life that surprises me, and then a lot of dull repetitions of stuff like lists of earnings, etc, that could as well have been relegated to the small print in an appendix.

That aside, Rubio is one of the scholars most familiar with LMM's
Jan 24, 2009 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing biography about LM Montgomery. It is well-written and unbelievably well researched. But it is so sad! I felt haunted and disturbed by her story for at least two days after I finished this book. Ironically, even though Maud Montgomery was a dutiful and active minister's wife, she never once seemed to give a thought to the fact that the faith she served for so long might hold some truth, or comfort in the face of the misery she lived with. Mary Henley Rubio did an amazing job of ...more
Mar 23, 2009 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
"The Gift of Wings" is the biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known as being the author of Anne of Green Gables. The novel is not quite what I would call well written as it jumps around a bit, it is full of information - much of which was still not known about Maud and her life as there are many gaps in her journals, especially towards the end of her life. The story follows Maud from childhood until her tragic and still somewhat mysterious death in 1942 and also sums up the lives of those c ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Ana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Engaging from beginning to end. But I think she defends Ewan too much.
Moira Russell
Written by Mary Rubio, who co-edited all five volumes of LMM's Journals. Certainly not elegantly written (it's nothing like Judith Thurman's 'Isak Dinesen: Life of a Storyteller,' frex) and lacking in even rudimentary literary analyses of Montgomery's books/stories/poems, this is nevertheless a fascinating read. I can't put it down! Altho this biography was published before the revelation of Montgomery's suicide, there's plenty of corroborating evidence in the book for it. If you're at all a fan ...more
Jun 20, 2014 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"One cannot have imagination and the gift of wings, along with the placidity and contentment of those who creep on the earth's solid surface and never open their eyes on aught but material things. But the gift of wings is better than placidity and contentment after all."

This is a biography of a remarkable woman who managed to become one of the most successful authors of her time in spite of immense personal difficulty. I recently read The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set, which made me cu
Sep 22, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent follow-up to the journals. I am glad I read the journals first, though. I don't like it when biographers try to manufacture a love affair when there is NO evidence that it existed, however (not that I would begrudge Maud, I just don't think she allowed herself to be unfaithful to her husband, even mentally.)
Feb 01, 2016 Kerry rated it really liked it
I purchased this on the recommendation of the lady working at the book shop near the location Maud Montgomery's childhood home had been located on Prince Edward Island when we visted last autumn. Compiled from her many journals and over two decades of extensive research & interviews, this is a comprehensive (nearly 700 pages!), fascinating and constantly interesting book. She had an incredible memory, work ethic and skill to paint places & people into words. Her life was accomplished wit ...more
May 19, 2010 Janieb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, revealing a person, whose life contrasted so differently from the characters she portrayed in her books. Often wonder if Ewan's side of the story would have revealed a diametrically different version!
Rebecca Saxon
I’d recommend this 600+ page biography only to the most devoted L.M. Montgomery fans (like myself!) because, for example, I doubt many people would be interested in the details of where and when Montgomery had public speaking engagements. Now, I’ve also read the first 3 of her journal volumes which made the first half or so of the biography rather repetitive, although Rubio does include information not in Montgomery’s journals. She conducted extensive interviews and has done impeccable historica ...more
Though not for the faint of heart (the size alone is enough to scare plenty of people off), this is one heck of a biography.
I admit it: I've been reading books by and about Montgomery since elementary school. I am a Big Fan. So, when I picked this book up, I was expecting a well-written, thorough biography, but I wasn't really expecting to learn anything new. Oops. I have new respect for LMM's grandmother, more sympathy for Ewan, can never look at my Page editions of her books the same way agai
Katherine L
Jul 17, 2012 Katherine L rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Excellent biography of L. M. Montgomery that will please people who love her books!

I downloaded this book on my Nook, and raced through it in just a couple of days (without even entering it on Goodreads!), and then went back and read more slowly, re-reading some of my favorite Montgomery books as I went along. This book is an well-written and exhaustively researched biography, drawing on Montgomery's published journals, interviews with people who knew her, and newspaper/magazine articles, court
Erika RS
Oct 27, 2013 Erika RS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L.M. Montgomery, called Maud by those she was close to, was, of course, the author of Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon and many other books. During her life and for many decades after, she was seen as a woman who lived a fairly straightforward life, but as this biography shows, many of the darker depths of her novels reflect, directly or indirectly, the complex and often unhappy life she read.

Maud was a woman who felt things deeply -- both the positive and the negative -- and a woman who
Sep 22, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A riveting, well-researched 700+ page account that, being a long-time Anne fan, I couldn't help devouring in a few days. This is the only biography I've read of Montgomery's but seemingly the most comprehensive as it was written by one of the editors of her 10 volumes of journals. Rubio attempts to fill in many of the gaps and to include other perspectives on Montgomery's life, drawing upon interviews from two decades of research. Nevertheless, Montgomery was such a complex and mysterious figure ...more
This is fascinating - I am really getting the social and culture contexts of the LMM journals, which is great. It's also interesting to learn how much of the journals were created or re-written after the fact and what was left out or left in. (The Herman Leard incidents that so much are made of were apparently much dramatized by LMM?)

Learning more about Ewan's depression, LMM's obsession with World War I, and her own mental health issues is very insightful.

BUT. It's so depressing. The mental hea
Jun 23, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an insightful look into an author that I grew up loving. Maud had a very troubled personal life, but lived more comfortably than most. Maud had many admirers and fans that she rightfully earned with her captivating stories. However, she didn't earn the sophisticated literary criticism that she deserved- lots of people just dismissed her work as children's lit. As an aspiring female writer I really appreciated getting a look into Maud's writing methodology and learning about what mo ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this on Prince Edward Island. Well documented and well written biography.
LMM was a gifted writer, but the person behind her best known work is not Anne of Green Gables!
Interesting period piece: she was a minister's wife of some means, and was living in CA trying her best to straddle country & city life, during in a period of fast-changing traditions, options and morals.
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“Ewan was maladroit when it came to anything practical or mechanical. Still, he learned how to crank the car to start it, then hustle back to the driver’s seat very quickly to keep the motor from dying. His family grew accustomed to lurches when he tried to get the car moving forward without killing the motor. Like many other drivers at that time, he had trouble remembering that the car was not a horse, and if he needed to stop quickly, his first impulse was always to yank backwards on the steering wheel, as if he were holding the horse’s reins, and yell “Whoa! Whoa!” Some found this endearing, others found it funny, but his young sons found it very embarrassing.” 0 likes
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