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Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  582 ratings  ·  91 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 ...more
Hardcover, 684 pages
Published October 3rd 2008 by Doubleday Canada
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May 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
It has been almost ten years or so since I first read (or more to the point with much perusing joy quite literally devoured) Mary Henley Rubio's superb biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery. And while I will always consider Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings very much a personal favourite, I also and definitely will need to in detail reread in order to post a considerably longer and more substantial review (or rather I should say, a review which I would personally consider adequate and ...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
Serenity Bohon
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Exceptionally well written.
Beth Bonini
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
”All the stories that Maud told were essentially variations on her own personal narrative - those of young girls and women trying to find a home and a life where there is love, approval, and respect.”

To be fair to biographer Mary Henley Rubio, I believed (after reading The Gift of Wings) that she knows about as much as it is possible to know about Lucy Maud Montgomery - a writer beloved by so many generations of readers. After reading her extensive Introduction, not to mention 600 pages of
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good grief, is this a good biography. Meticulously researched, willing to examine Montgomery’s journals skeptically and using outside sources to verify or question them, with endnotes just as fascinating as the text, this is a caring, careful, thorough look at Montgomery’s life. Is is clear that the author’s research, beginning in the late 70s and early 80s and continuing through the biography’s publication, and her incredible work co-editing Montgomery’s journals made this piece of a ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 marked it as to-read
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
Oct 18, 2008 marked it as to-read
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
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well researched and informative book on the life of L.M. Montgomery. It was fascinating to read all of the things she was going through while writing some of her most beloved books. She lived a tough and heartbreaking life. The issues I did have with the book though were some things the author seemed to try to really sensationalize and when talking about the books themselves, spoilers were given. Which was unexpected and a bummer considering I have not read all of the books yet. I ...more
Cari Skuse
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
This was an outstanding and well researched biography of LMM. However, I have two issues with this book:

1. I read this with my friend Jamie and she has not read all of LMM's books yet and the author gave spoilers to ALL LMM's books! It was okay for me because I have read them all but it annoyed me for Jamie's sake and for all the other people out there who may read this bio and may not have read all LMM's books.

2. I did not like how the author tried to make sensationalize (and I'm stealing this
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
Moira Russell
Nov 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.)
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved Anne of Green Gables and wondered about L.M. Montgomery, I was happy when I found this biography. I did not realize what a life she led. Professionally and privately. She was fascinating.
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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!
Aug 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A great look at the life and tragic death of LM Montgomery - I would suggest that people read this after having read at least part, if not all, of Maud's private journals, to get the entire picture.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
"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
Marion Abbott
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s heartbreaking to try and reconcile the absolute joy and delight Maud’s writing has brought to my life, and the endlessly depressing facts that were her life.

I’m so grateful to Ms Rubio for this incredible work of research and her tactful handling of so many sensitive details.

I’m forever sad that one of my hero’s endured so much heartache.

M. Arbon
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really excellent, well-researched, perceptive, compassionate biography.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mary BG
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
4.5 stars. A definitive reference for LM Montgomery enthusiasts and probably more informative than the author's own journals. Prior to reading this I did not realize so much is known about LMM or that she was so prolific a writer. This 600 page volume contains a surprising amount of detail, all meticulously researched, and negates the vague assumptions I started with as to what kind of person likely wrote the "sunny" story, Anne of Green Gables. I wasn't expecting this reality.

Despite some data
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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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