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Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  743 ratings  ·  135 reviews
Published in the U.S. as Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L. M. Montgomery and Her Literary Classic.

By any standards, Lucy Maud Montgomerys Anne of Green Gables is a stunning success. Published in 1908 (and not once out of print), Anne has sold more than 50 million copies, been translated into more than 17 languages (including Braille), and become the focus o
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Key Porter Books (first published 2007)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  743 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Oct 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Looking For Anne is the story of how the beloved children's book Anne Of Green Gables was written. The author has searched through Montgomery's personal and family correspondence, court documents, journals and popular publications of the era to piece together Lucy Maud Montgomery's life experiences leading up to and during the writing of her most famous novel and presents it here as the solution to the "mystery" of Anne.

I didn't enjoy this book at all until I was at least three quarters of the w
I was really fascinated with this book about L.M. Montgomery and the creation of Anne Shirley, one of literatures most beloved heroines. After reading this book I was not at all surprised to read the recent news article written about L.M. Montgomery's suicide. A quote from the article, written by Montgomery's granddaughter, "Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has ...more
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
While I found much of the information fascinating, the author tended to jump around too much (and make mention of that - "more on this will be covered in the next chapter"). I felt like the author also assumed we had information we may not have (references to Maud's unhappy marriage, which I hadn't necessarily been informed of before). And some of the information was repetitive (I think we were told at least four or five times that Maud consistently misspelled her husband's name Ewan (not Ewen) ...more
Mar 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be more biography than odd "let's match the scene in the Anne books to an actual event in LM's life". Seriously, she goes through every little incident in her life and says "X was the Gilbert in her life..." - "she liked red hair because of Y", like down to the kind of dress Anne wears to the concert in White Sands and how it is the same material as the dress L.M wore to a wedding once. While I admire the authors zeal and hunt for odd facts - not useful to the casual, or eve ...more
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of L.M. Montgomery
A fascinating study of an author and her much beloved creation. Professor Gammel delves into previously unpublished materials, including private journals and correspondence, to shed new light on L.M. Montgomery's creative process, and the wide variety of influences that culminated in the creation of the character Anne Shirley.

This book is a sympathetic, insightful, and entertaining exploration. Part biography, part literary analysis, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. Highly r
There were a few interesting things in here, but the author definitely thinks too highly of herself and her research, and the conclusions she drew were very weak. Not convincing at all. It did make me want to go read a real biography of Montgomery, though.
Lindley Walter-smith
This was a bit of a curate's egg. There are some fascinating insights here, and I especially enjoyed the exploration of Montgomer's passionate relationships with otehr girls and women combined with her sexual coldness towards young men she was supposed to be in love with - that genuinely brings the friendships in the books into new light. It was also fascinating - and really mind-mending - to see what Anne "really" looked like, the pictures of the model who inspired her, who is absolutely nothin ...more
Sep 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really disappointed in this book. Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books as a child, but I came away from this book having little respect for L. M. Montgomery, who is portrayed as insecure and needy. At the same time, I'm not convinced that was her true personality. I feel that Irene Gammel overanalyzed her primary sources to write this biography and that she made claims about Montgomery's influences with little more evidence than, "this magazine was delivered to her house and s ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Some fascinating details on L.M. Montgomery's life, but way too much conjecture on the supposed origins of Anne and other characters. I don't think Gammel gives LMM enough credit as an imaginative writer; not every nuance of her characters need necessarily have been drawn from life!

The way this book is organized is rather disjointed; I found it hard to follow at times, as it was like a collection of vignettes, not necessarily chronologically arranged. Too many side tangents, and the author wande
Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L.M. Montgomery by Irene Gammel.
St. Martin’s Press, 2008 0312382375

Gammel focuses on the writing of Montgomery's most famous book, uncovering sources, tracing parallels between Maud and Anne, and considering the ways in which Anne served as an alter-ego who was loved, unlike Maud, and was able to be freer than Maud ever could. She also discusses Montgomery's personal life -- her unsatisfactory family relations, her passions for other girls and then
Jun 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The author does a little too much crowing about telling the "never-before-told story!!!" of this or that aspect of the book, and then the story sometimes ends up being, well...not all that interesting or based on slightly tenuous evidence. Like, congratulations on your diligent research in early 20th century periodicals, author, but it isn't particularly relevant that the picture LMM alleged was the inspiration for Anne's face was actually of a New York model notorious for her role in a murder t ...more
Sep 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book a little silly. First of all, I disagree with the author that the origins of Anne of Green Gables are such a mystery. Secondly, Irene Gammel's prose style got on my nerves -- I think she was striving to write like LMM herself, in a passionate, sensitive, nature-loving way, and the result is just overwrought. It was interesting that she identified the photo the LMM clipped from a magazine, and said was her inspiration for Anne, as Evelyn Nesbit, but I just don't find this as mom ...more
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Told me some interesting facts about how the story came about, but the author too often describes her own conclusions as "stunning" and "important," not letting me judge for myself as the reader.
Gracelyn Buckner
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 Stars

ⓐⓥⓡⓔⓔ ☞ The Bookish Blonde
This Book May Not Be For Everyone But The True Appreciator of “Anne of Green Gables”!

3.5 ⭐

For those who have been truly transformed or even remotely shaped by the character of Anne of “Anne of Green Gables” will definitely find pleasure in this book.

I will start with the positives and end with the negatives...

What a treasure trove of learning what parts of the famous story were as a result of Maud’s own personal experiences, magazine articles and short stories she collected, family members, ne
Sheryl Tribble
Gammel has a weirdly adversarial view of Maud Montgomery. She’s always implying that Montgomery is lying or dishonest about this or that; for instance, when she says that Maud said she thought women ought to be able to vote, but added the quote that Maud “did not think [suffrage] would effect as great a change as both the champions and adversaries seemed to think, and therefore she confessed that ‘it does not seem to me worth while to worry about it.’” Gammel calls this answer “opportunistic” an ...more
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

As anyone who looks at my shelves knows, I don’t often read non-fiction. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a biography before beginning this one. However, when I was looking through the library at my new town I happened to end up in the nonfiction section by sheer coincidence. As I was about to turn around this yellow book caught my attention and I stopped to look at it. I love Anne of Green Gables but have rarely thought much of its author. I battled
Natalie Waddell-Rutter
An interesting book that is something for the die-hard Anne fan to read. I did enjoy learning more about Maud’s life and literary career (she started in short stories published in magazines). I also enjoyed learning more about the life of women in the early 1900s. Maud pulled inspiration from everything from fashion to the poetry of the day to her gardens to her physical surroundings. It does make me want to go to Prince Edward Island for a visit. The book contains three sections of photographs ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This wasn't a perfect book. I believe the author made some interesting connections between L.M. Montgomerey's experiences and literary influences and Anne of Green Gables, but since there is almost no hard evidence about the writing of Anne, in some cases her speculations feel like a stretch. I also felt the book suffered a bit from spots of purple prose. (A sentence like "Grandmother's reserve could be like the icy wind that blew across the Atlantic during the long winter of 1905" would be unde ...more
I felt like the author spent most of her time speculating, based on circumstantial evidence, on what probably influenced Maud Montgomery while she was writing ANNE. For instance, she would say things like "this story was in this magazine which Maud most likely read, so it MUST have had an influence on her!" She also explored various friends and family members and their influence on the writing of ANNE.

And although the author more or less goes chronologically through the period in which ANNE was
Beth E
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me with how much I liked it and yet some aspects bugged me.

I did like how it goes into great detail of L. M. Montgomery's life and dissects every detail related to the Anne books. However, sometimes details and events were presented out of order and the book seemed to jump around a fair bit. Some of the details seemed forced, particularly the detail that was given about Evelyn Nesbit, whose photograph inspired some inspiration for Anne.

I also would have liked more informati
Dichotomy Girl
This was actually quite an interesting book, as I knew very little about the author of the classic Anne of Green Gables. This is not a complete biography, but only a snapshot of the people, places and events in the author's life that contributed to the creation of Anne.

One thing I definitely would not have guessed it what a sad, unfortunate life the author lived, but I guess she channeled all the happy endings she wished for into her writings.

This book probably would not appeal to anyone who is
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This work is well-researched, and the author clearly cares about preserving the personality and work of L.M. Montgomery. However, I find the writing style overly sensational, and I strongly disagree with a few of Irene Gammel's conclusions. She reads far too much eroticism into L.M. Montgomery's life and writing, and she disregards any moral motivation in any of her major life decisions, preferring to call it culturally conditioned. I wish that someone had introduced her to the distinction betwe ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story-behind-the-story of Anne. Interesting, but maybe I'm too many years behind, as none of the revelations were new to me, and parts were repetitive. Perhaps I would have preferred longer excerpts from the "spark" pieces? This was certainly a huge scholastic labor, combing through manuscripts and magazines and photos and the books themselves to see what Montgomery was combining. I think the research must have been vastly fascinating.
Judine Brey
While I found much of the information fascinating, the author tended to jump around too much for the biography to make linear sense. She also seemed to assume that we had information we may not have had.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Did I even know there was a mystery here? No, but then again, I know next to nothing about LM Montgomery (she was married?!). But this book is fascinating and highly readable, I finished it over three evenings. And the pictures are amazing!
sacha kenton
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
did you know anne of green gables was a lesbian? makes perfect sense...
Laura Hodgins
The book had a really slow start--largely because there was so much conjecture going on. It took me a good month to read the first third because I just kept getting so bored, and I finished the last two thirds in a day. Once Gammel actually started to do work on Anne of Green Gables and its sequels, she really proved herself adept at managing literary criticism with a lens of author intentionality. At times (assuming that several stories written about Anns/Annes during L.M. Montgomery's life tim ...more
This book had an interesting conceit: how was one of the most beloved characters in literature created? It’s something we all wonder of our favorites, but for Anne Shirley fans we don’t have much to go on, since Montgomery was notoriously guarded in her personal legacy. Irene Gammel decided to find out what influences may have inspired Montgomery to create Anne, and the results that Gammel produces are a bit mixed.

This was published in 2008 as part of the centenary celebration of the publicatio
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Irene Gammel is a literary historian, biographer, and curator. Gammel teaches at Ryerson University in Toronto. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture and is the Director of the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre.

Gammel holds a PhD (1992) and MA (1987) in English from McMaster University, and a Staatsexamen’s degree from the Universität des Saarlandes in Ge