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Fiction Club > August 2020 -- Writers and Authors

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message 1: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 03, 2020 12:00PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
For August 2020, the topic for the club will be middle grade fiction books about writers and authors and of course also the entire writing and authorship process. And like in the past few months, I am not going to focus on just one or two books but list a selection of books I am planning on reading and rereading (and to also encourage participants to post about novels they have read or a planning on reading that fit the topic).

My Best Friend the Suffragette
Emily of New Moon
Emily Climbs
Emily's Quest
Edwina Victorious
Harriet the Spy
Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance
Finding Grace
The Contest
Home Free as well as its companion book Connecting Dots
Little Women
Little Woman in Blue
Front Desk
Word After Word After Word
A Song for Harlem

Many of the Dear Canada series of fictional diaries also show diarists who specifically desire to be authors, like for example Orphan at My Door: The Home Child Diary of Victoria Cope, where Victoria clearly states that she wants to be a writer and that she is also using her diary to practice her craft, as well as If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, where Fiona is also a budding writer.


message 2: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
I am really looking forward to this topic and especially to rereading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon Trilogy but focussing primarily on how Emily Byrd Starr is depicted as wanting to become a writer and how Montgomery describes that process. And yes, I do think that I personally have always thought of Emily much more of a kindred spirit than Anne Shirley, and that is primarily because of Emily being much more introverted than Anne and while in every way as imaginative as Anne, much more quiet about this and much more prone to put her thoughts in writing and keep them to herself and her poetry, her Jimmy Books, her letters to her deceased father.


message 3: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
I wanted to add the wonderful Betsy-Tacy books to the list. Betsy is always interested in telling stories in the earlier books and this develops into a love of writing stories as she grows up. It wavers a bit here and there sometimes during her high school years, but it's always there, and she always comes back to writing as her true passion in life.


message 4: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (last edited Aug 22, 2020 04:37PM) (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6470 comments Mod
I'm probably not going to read much fiction for this. I've seen too many authors manage to somehow give a skewed notion of what it's really like to be a writer.


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 01, 2020 11:03AM) (new)

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Now I do find it rather ironic and really quite frustrating that there often is (and even in fiction, in deliberately made up and composed stories) quite a bit of serious negativity towards children who use their imagination to make up interesting but of course "untrue" stories, that in fact, these children are quite regularly considered not as budding story tellers and maybe even future authors but as primarily fibbers and liars, as making up horrid falsehoods (and this even in cases where the children are obviously not at all expecting their tales to be believed but just telling tales for the joy of making up stories).


message 6: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 01, 2020 11:01AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I'm probably not going to read much fiction for this. I've seen too many authors manage to somehow give a skewed notion of what it's really like to be a writer. I'll be trying to find some memoirs,..."

I would though if you can spare or find the time, recommend the Emily of New Moon novels, as they are very much autobiographical with regard to how L.M. Montgomery ended up becoming a writer and that process, spread through the three books is reallly quite interesting as well as enlightening.


message 7: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1886 comments I love the Betsy-Tacy series! I relate a lot to Betsy.

I have read many books in this category.

middle grade fiction books about writers

Nobody's Secret about Emily Dickinson

Little Women Next Door about Louisa May Alcott
Becoming Little Women: A Novel about Louisa May at Fruitlands
Fruitlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect

Little Farm in the Ozarks Little House Rose years about Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane

Zora and Me about Zora Neale Hurston

The Man Who Was Poe fictional but I loved the local connection and I still hope to run into Poe's ghost at the subscription library some day.


message 8: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1886 comments Other books about writers/writing

Dear America/Dear Canada/My Name is America
Young American Voices by Marissa Moss
Amelia's Notebook series Amelia's Notebook also by Marissa Moss
American Girl Kit series
Betsy-Tacy series
Anne of Green Gables series (although she gives it up after she's married, Walter is a poet)
Little Women/ Littler Women: A Modern Retelling
The Silver Pencil
Dear Sweet Pea (advice column writer)
The Penderwicks series (Jane is a writer)
P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail, No More(pen-pal letter writers)
Megan McDonald's Sister's Club series (Joey's notebook entries and scripts... this series is a loose update of Little Women)
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone features Mary Shelley before her marriage and writing career
Elsie Mae Has Something to Say by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (letter writing campaign)
A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young
Love from Your Friend, Hannah(letters to Pres. FDR Roosevelt)
Rachel's Hope
A True and Faithful Narrative
Letters from Rifka
Letters from the Corrugated Castle: A Novel of Gold Rush California, 1850-1852
Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs


message 9: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6470 comments Mod
I have read Emily of New Moon and the Betsy-Tacy books. I did find that there's a writing theme in a book I was hoping to get to this month anyway, Daphne's Book, so there's that. And not too long ago I read a The Country Artist: A Story About Beatrix Potter which I gave four stars. My review:

"The publisher has a good reputation, and there is a six item bibliography. This was such an engaging read it seemed almost as if it twisted the truths, but I don't think it did. It may have left some things out, but it's very short, and aimed at 7-9 year old children, so of course it did. I enjoyed the narrative bio and the illustrations very much. I liked learning that Potter was a brave woman, in some respects a feminist."


message 10: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I have read Emily of New Moon and the Betsy-Tacy books. I did find that there's a writing theme in a book I was hoping to get to this month anyway, Daphne's Book, so there's that. An..."

I should try to finally get to the Betsy-Tacy books, they have been on my to-read shelf since forever (but yes, I only found out about them after joining GR in 2009).

And even though I have read the Emily of New Moon trilogy multiple times, I have not really read them particularly with regard to how Emily's development as a writer is depicted (oh I have acknowledged this, but this time around, I am going to be for the most part focussing on Emily as a developing writer and how this also seems to kind of be similar to L.M. Montgomery's own career).


message 11: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 03, 2020 11:02AM) (new)

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Now I do not know how easily the Gutsy Girls series (from Second Story Press) are available in the USA, but I can and do highly recommend all of the books in the series. And yes, while writing and authorship are not the only focus in these books, they do play very large and significant roles. All of the protagonists write, all of them are readers and many also love love love Lucy Maud Montgomery (and yes, writing is seen as both a way to express oneself and also kind of as therapy, to get one's innermost thoughts out on paper and out of one's soul).

The Contest (about an Anne of Green Gables Contest and I absolutely adore the local Hamilton, Ontario sense of place)

Finding Grace (set in 1950s British Columbia, with Hope writing letters to her imaginary friend Grace and later finding out that Grace is actually her twin sister who had been given up for adoption by the mother when she, when Grace contracted polio)

Home Free (love Lee's voice and that she totally wants to become a writer and how she has to fight for this because her mother is not at all in agreement with this, set in the 1960s and again with L.M. Montgomery making a huge appearance as a favourite author and as a writer to emulate)

Connecting Dots (the companion book to Home Free and in my opinion actually a bit better and certainly really heartbreaking as Cass is encouraged by Lee to write out her life story, and yes, a tale of abuse, neglect and pain emerges, but also of hope and of Cass realising that writing things out does make her feel better and gets rid of some of her trauma and feelings of anger and cynicism)

And I really really do highly recommend all four books. They are indeed wonderful and give their readers not only delightful (even if sometimes heartbreaking) stories and they all have great senses of place and for the novels set in the fifties and sixties of time.


message 12: by Manybooks (new)

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Not sure (since it is about Louisa May Alcott’s sister May, who is an artist and the blueprint for Amy March in Little Women) if Jeannine Atkins’ novel Little Woman in Blue totally fits the topic, but since it does supposedly feature how May Alcott reacts towards Little Women I am going to be adding it, and thus far, the novel has been delightful and I sure hope this continues to be the case for me.


message 13: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1886 comments I've never heard of the Gutsy Girls series. We don't get many Canadian children's books this far south of the border and I don't recall visiting any bookstores on our trips north.


message 14: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "I should try to finally get to the Betsy-Tacy books, they have been on my to-read shelf since forever (but yes, I only found out about them after joining GR in 2009).

I do highly recommend them!


message 15: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "
I would though if you can spare or find the time, recommend the Emily of New Moon novels, as they are very much autobiographical with regard to how L.M. Montgomery ended up becoming a writer and that process, spread through the three books is reallly quite interesting as well as enlightening. ..."


These are some of my favorite books ever!


message 16: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "Now I do not know how easily the Gutsy Girls series (from Second Story Press) are available in the USA, but I can and do highly recommend all of the books in the series. And yes, while writing and ..."

I've had The Contest on my to-read for awhile (probably based on your review) but I likely won't get to it this month. The series does sound good!


message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Now I do not know how easily the Gutsy Girls series (from Second Story Press) are available in the USA, but I can and do highly recommend all of the books in the series. And yes, ..."

I do highly recommend the entire series, but yes, there are also many issues faced and shown but I love the sense of time (for the historical novels) and the sense of place for all of the novels.


message 18: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 04, 2020 05:59AM) (new)

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QNPoohBear wrote: "I've never heard of the Gutsy Girls series. We don't get many Canadian children's books this far south of the border and I don't recall visiting any bookstores on our trips north."

I think you would enjoy all four of the Gutsy Girls novels. It is really annoying that Canadian children’s novels are so often not available in the USA. You should check out the Toronto company that publishes the Gutsy Girls series, Secondstory Press.


message 19: by Manybooks (new)

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Started reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, and so far, while Mable's narrative voice is interesting enough, I also have to admit that I find her a bit full of herself and with an annoying tendency to boast about her literary talents and her lyricism. Hope that this calms down as the novel progresses, for I really do not enjoy reading about individuals with overly inflated egos and this especially in first person narrations.


message 20: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
So yes, rereading the Emily of New Moon series with regard to Emily becoming a writer is really enjoyable so far. And I really love how L.M. Montgomery shows that becoming a writer is not something that is or should be easy and simple, that it takes a lot of work, is often painful, frustrating but also something that if you are meant to become a writer, you will simply need to endure and accept.


message 21: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

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Manybooks wrote: "So yes, rereading the Emily of New Moon series with regard to Emily becoming a writer is really enjoyable so far. And I really love how L.M. Montgomery shows that becoming a writer is not something..."

I very much agree with this assessment.


message 22: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Aug 06, 2020 08:11AM) (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "Started reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, and so far, while Mable's narrative voice is interesting enough, I also have to admit that I find her a..."

How far along are you? I almost gave up on it for the same reasons but I stuck with it and about half way through I felt it started to improve. I read it several years ago and ended up giving it four stars though I almost DNF initally.


message 23: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 06, 2020 08:17AM) (new)

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Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Started reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, and so far, while Mable's narrative voice is interesting enough, I also have to admit..."

Just a few pages in and after reading your review I am trying to be a bit more patient, because perhaps, the improvement you mention is Mable becoming a bit more mature.


message 24: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Started reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, and so far, while Mable's narrative voice is interesting enough, I al..."

You may not warm to it as much as I did but I hope that you will enjoy it if you do stay with it. I can't bring to mind many details so I guess it wasn't that memorable of a read for me, though I do remember I enjoyed the format and was glad I stayed with it.


message 25: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 06, 2020 10:24AM) (new)

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Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Started reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, and so far, while Mable's narrative voice is intere..."

I am definitely not ready to give up, but I do hope Mable gets more mature and considerably less self centred.


message 26: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 06, 2020 11:17AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Upon rereading Front Desk and focussing mostly and primarily on the fact that recent Chinese immigrant to the USA Mia wants to be a writer and not follow in her mother's footsteps and study science and math, I really do have to say that I absolutely and utterly just HATE HATE HATE Mia's mother with every fibre of my being and think that she is often rather majorly verbally abusive and deliberately nasty towards her daughter and also obviously someone who only considers math and science important and that the humanities and the arts (including her daughter's wish to become a writer) are somehow worthless and as such sadly also unacceptable.

Sorry for being a bit abrupt and extreme here, but I have also had my share of parents and family members casting my degrees etc. down just because I am a writer, thinker and reader and not someone who enjoys math and the like. And in my humble opinion, Mia's mother is thus and indeed rather too often totally verbally vicious towards her daughter and as such also to and for me completely and absolutely horrid as a parent (and yes, Mia's mother also and massively needs to get her internally ugly and vicious wings clipped in a major way due to this, as she absolutely needs and deserves being put down a peg or two and to be told that her verbal viciousness is not the way to go and that Mia does not deserve this kind of non parenting).

Now with Mia's father, well, I also do happen to think that he is a huge and massive coward to not even remotely take Mia's side and to not tell his wife in no uncertain terms that being nasty and mean is indeed a form of child abuse and that Mia should not be forced into a career path she does not like and want, that Mia should be encouraged with regard to her writing and not denigrated.

For really, did Mia's family not immigrate to the USA for freedom of choice, and that yes indeed, freedom of choice should also of course include Mia deciding to focus on her writing, on her becoming an author and not being forced to emulate her mother and her mother's love of science and mathematics.


message 27: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "
I would though if you can spare or find the time, recommend the Emily of New Moon novels, as they are very much autobiographical with regard to how L.M. Montgomery ended up becom..."


I do find Emily more of a kindred spirit than Anne.


message 28: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1886 comments I remember really liking Mabel Riley. Yes, Emily Byrd Starr is less outrageous and somewhat more appealing than Anne at times but Anne captured my heart early and Emily didn't sparkle on the page in the same way to capture my attention.


message 29: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6470 comments Mod
I agree with your assessment of the mother in Front Desk. I really tried to see her point of view, as I always do, and I just couldn't.


message 30: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I agree with your assessment of the mother in Front Desk. I really tried to see her point of view, as I always do, and I just couldn't."

To say that I hated the mother is an understatement.


message 31: by Manybooks (new)

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Edwina Victorious

So aside from the fact that the ending of Susan Bonners' Edwina Victorious feels rather rushed and considerably too much on the proverbial surface and therefore also with not nearly enough textual depth for my personal reading tastes (and yes, my inner child is also rather rebelling at this, and also at the fact that the sense of time and place in Edwina Victorious does kind of feel a bit off, that the novel on the one hand reads like it is from when it was published in 2000 but that the lack of featured technology such as cell phones, computers and emails also make one feel as though the story is considerably older), I also do really find it rather problematic at best that although at the conclusion of Edwina Victorious, young Edwina Osgood does have to face up to her actions and behaviours and indeed publicly so (that even for the very best of political and social intentions, it is of course unacceptable to use someone else's words as your own and to sign someone else's name as your own, and yes, even if your first and last names are in fact exactly same), there is an in my humble opinion very much machiavellian the end justifying the means attitude being featured in Edwina Victorious and as such equally not nearly enough condemnation and criticism of how Edwina uses her great aunt's name and old community activism letters to basically force the mayor to actively engage in cleaning up areas of the city that had been neglected and desperately in need of this. For even with Edwina being forced to publicly apologise to the mayor (to everyone) for her subterfuge, to and for me, Edwina Victorious still seems to end with Edwina (as well as her friend and helpmeet Roger) only being very very mildly criticised and actually rather celebrated and feted, that Edwina's plagiarised and deliberately wrongfully signed letters are seen and approached by author Susan Bonners as something not inherently wrong in and of themselves.

I guess what I am basically saying is that while I do in fact and indeed very much agree with Edwina and Roger wanting to become politically active and even with Edwina writing her letters to the mayor regarding city issues that she has noticed and wants fixed and changed (cleaning up dilapidated parks, allowing for a vacant city lot to become a useable space for a restaurant, making the local zoo more animal friendly), I also think that due to how Edwina has written those letters (using plagiarism and faking her great aunt's signature) that yes, Edwina Victorious really should have more lasting repercussions for both Edwina and for Roger and having them needing to make more amends (because in my opinion, the ending of Edwina Victorious really does seem to try to make rather light of the nefarious ways and means of Edwina Osgood's letter writing campaign and basically tends to in my opinion almost make excuses for Edwina having actively plagiarised her great aunt's letters and signed her great aunt's first and last name, even though plagiarism is majorly academically dishonest and faking a signature actually a criminal offence).


message 32: by Manybooks (new)

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Emily of New Moon

Even more so than L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, her Emily of New Moon trilogy novels (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest) have always been absolutely and utterly personal favourites, and mostly so because while I have definitely and certainly enjoyed reading about Anne Shirley, her bubbly extrovertedness is not and can never be even remotely as close to me and to my own rather internal and quiet personality as equally imaginative and dreamy as Anne Shirley but also considerably more introverted Emily Byrd Starr. For indeed, Emily is absolutely and totally I, and a character, a persona to whom I can therefore relate much better and with considerably more ease than to either Anne Shirley and yes also to Emily's main sidekick and best friend Ilse Burnley who most certainly is an enjoyable and interestingly enough depicted character but who is also much too external and often considerably too all over the place, even bordering on the extreme for my personal reading tastes.

Now aside from my emotional kinship and attachment to young Emily Byrd Starr, I guess what has always made the Emily novels so special, so encouraging and uplifting (and indeed all of them, but my favourite is most definitely this here first novel, is Emily of New Moon) is that even with tragedies, sadness and emotional neglect being often rather overtly and painfully described by L.M. Montgomery (and in a manner so detailed and laden with pathos that she obviously seems to be writing from her own personal experience here), Emily is always able to keep engaging in her passion and need for writing even when especially her Aunt Elizabeth staunchly and rather unbendingly at first disapproves (and of course primarily and delightfully with Cousin Jimmy's help, who is probably one of my most favourite male L.M. Montgomery's male characters, period, richly and with exquisite and loving detail depicted, possessing a total and sweetly pure heart of gold and who is in fact also more than willing to unconditionally forgive Aunt Elizabeth for having pushed him into the New Moon well when they were children, even though this has had a lasting both physically and mentally painful effect on him).

And most definitely, I have certainly always in the Emily novels much preferred Cousin Jimmy as a character to say Aunt Laura, who while sweet tempered and always sympathetic towards Emily, is actually a rather pale and paper thin character with not much if any backbone and fight so to speak (and if truth be told, I do even rather prefer Aunt Elizabeth as a character to Aunt Laura, for while there is not really anything to Aunt Laura, Aunt Elizabeth always does appear as a real flesh and blood individual, as a character who might indeed be hard, severe and not always very sympathetic and empathetic towards her niece, towards Emily, but who still is a much more richly nuanced character than Laura who mostly just appears as a one dimensional leaf in my humble opinion). And yes indeed, I also do very much love love love how slowly but surely throughout the course of Emily of New Moon, both Emily and Aunt Elizabeth start to increasingly understand and appreciate one another until by the end of the novel, the latter considers her niece no longer merely an inconvenient duty and burden, no longer just the unloved and loathsome offspring of Juliet Murray's and Douglas Starr's unapproved of elopement and marriage, but a beloved and increasingly appreciated child (so eloquently and warmly depicted at the end of Emily of New Moon during Elizabeth's vigil at Emily's bedside when Emily is seriously and frighteningly ill with the measles, and where Elizabeth finally does admit to her sister Laura just how much she loves her niece and how much Emily actually has come to mean to her).

And now finally (but for and to me very much importantly), I do have to admit that I have aways had a somewhat difficult time accepting those dissenting voices which seem to imply that the character of Dean Priest is somehow and supposedly a pedophile (although I still do respect those readers who find him creepy, as what my reading tastes and viewpoints are, are of course not necessarily those of other readers). However and the above having been said, I personally do still NOT in any manner consider Dean Priest a potential pedophile (never have and never will), since his interest in Emily is (and in the first novel, in Emily of New Moon especially) entirely spiritual in nature, that he is not at all interested in Emily in a sexual and physical manner whatsoever, but in my opinion simply recognises and appreciates a kindred soul (as yes, Emily herself also does with him). And truthfully, aside from Cousin Jimmy and main protagonist Emily Byrd Starr, Dean Priest is probably also one of my favourite characters in Montgomery's Emily of New Moon series, well, at least until the third novel, until Emily's Quest, where Dean becomes more and more jealous of Emily's writing and actually causes (coerces) her to destroy, to burn her manuscript and then to be so devastated by this that she falls down the stairs and seriously injures herself. And yes, I do hope that those readers who tend to consider Dean Priest as a problematic individual and perhaps even as somewhat pedophilic will NOT now equally consider me thus, but be that as it may, I have indeed always adored Dean Priest (at least in the first two Emily novels, in both Emily of New Moon and Emily Climbs) and indeed until Dean's jealousy and almost stalker like clinginess in Emily's Quest, I for one had also kind of wanted Dean and Emily to become a couple as I just do not all that much like Teddy Kent as Emily's love interest (finding him a nicely enough conceptualised character but with not all that much which I personally would find either stimulating or engaging, and the same holds true for Perry Miller I might add, whom I do find more interesting than Teddy Kent but still not really of much narrative substance).


message 33: by Manybooks (new)

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Emily Climbs

Just a wee bit too episodic at times for my liking and personal tastes (and with especially the chapters where Emil Byrd Starr and best friend Ilse Burnley go canvassing for magazine subscriptions, where Emily through her supposed second sight then locates little lost Alan Bradshaw feeling at least to and for me a trifle tacked on so to speak and almost as though L.M. Montgomery has felt as though she desperately requires yet another instance of Emily Byrd Starr being presented as someone with supposed psychic powers in order to cement her depiction and description of Emily as a person of magic, artistry, of Emily as a creature of starlight and occasional uncanniness, albeit I do admit absolutely loving the tale of the woman who spanked the king) and that sometimes, in particular the imagined diary entries do tend to interrupt narrative flow a bit, generally L.M. Montgomery's second instalment of the Emily of New Moon trilogy (Emily Climbs) features (in my opinion) as both a more than worthy and adequate sequel to Emily of New Moon and also nicely and effortlessly then ties the latter, ties Emily Climbs to the third novel, to Emily's Quest.

And indeed, all my mild criticisms of Emily Climbs mentioned above notwithstanding (as well as the personal frustrations with the annoying truth of the matter that I have also found one of my favourite characters from the first novel, from Emily of New Moon, that I have found Dean Priest increasingly turning too clingy, too demanding and strangely jealous in Emily Climbs and with Perry Miller, his constant bragging and that he obviously is incredibly clueless regarding the fact that Emily is NOT AT ALL interested in him in a romantic manner also really getting on my nerves) I certainly have very much enjoyed reading about Emily Byrd Starr's experiences (and multiple escapades) going to high school in Shrewsbury, and in particular how she is increasingly growing up and becoming more and more sure of herself (including how she usually and hilariously does manage to rout arch rival Evelyn Blake with pointed and excruciatingly hilarious sarcasm, finally leaving the latter squirmingly helpless and Emily Byrd Starr as the total victor with the timely and satisfying discovery and outing that Evelyn did in fact copy that poem for which she won an award over Emily's own and non plagiarised submission).

And yes even L.M. Montgomery's descriptions of Emily having to live with her more often than not rather odious and overbearing Aunt Ruth have generally been rather amusing and enlighteningly engaging. But to be honest, Ruth Dutton's constant refrain that Emily somehow is sly and untrustworthy, that does sometimes feel a bit over-used and exaggerated by L.M. Montgomery and actually has made me even want to at times skim over certain parts of Emily Climbs since reading over and over again about Emily constantly being labelled as someone not to be trusted and consistently denigrated gets a bit same old, same old and lamely tedious (although I have to admit broadly and pleasurably smiling at the episode where Emily finally overhears her aunt praising her to a visitor and realising that perhaps Aunt Ruth does not actually despise her but will of course never ever likely say many if any laudatory and positive words of encouragement to her face).

Finally, while I do not particularly like (and am also infuriated) in Emily Climbs having Emily's Aunt Elizabeth Murray exact that mandate of Emily not being allowed to write fictional stories in order for her to be able to attend high school in Shrewsbury (as of course it would be the Murrays footing the bill, paying Emily's tuition and expenses and well, especially Aunt Elizabeth strongly considers fiction as writing falsehoods) I do appreciate and cheer that Emily does not simply agree and say yes and amen to Aunt Elizabeth's unreasonable demands of NO WRITING whatsoever and that between both Emily and her cousin Jimmy, they manage to both reason with and convince Aunt Elizabeth that Emily need only promise not to pen "stories" and that writing non fiction and poetry would still be allowed and deemed acceptable.

And yes, reading Emily Climbs and Emily Byrd Starr's continuous development and maturation as a writer, in my opinion, having Emily be forced to reign in her imagination a bit in order to pen reasonable and acceptable non fiction accounts is actually (in retrospect) a very good ways and means of training Emily's writing skills for the time when she will finally be once again free to write fiction. For when after Great Aunt Nancy's death, Aunt Elizabeth tells her niece that since she has now been provided for education-wise in the latter's will, she also no longer is bound by her promise to not write prose fiction as Aunt Elizabeth Murray will naturally no longer be responsible for providing the funds for Emily's education, to and for me, it sure also does seem as though that after Great Aunt Nancy Priest's death, while Emily is of course ecstatic that she can once again let her imagination run wild and compose, pen fictional stories, her enforced break of having to limit herself to non fiction for much of Emily Climbs has actually been a godsend in many ways, as it also has made Emily's fiction writing less exaggerated, more realistic and believable, that Aunt Elizabeth's demands that her niece not write ANY fiction (while she was paying Emily's expenses) have actually made Emily Byrd Starr into a better and less overly emotional and exaggerated writer across the board.


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Emily's Quest

Yes and albeit that I have indeed always enjoyed reading Emily's Quest and have also found it a reasonable and generally satisfying enough conclusion to the Emily of New Moon trilogy (and especially with regard to Emily's writing career and that she has finally managed to reach the pinnace of success when her novel The Moral of the Rose is released by the Warehams, by one of North America's most famous and well known publishing houses), I also do NOT particularly (if at all) enjoy (and have actually and in fact NEVER all that much been able to personally completely accept) that L.M. Montgomery has made Dean Priest (one of my absolute favourite characters from the first novel, from Emily of New Moon in particular) into such a jealous and disgustingly petty individual, into someone who in Emily's Quest is actually depicted by L.M. Montgomery as being so insanely jealous of even Emily's writing that he tells her a blatant falsehood about the supposed lack of narrative quality in a novel she is in the process of completing, causing Emily to not only believe him and consider herself totally talentless and worthless as a writer but to also burn her manuscript, fall down the stairs at New Moon and almost consent to marry the individual who has thus shattered her dreams.

But truth be told, while after reading about Dean Priest's transformation from platonic and interesting friend to a very envious, manipulative and much possessive lover and fiancé in Emily’s Quest I am of course (and on the surface) happy that after realising how much she actually both physically and spiritually loves Teddy Kent (and how clinging and overbearing Dean Priest has become), Emily Byrd Starr breaks off her engagement to the latter and yes, that finally after many (often hopeless seeming) struggles, Emily does indeed become Teddy's bride, personally, I have also and ALWAYS found especially Teddy Kent a majorly uninspiring, uninterestingly depicted and featured character in the Emily of New Moon series. And indeed, that at the end of Emily's Quest, Emily and Teddy become a couple (and this even after Teddy was going to marry Emily Byrd Starr's best friend Ilse Burnley and did not only because Ilse basically abandoned him at the altar and eloped with Perry Miller) on an entirely emotional and how much I have never really found Teddy Kent all that interesting and relatable as a character level, I for one would actually and in fact have much preferred to have seen Dean Priest reform himself, conquer his jealousies and to have Emily's Quest end with not Emily and Teddy but with Emily and a newer and improved, less envious by nature Dean as the bridal couple (but then again, this is just my personal preference speaking and in particular the fact that I have never really been all that much enamoured of L.M. Montgomery's rather insipid and flat portrayal of Teddy Kent and I do know and respect that many readers seem to totally be enthralled with and by Teddy and Emily's love story and that they have therefore also naturally found the ending of Emily's Quest and Emily Byrd Starr and Teddy Kent being engaged to be married the perfect and romantic ending to and for the Emily of New Moon trilogy).


message 35: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 08, 2020 02:12PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Other books about writers/writing

Dear America/Dear Canada/My Name is America
Young American Voices by Marissa Moss
Amelia's Notebook series Amelia's Notebook also by [..."


I wish I could find a cheap copy of The Silver Pencil. It’s been on my to read list forever.


message 36: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
I am about half way done now with Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance and yes, Kathryn is right, Mable is getting a bit more mature and less full of herself in her diary entries, not yet a kindred spirit but definitely more likeable for me than at the beginning (I guess she is maturing a bit). Do love the Southern Ontario sense of place (Stratford and indeed Berlin, but do think that the author should have left a footnote that Berlin is now called Kitchener and that it was changed during WWI).


message 37: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "I am about half way done now with Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance and yes, Kathryn is right, Mable is getting a bit more mature and less full of herself..."

I'm glad you're finding that Mable (and the overall reading experience) is improving.


message 38: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
I know that this is considered a classic but I am finding Harriet the Spy not at all enjoyable and Harriet a totally unlikable and nasty person.


message 39: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1886 comments Manybooks wrote: "I know that this is considered a classic but I am finding Harriet the Spy not at all enjoyable and Harriet a totally unlikable and nasty person."

I don't remember liking that one much. The movie didn't do anything for me either but I liked it better than my memory of the book.


message 40: by Manybooks (new)

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QNPoohBear wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "I know that this is considered a classic but I am finding Harriet the Spy not at all enjoyable and Harriet a totally unlikable and nasty person."

I don't remember l..."


I hope the book improves but right now I just find Harriet a pain.


message 41: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "I know that this is considered a classic but I am finding Harriet the Spy not at all enjoyable and Harriet a totally unlikable and nasty person."

I have no recollection of having read this book (or had it read to me) as a child. Wondering if my mom disliked it so didn't introduce it to me. I know it's a classic and many of my GR friends love it so maybe I'll give it a try someday but it never really appealed to me based on the description and your comment makes me think I wouldn't be a fan.


message 42: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "I know that this is considered a classic but I am finding Harriet the Spy not at all enjoyable and Harriet a totally unlikable and nasty person."

I have no recollec..."


There seem to be two camps with regard to Harriet the Spy, those who love the book and those who hate it. I am hoping I will be able to at least appreciate it, but so far, I find Harriet really annoying.


message 43: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6470 comments Mod
I didn't like Harriet the Spy either time I read it. I think those who love it might also be fans of Catcher in the Rye? (I don't like that, either.)


message 44: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I didn't like Harriet the Spy either time I read it. I think those who love it might also be fans of Catcher in the Rye? (I don't like that, either.)"

Still planning on finishing at present but not at all liking Harriet.


message 45: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Have to admit that I was often skipping Mable Riley’s inserted and “penned by herself” romance tale as it really is a bit of a pain to read. On the other hand, it also shows rather stridently the both content and stylistic mistakes especially new and younger writers tend to make, but it certainly was not pleasant to read (but probably also not meant to be).


message 46: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6470 comments Mod
Oh now you're making me too curious....


message 47: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 6013 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "Have to admit that I was often skipping Mable Riley’s inserted and “penned by herself” romance tale as it really is a bit of a pain to read. On the other hand, it also shows rather stridently the b..."

Yes, that is how I took it, that it does a great job showing the mistakes young writers often make... I actually found it amusing, though I could see where it could just be rather a nuisance to read.


message 48: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Have to admit that I was often skipping Mable Riley’s inserted and “penned by herself” romance tale as it really is a bit of a pain to read. On the other hand, it also shows rathe..."

I think it would have been less of a slog to read if Mable’s attempts had been short pieces poetry and not long and drawn out prose (I seem to recall that in the Emily of New Moon novels, Montgomery does write about Emily’s earlier prose attempts but only gives poetry as actual examples of her work within the text itself).


message 49: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Kathryn wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "Have to admit that I was often skipping Mable Riley’s inserted and “penned by herself” romance tale as it really is a bit of a pain to read. On the other hand, it also shows rathe..."

I guess I kind of found the combination of Mable's sometimes rather annoying voice with her overly inflated ego and that tedious romance tale a bit of a pain and too expansive and long.


message 50: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7884 comments Mod
Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance

Albeit that Marthe Jocelyn's Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance should have been right up my proverbial reading alley so to speak (considering that I tend to adore historical fiction and especially if it is penned as a first person narration), I do have to admit that while Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance did start getting much more readable and enjoyable about half way through my perusal, I also really cannot say that I ever managed to fully warm up to fictional diarist and first person narrator Mable Riley and certainly and therefore do not consider her a true kindred spirit (even though I of course also very much acknowledge that Mable really does majorly mature and start to become less self-invloved the further along her fictional journal entries and letters stretch).

But yes, when I first started reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, while Mable's narrative voice was certainly interesting and engaging enough, especially in the first part of her journal entries, in the first part of Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, I did and most annoyingly and frustratingly so consider Mable as more than a bit too full of herself and also with a most annoying tendency to boast about her literary talents and her supposed lyricism (and using criticisms of others that were not really ever warranted, acting all holier than thou and certainly showing a massively inflated ego, and so much so that I was more than once in fact even tempted to stop reading Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance, since while I do generally very much enjoy first person narrations, I also tend to react rather majorly allergically to first person narrators with overly inflated egos and an inflatedly high opinion of themselves).

And while by the end of Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance I could certainly then appreciate Mable Riley as a person and how much she has managed to mature, to become less of a diarist and letter writer simply tooting her own horn (and that yes, some of her considerations regarding Mrs. Rattle and the strike at the cheese factory do indeed pretty much brilliantly demonstrate just how much Mable has grown), I still cannot really say that I have ever found Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance an unadulterated and pure reading pleasure. And therefore, only three stars maximum as a ranking for Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance (because aside from me often having my issues with Mable Riley's voice and her attitudes and behaviours at the beginning of Marthe Jocelyn's presented narrative, I have also found that I was often needing to skim over and sometimes even skip Mable Riley’s inserted and “penned by herself” romance tale, finding it majorly and annoyingly tedious, although the inserted romance text also and certainly manages to point out rather vigorously the both content and stylistic based mistakes especially new and younger writers tend to make, but indeed, this did not and does not really make Mable's little story any more pleasant to read, although I also do think that this is meant to be deliberate, that Marthe Jocelyn has in fact intended the inserted romance tale in Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance to be a frustrating reading slog).


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