Published: April 2017
Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery dreams of attending college and becoming a writer, but her grandfather does not believe in higher education for women. Worse, when she finally goes out west to be with her father again, her new stepmother treats her as nothing more than a nanny. Will Maud ever find a way to follow her dreams? Or will she grow old feeling that her world has grown increasingly smaller?
Fans of Anne of Green Gables, rejoice! If you have ever wished to find a similar book and have already read and reread all of L. M. Montgomery’s other titles, this might just be the book for you. Based on Montgomery’s journals and letters, Maud recounts the author’s teen years on P.E.I. and in Prince Albert. Maud is a little bit of Anne and little bit of Emily, combining a love for life and beauty with a desire to overcome the odds. But Maud is, most importantly, ultimately herself–and you are sure to fall in love.
The early parts of the book most resemble Montgomery’s novels, which can make it feel at times like the author and the reader are playing a game of “spot the allusion” together. Perhaps this is understandable, however. Montgomery’s stories sprang from her own life and her own feelings of loneliness, frustration, and despair–as well as the moments of deep joy– certainly made their way into her heroines’ journeys. Maud’s tale is, however, a little darker than those of her young female protagonists, and readers will find themselves sympathizing with her as her world shrinks and her hopes diminish. Knowing how history turns out does not make the journey less moving.
The pacing of the story does feel a little uneven, with Maud’s years in P.E.I. and her blossoming romance with a certain handsome someone cut abruptly short at the end of Book One. Book Two, which chronicles Maud’s years with her stepmother and her father in Prince Albert, takes up the bulk of the story. This is where much of the drama is, as Maud tries to hone her writing skills even as her stepmother tries to keep her from school so she can play nanny to her stepmother’s children. However, Book One offers many delightful friendships, quiet and reflective moments, and cherished time spent on the Island. Fishbane could have made Books One and Two roughly equal in size to keep the narrative pacing consistent.
Overall, however, Maud is a charming tale of a young woman growing up, discovering herself, and chasing her dreams. Fans of Montgomery’s works will love it, but, with its compelling protagonist and sweet romances, fans of YA will find much to enjoy in it, as well.