Thursday, May 17, 2012

Short-Story Month 2012: Day 17, Old Lady Lloyd by L.M. Montgomery

"The children believed she amused herself counting the gold in the big black box under her bed. Spencervale children children held the old lady in mortal terror; some of them--the "Spencer Road" fry--believed she was a witch [.  . .]" 

Illustration of fictional character Anne Shirley from L.M. Montgomery's book Chronicles of Avonlea
From Chronicles of Avonlea,
character Anne Shirley
It's Day 17 of National Short-Story Month.  Until today, every selected story has been by a United States author.  Today's selection, however, if from the United States' close relation, Canada.

L.M. Montgomery's story collection, Chronicles of Avonlea, follows the place, people, and the main character Anne Shirley, from Montgomery's popular series Anne of Green Gables. By this time, Anne Shirley is a young woman; however, knowledge of Anne Shirley's past is not necessary to enjoying these works.  Most, if not all, the characters are not from the original series.

It has seemed to her every time she had read any of Montgomery's work, whether at age 12 or 30, that Montgomery is a superior writer at, especially, the crafting of landscapes.  It is somewhat easy to have a reader imagine, let's say, an orchard.  But it is something quite other to walk the reader through the orchard as another person.  But Montgomery can do that, and does that consistently.  It is a beautiful world L.M. Montgomery gives us.  

There is a fragile lightness and cheer and underlying wish for goodness that comes beneath Montgomery's work, but that does not come from, for example, a negligence of the desperation of humankind.  No, Montgomery does not have a sort of Pollyanna-with-closed-eyes perspective but seems almost constantly aware of the precipice, and it is that that enriches her work.  

But we can save what she might think about Montgomery's work for another day.  Today we must read the story "Old Lady Lloyd", and celebrate that such a work and writer should be in the world.      

by L.M. Montgomery

Spencervale gossip always said that "Old Lady Lloyd" was rich and mean and proud. Gossip, as usual, was one-third right and two-thirds wrong. old Lady Lloyd was neither rich nor mean; in reality she was pitifully poor--so poor that "Crooked Jack" Spencer, who dug her garden and c hopped her wood for her, was opulent by contrast; for he, at least, never lacked three meals a day, and the Old Lady could sometimes achieve no more than one. But she was very proud--so proud that she would have died rather than let the Spencervale people, among whom she had queened it in her youth, suspect how poor she was and to what straits was somtimes reduced. She much preferred to have them think her miserly and odd--a queer old recluse who never went anywhere, even to church, and who paid the smallest subscription to the minister's salary of anyone in the congregation.
Text for Our Lady Lloyd by L.M. Montgomery

No comments: