Friday Forgotten Books: THE GOLDEN ROAD by L.M. Montgomery
What with this year being the 100th anniversary of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, L.M. Montgomery has been on the minds of many – including me – throughout the year. But those moved to reread the ANNE novels or even to check out Montgomery’s other novels featuring winning heroines like Emily, Pat and Jane might miss out on THE GOLDEN ROAD, first published in 1913.
For one thing, it’s a sequel to the 1911 novel THE STORY GIRL, which introduced the gaggle of children living in the small PEI town of Carlisle whose lives change when young Sara Stanley arrives, her mother dead and her father something of an absent-minded traveler. For another, both books’ stories have been subsumed by the ROAD TO AVONLEA TV series that was popular in the late 80s and early 90s, and originally made Sarah Polley a star (though asking her about it now might elicit some sighs and glares. She’s definitely moved on.)
But THE GOLDEN ROAD lives on for me for two reasons: one, the romantic and tender story of shy Jasper Dale’s unrequited love for an idealized woman that mysteriously and magically comes through; and two, the hijinks the kids are up to in creating their own amateur press association, dubbed OUR MAGAZINE. Through “articles” and asides, we are privy to the tiny arguments, the lovingly petty rivalries and even the little crushes between group members. We also become a part of the fabric of loyalty, true friendship and bittersweet endings, especially as not all will leave the “Golden Road” of childhood to spread their wings as adults.
In other words, THE GOLDEN ROAD is a paean to the young writer, honing his or her voice alone or in collaboration, and it seems a way for Montgomery to turn the pages back in her own life to when she was a dreamy child, discovering the joy of writing and entertaining the possibility of making a living and perhaps, something more.