One hundred years ago this month, L.M. Montgomery published Anne of Green Gables. The anniversary has been marked by a new edition of the book and a new prequel by Canadian children’s author Budge Wilson—not to mention the celebrations on Prince Edward Island. But how much did the feisty redhead have in common with her creator? That’s the question Irene Gammel poses in the well-researched Looking for Anne of Green Gables, which examines Montgomery’s life through the lens of her best-known work.
Gammel, who teaches English at Ryerson University in Toronto, digs up Montgomery’s influences, including model Evelyn Nesbit, whose dreamy beauty inspired Anne’s. She explores the ways Montgomery’s life mirrored Anne’s own, from her teaching career to the intense relationships with women that were the basis for Anne and Diana’s passionate friendship. The “dual biography” format can be awkward, and Gammel’s academic background is evident in some passages, but this work provides an in-depth look into two famous lives.