LM Montgomery

Recs list - central mentor-student relationships between women

One thing I love to read about is mentor-student relationships, especially where both participants are women or girls. Often these kinds of relationships are in the background of narratives where other stuff is going on, but here are a few of my favourites that have a prominent place in their own stories:

Wise Child, Monica Furlong – This is one of those books that I keep coming back to. It’s a rich, vibrant fantasy set in a misty Celtic past, telling the story of a clever and prickly girl called Wise Child who is sent to live with the mysterious Juniper, a healer and sorceress who teaches her and helps her to discover her own strength and power. There’s also a prequel that’s just as magical, following Juniper’s very different experiences with her own mentor, Euny.

The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot – This series follows the adventures of New York teen Mia Thermopolis as she discovers that she is the princess of a small European nation, and learns how to handle her new responsibilities and power. Mia’s grandmother the dowager princess – unlike the version played by Julie Andrews in the (AWESOME!) movie adaptation – is a terrifying and manipulative woman who nevertheless gives Mia invaluable help as she learns about everything from how to refuse a proposal to how to speak in public, navigate life in the public eye and trust her own instincts.

Quarter Days, Iona Sharma – In interwar London, in the midst of an investigation into a rail disaster and an upheaval in the magical world, Salt magic practitioner Grace semi-reluctantly takes on an apprentice – a perceptive and talented girl named Kira. As Kira settles into the world of magic and learns the basics of her craft under Grace’s care, Grace learns her own lessons and makes her own discoveries. This lovely and evocative novella is available to read for free HERE.

Maresi, Maria Turtschaninoff – Maresi grows up in a community of women, and Sister O is just one of her many teachers and role models, but in spite of Sister O’s seriousness and strict discipline, the two of them have a deep connection built on an understanding of the importance of the quest for knowledge, and the need to share it. If you’d like to know more, I recced Maresi in detail HERE.

The Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater – Like Maresi, Blue Sargent grows up surrounded by other women – the ones at 300 Fox Way are clairvoyants and practitioners of magic, most not related by blood but living together as a family. Despite being the only non-psychic in the house, Blue learns a lot from the older women around her – especially her mother Maura, and Maura’s best friends Calla and Persephone.

Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery – The entire Anne series is rich with mentor-student relationships between women, with Anne herself often in the mentor role in the later books, but for me one of the most special is Anne’s hero-worship of Muriel Stacy, her teacher in her later years at Avonlea School. Miss Stacy is a vibrant, intelligent woman who encourages Anne to challenge herself and form her own opinions of the world, and her influence continues to resonate through Anne’s later life.

If you know of any I’ve missed out, please, please reblog and add them, I’m always looking for more books like this!

anonymous asked:

Not really a question but did you hear NETFLIX IS MAKING AN ANNE OF GREEN GABLES MINI SERIES?!!

I just don’t know about this—the old miniseries was pure perfection, and there’s no way they could ever live up to its casting. On the other hand, it would be cool if it were more faithful to the book… (Or maybe all of the books? It would be amazing if they devoted a miniseries to each of the Anne novels. And then started over with the Emily books, my favorite of LM Montgomery’s works.)

“Big Gay Anne”: Your Childhood Pal, Anne of Green Gables, Was Probably Queer

[Anne Shirley’s] attachments go way beyond those of normal early twentieth century homosocial behavior. At the age of 12, while most girls were supposed to be (and probably were) dreaming of a fairy tale ending with a handsome prince (what society tells them they should desire, at least in a flight of fancy), Anne’s fairy tale ending is not with a boy at all, but her imaginary playmate, a girl, Katie Maurice. Anne wishes to go to Katie’s wonderful world and live together with her happily ever after. Then, later, when she has been forced to move on and find another imaginary friend, Violetta, and then leave that friend too, she expresses extreme despair at having to part with Violetta. By this time Anne is well into her thirteenth year, and very articulate about her despair. It is no ordinary childish tantrum.

Yet there is one girl that stays within Anne’s soul for the entirety of the books, and that is Diana Barry. Anne had, after leaving Violetta, been searching for what she called a “bosom friend.” When Anne’s adoptive parent, Marilla Cuthbert, points out that down the way lives a nice little girl named Diana, Anne’s reaction is that of swooning over a crush. At this point, Anne had not yet even set eyes on Diana. Not long after doing so, perhaps less than an hour, Anne and Diana swear undying devotion to each other, and that first day is just the beginning of their relationship (one Anne will consider far more important to her identity than Diana will).

The two girls are practically inseparable until an accident has Diana drinking wine instead of one of Marilla’s homemade juices. Anne, having never tasted either, did not know the difference. After Diana’s mother finds out, Anne and her “bosom friend” are told they cannot play with each other ever again. The romantic language used between them only gets stronger. Even Diana claims that she loves Anne, but on Diana’s side, it may just be homosocial behavior. Anne, on the other hand, is absolutely amazed by the use of the word “love” and clings to it like a lift vest during a raging storm. She gives Diana a grand farewell and takes a lock of her friend’s hair. Even Montgomery herself calls it a romantic parting in the narration.

Although Anne and Diana are eventually reconciled, the two grow apart. Diana is no longer continuing school, and Anne is heading off to college. The attention shifts to Gilbert Blythe, although the shift is negative. Gilbert is portrayed as an annoyance, an obstacle, and a rival. Although it is clearly shown Gilbert considers himself a suitor to Anne, Anne certainly does not acknowledge it. Still, Gilbert makes himself known and even gives up his position teaching in their hometown, Avonlea, so that Anne may have it and stay closer to the Cuthberts. Anne is grateful, but it does not win her heart, or even an extension of her attention. […] Eventually, she agrees to marry him. The reasons are complex, but can be summed up in Anne’s understanding of, and feeling the pressure exerted by, the compulsory heterosexual society around her. Diana, much to Anne’s dismay, has already married and is no longer an option, if she ever truly was one, for Anne’s attentions. Anne’s other option, outside of marriage, is to end up as an on “old maid.” […] Anne may not truly be happy, but she is certainly content with [Gilbert].

Contentment does not neutralise Anne’s strong desire towards and attachment to other women. When Anne teaches at a private school in Halifax, she discovers one of her peers to be infinitely interesting. Anne develops an attachment to her fellow teacher, Katherine Brooke. Yet, Katherine wants nothing to do with Anne. Katherine is everything Anne is not. She’s cold and aloof, where Anne is warm and involved. If the adage opposites attract may be applied, the two are as opposite as they can be. Anne desires friendship with Katherine, but Katherine dismisses and even insults Anne regularly. In a conversation with a friend…Anne admits that she knows Katherine can be a horrible and unkind person, yet there is nothing she can do to shake the feeling that Katherine is worth pursuing. This devotion is another example of a crush-like attachment Anne expresses, far more romantic than anything she shares with Gilbert. When Anne finally works up the nerve to ask Katherine to come spend Christmas at Green Gables, the two exchange heated words before Katherine finally agrees.

As soon as Anne and Katherine reach Green Gables, it is like Katherine suddenly becomes the Diana that Anne no longer has. The pair has intimate discussions and goes for romantic walks down “lover’s lane,” a place named by Anne many years before. Even more interesting, as is pointed out by [Laura M.] Robinson, Katherine has to borrow snow shoes from Diana, literally filling Diana’s shoes. Anne even goes so far as to help Katherine with a makeover and tells her how beautiful she is. This is made all the odder by the fact that Gilbert is technically present during all of these events. He is mentioned once or twice, but only in the context of something on the side, and never has his own dialogue. […] Nowhere in the books does she ever say she is in love with Gilbert, and certainly not in any of the dramatic ways she has applied to her female companions, especially Diana. Gilbert is capitulation, no matter how much she may feel for him. He is the best Anne can hope for in a society that does not allow Anne to choose her life companion from within her own gender.

[Kat Callahan, 15 May 2014roygbiv] [art from Dorothy Surrenders]


I thought you liked me of course but I never hoped you loved me. Why, Diana, I didn’t think anybody could love me. Nobody ever has loved me since I can remember. Oh, this is wonderful! It’s a ray of light which will forever shine on the darkness of a path severed from thee, Diana. Oh, just say it once again.

I love you devotedly, Anne, and I always will, you may be sure of that.”

Gilbert and Anne Walk Through the Woods

“We’re going to be the best of friends, said Gilbert jubilantly. We were born to be good friends, Anne. You’ve thwarted destiny enough.”

~~ Anne of Green Gables

“Do you remember our first walk down this hill, Anne—our first walk together anywhere, for that matter?”

“I was coming home in the twilight from Matthew’s grave—and you came out of the gate; and I swallowed the pride of years and spoke to you.”

“And all heaven opened before me,” supplemented Gilbert. “From that moment I looked forward to tomorrow. When I left you at your gate that night and walked home I was the happiest boy in the world. Anne had forgiven me.”

“I think you had the most to forgive. I was an ungrateful little wretch—and after you had really saved my life that day on the pond, too. How I loathed that load of obligation at first! I don’t deserve the happiness that has come to me.”

Gilbert laughed and clasped tighter the girlish hand that wore his ring. Anne’s engagement ring was a circlet of pearls. She had refused to wear a diamond.

~~ Anne’s House of Dreams


Gilbert took from his desk a little pink candy heart with a gold motto on it, “You are sweet,” and slipped it under the curve of Anne’s arm. Whereupon Anne arose, took the pink heart gingerly between the tips of her fingers, dropped it on the floor, ground it to powder beneath her heel, and resumed her position without deigning to bestow a glance on Gilbert.
—  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables