Book Review: House of Dreams by Liz Rosenberg

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Title: House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery
Author: Liz Rosenberg
Publication Date: 12th June 2018

Synopsis: "Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, "I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them." Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books; she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables.

For many years, little was known about Maud's personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, unaffectionate grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her "year of mad passion," and her troubled married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished journals.

House of Dreams is the fires biography of L. M. Montgomery for young readers to include the recent revelations about the author's last days and to encompass the complexity of a brilliant and checkered life. Kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never give up "the substance of things hoped for" will be captivated by the life story of this remarkable woman."

My thoughts: Reading this book was so much like reading Anne of Green Gables at times - just the tone, the joy in life and the beauty in the world - all of this comes through in the diary entries of L. M. Montgomery, and Rosenberg supports the entries with writing that supports them and makes them shine. 

I honestly had no idea what L. M. Montgomery's life was like before reading this book. And the way it is written is strung together well, managing to be both gentle but straightforward. Considering that this is written for children, I think Rosenberg manages to convey some pretty serious issues and traumatic events with sensitivity, without sugarcoating.  The simple but beautiful illustrations, provided by Julie Morstad, accompany each chapter wonderfully - conveying the wonder in the world, whilst also indicating the period of Maud's life accurately.

Rosenberg also manages to link together what was happening in Montgomery's personal life with what happened in her professional life, as well as drawing some pretty convincing conclusions about her mental health issues - this, too, is handled sensitively. I read this book in a span of about 24 hours - starting in the evening one day, and then finishing it in a lovely reading sprint the next morning. It is so wonderfully readable, despite the fact that I found myself crying at times. I finished this book feeling a lot of things, but the two main things at the forefront were a sense of hope, and the desire to read more Anne books. Highly recommend picking this one up.

{I received a review copy of this book for Walker Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!}

A favourite line from the book: "On warm days Maud opened the casement window and listened to the singing of the birds, the rustling of poplars. Even as a small girl, Maud's moods soared or plummeted according to the seasons. Her favorite time was late spring and early summer. Here was "a kingdom of beauty," she wrote. She delighted in summer rain pouring in green torrent over hills and fields. In fall she watched the flame of sunset, or the rising of a moon over the tip of a larch tree."

You would like this book if: You are interested in the life of L. M. Montgomery, or want to find out more about the mind that created Anne of Green Gables.

Rating:  8/10

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