All posts by Layla Medina

Hop in and join the discussions ||The Friday Book Club Book of the Month: The Secret Garden

Since its publication in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden has continued to charm readers from generation to generation.

Readers have become acquainted with Mary, Dickon, and Colin, and have become part of their adventures in reviving a decade-old garden which wilted through neglect.

This book covers so many themes such as self-discovery, self-care, and care for others, that our team have decided that this book will jump-start the first of (hopefully many) Book Club discussions, starting on July! We are excited to invite you to our discussions, which will be online, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested participants can sign up here, and we will be providing you email updates with regard to schedules and things! We’re so, so excited to have you on board!

Image credit here.

Friday Facts || Awesome trivia from LM Montgomery’s “The Story Girl”

Two weeks ago, a review of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s The Story Girl went live on this blog. Hopefully, you’ve already had the opportunity to read this gem of a book.

Raving aside, there are other awesome things about this novel–things I didn’t know the first time I read The Story Girl. Luckily, the novel had an Afterword which provided its readers a view or a glimpse of LM Montgomery’s world. Here are a few things I would like to share to you all.

  1. LM. Montgomery, also known as Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of this book was more known as the author of the widely popular Anne of Green Gables. She has written twenty novels, and over sixty short stories.
  2. Montgomery’s Scottish forbears played a great part in this novel, as she grew up listening and telling anecdotes, legends, and myths from Scotland.
  3. This became the basis, or rather, background in creating the titular character.
  4. The character Peter Craig has a resemblance to Montgomery’s former sweetheart Herman Leard.
  5. As Montgomery was leaving her home island–Prince Edward Island, she suddenly became nostalgic.
  6. Montgomery’s teenage years were the inspiration of The Story Girl.

Friday Find || The magic of The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

Image credit here.

Growing up, my older sister and mother exposed me to really good children’s books, and I fell in love with some of them. Case in point: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. That spirited redhead stole my heart the moment my eyes clapped on the first page. It was the same for the next eight books of the series.

I was looking for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess when I saw this book. And literally, I forgot about the book I was supposed to buy, and bought The Story Girl instead.

And it was totally worth it.

Mythology, fairy tales, village anecdotes, treasured family history were the repertoire of Sara Stanley’s stories. While being the titular character, she is not the only central character. It is her, her cousins and her friends, that merry band of children having various adventures–canvassing for collections for a school library, buying a picture of God, whom Sara declared, looked like a cross old man. There’s also the chapter of the ghostly bell, which terrified the children and amused an uncle.

The Story Girl also tackles other issues–vanity, friendship, illness, and religion.

In writing this book, Montgomery used the first-person narrative, in the person of Beverley King, reminiscing his boyhood in a fictional village in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Beverley travels to Carlisle, Prince Edward Island, with his younger brother Felix, after their father has been assigned by his firm to take charge of a new branch in Brazil. Without a mother to help look after them, the boys were sent to live with their father’s family.

Except from accounts in family letters, the boys set off to Prince Edward Island, not knowing what to expect. And from that, the boys take the reader into that same journey.

It was a delightful one indeed.

The Story Girl is available in paperback or in Kindle format. A free version is available here too.

Friday Feature || Better Late than Never: My thoughts on Netflix and CBC’s “Anne with an E.”

Cast: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, RH Thompson, Dalila Bela, Lucas Jade Zumann, Corinne Koslo
First and second series/season released by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netflix, 2017 and 2018

Having grown up reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books always makes me excited and wary whenever a screen adaptation of her work is on the television. After all, it’s not everyday that it happens. I won’t lie–I’ll always have high expectations.

Take Anne of Green Gablesfor example. No child who grew up in the eighties and nineties could ever forget Megan Follows’ portrayal of the lovable redheaded orphan. While Kevin Sullivan wasn’t exactly faithful to the plot (coughContinuingStorycough), it was a good adaptation. After all, it’s hard to jam in eight books into more or less two or three more series–or episodes, rather. I’ve yet to see Rilla of Ingleside adapted into a screenplay–something I’d hope to see in my lifetime.

Back to Anne of Green Gables. Last year, Netflix released their take on the aforementioned book, but they titled it Anne with an E. I’ve already finished watching the second series/season, and I love it just as much as I loved the Kevin Sullivan production (well, except for Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story).

.And yep, Netflix wasn’t faithful to the source material, either. I am however, giving five reasons why Anne with an E is still worth a watch.

  1. The characters, while  some of them not entirely in keeping with the books, still managed to be well-rounded. And I loved the best friend dynamics between Anne and Diana. For some reason, the portrayal of their friendship was so authentic and you would just want to hug them both. Not that Megan Follows and Schuyler Grant didn’t do a good job–but Amybeth McNulty and Dalila Bela put a wonderful, sweet, homey spin to it. Oh, you know what I mean.
  2. The storyline doesn’t just focus on Anne Shirley, but on other characters too. Here, in the series, we get a glimpse of Diana Barry’s life, in Jane and Prissy Andrews’ life, in Gilbert Blythe’s life–you get the picture. The viewer gets a chance to know them more.
  3. The filming location is 100% lush. I have friends who rave about how much they love Canada, but man, I probably did not receive the memo about how BEAUTIFUL Canada is (in addition to being fabulous). Prince Edward Island is stunning. I can go on all evening.
  4. It’s a bit darker, but it fits perfectly. Initially, I wasn’t sold on the theme, but when I watched the first series another time, it grew on me. The series touched on topics such as bullying, racial prejudice, and peer pressure, matters that are terribly relevant today. This was grittily yet beautifully portrayed in the second series. The second to the last sentence does sound ironic, but it is true.
  5. Yes, Megan Follows was best known for playing the titular role. I’m going to risk getting a lot of hate–because Amybeth McNulty made a very engaging Anne, and I do think she deserves to tie with Megan in that top spot.  The way she delivers her lines (majority of which weren’t in the source material)–there was so much emotion, that it felt like every time she opened her mouth, jewels and flowers fell out. Consider me a fan, stat.

That being said, I hope you would give Anne with an E a try! 🙂 Any Netflix recommendations, by the way? 🙂

Image credits: screencaps from the show

Friday Fact || In Flanders fields, where poppies blow

In history and literature, there’s no other flower that has made a mark than the poppy.

Poppies (scientific name: papaveracaeae) are small flowering plants, often herbaceous, often grown for their flowers. They have also been used for medicine. One species, the papaver somniferum is the source of opium.

So, how did the poppy gain so much significance?

It was during the First World War where trench warfare in France was raging. So many men and animals have died, and their blood, along with the nitrogen from explosives and lime from shattered infrastructures such as houses and buildings, fertilised the soil to such an extent that poppies flooded the fields of France and Belgium. Constant bombardment of the soil also disturbed the soil, bringing the seeds to the surface.

And the longer the war raged, more soldiers were being killed, the more the poppies thrived.

Soldiers wrote home about the poppies, and so did the poets. One of them was John McCrae, a Canadian doctor at a field hospital. He wrote In Flanders Fields after burying his friend, a fellow officer in the Canadian army. The poem was published in Punch, a popular publication. In millennial-speak, the poem became “viral” almost immediately. The poppies became the symbol of the war dead; the souls of soldiers killed in action between 1914 and 1918 becoming flowers.

An American professor named Moina Michael brought about the poppies’ “popularity”. Inspired by McCrae’s poem, she wore a poppy in remembrance of the fallen soldiers. Moina also helped out in war efforts, assisting in training YMCA workers. After the war, while holding classes for disabled servicemen, Moina realised that she needed to provide continual financial assistance to those servicemen. This prompted her to sell silk poppies as a means of raising funds for the veterans.

In 1921, her efforts have resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance in America, as well as Britain.

You can learn more about the First World War here, here, and here.

Reference and image source here.

Reference for Moina Michael