[Review of the book At the Altar: Matrimonial tales, ...

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Title [Review of the book At the Altar: Matrimonial tales, by Rea Wilmshurst]
Author(s) Elizabeth R. Epperly
Journal University of Toronto Quarterly
Date 1995
Volume 65
Issue 1
Start page 243
End page 245
Abstract At the Altar is the sixth volume of short stories collected and arranged by Rea Wilmshurst to appear since 1988. Wilmshurst says she hopes to publish two or three more collections, and even at that she will be reproducing far less than half of the stories [Lucy Maud Montgomery] published in her lifetime. Wilmshurst 'discovered' the stories when she visited the L.M. Montgomery Birthplace in New London, Prince Edward Island, in the 1970s. Maud Montgomery, always a faithful chronicler and record - keeper, pasted into scrapbooks copies of her printed poems and short stories. Thinking she had read everything Montgomery had published, Wilmshurst was amazed to find in the scrapbooks hundreds of stories she had never seen. Of the 506 recorded in one of Montgomery's ledgers, Wilmshurst has now located -- through the scrapbooks themselves or through painstaking searches through archives -- some 400. From these she has selected and grouped stories by theme, publishing Akin to [Anne]: Tales of Other Orphans (1988), Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea (1989), Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side (1990), After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed (1991), and Against the Odds: Tales of Achievement (1993). For readers not familiar with Montgomery's style and range, At the Altar gives a very limited sample of her abilities. And there is a complaint against Wilmshurst's choice of groupings that must be made: it is very hard to study the stories, to gain insights into Montgomery's changes and choices, because the stories have not appeared in the order in which they were published nor are they grouped by the periodicals in which they appeared. Perhaps as McClelland and Stewart would wish, most readers will need to wait for the full series to appear before they can get any real sense, say, of the quality and preoccupations we find in the stories published before and after any special event or (other) publication in Montgomery's life. It is to be hoped that the last volume of these republished stories will have a cross - referenced index and a list, in chronological order, of all the publications. In the meantime, Montgomery readers, those interested in Canadiana, short story fans, and any general readers who prize human comedy and happy endings owe Rea Wilmshurst thanks for making available yet more of L.M. Montgomery's professional writing.

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