Is Meg Cabot the L. M. Montgomery of her generation? In the future, will daughters read their mothers' copies of her books and pass them on to their own daughters? Is there another author who fits that bill?
The comparison between the writers, and thus these non-deadly serious questions, arose in my mind partly because of various discussions I've seen on lj about how to define 'girls' fiction' - when you think about it, the definition can be as broad as you like. (I recently read a book where someone in her mid-twenties was described as a girl. I am not sure if that is heartening or patronising.) It's also and perhaps mainly because I've read a lot of both's books of late - over the last year, I've read Cabot's All American Girl, Size 12 is Not Fat and The Queen of Babble and more (to come: reviews of Nicola and the Viscount and Teen Idol), because her books seem to pop up a lot in charity shops and the like. Actually, that may argue against them being kind of book mothers keep to pass on. I tend to pass on 'disposable' books to charity shops, I assume that so do other people. Given the fact that Cabot is seen as a fluffy YA writer, maybe readers 'outgrow' her. Or maybe this is an example of this generation of young girls' attention deficit disorder. Though I do believe that Cabot has a tendency to produce quantity over quality, sometimes, I've kept all my copies of her books, purchased second or first hand.
Of Montgomery's work, most recently, I've read Pat of Beech House and The Blue Castle (the last is definitely recommended, it's a gem) and I want to read the former's sequel very much. I grew up loving the 'Anne' series and made the acquaintance of 'Emily' at college.
So what similarities do I see? Both are popular - although I haven't read any of Cabot's signature books, The Princess Diary series, I have seen the movie adaptations, which just emphasises how very, very popular she is. Both write heroine-centric books for girls, with a tendency toward series (the Anne and Emily books are what Montgomery is best known for) that inspire loyalty. They're also interested in character growth - which seperates them from more static serials. Readers do get to know what happens next.
The first Cabot books I read were the Mediator series, back when they were published under the pen-name Jenny Carroll. Though there's a supernatural twist, they have elements to be seen in most of Cabot's books, a likeable, good-hearted heroine who needs to learn something (IMO Susannah seems to devolve into more of a ditz the longer the series goes on), a delicious love interest (oh, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse), a finger on the popculture pulse (The Mediator series would probably not have existed without Buffy and Teen Idol confirms that Cabot knew of the show ). There's also a keen sensitivity to the Queen Bee system of hierarchy imposed among girls and women. The Mediator books are set in a high school, but similar ground is examined in The News Chronicle series, set at a New York newspaper.
Although both writers are known as children's writers, they've also got books for older readers - the divide is less sharp in Montgomery's books, because her series follow her heroines into adulthood (see the Anne series). In fact, the description of Anne of Green Gables as a children's book seems to have been foisted upon it in recent years.
The packaging of the adult Cabot books is interesting in this regard, as is the content. They're sold as chicklit, but the Princess Diary connection is not ignored. How could it be? She's less circumspect than Montgomery was about sex - it's a different different era - although, for instance, the News Chronicle series is fluffier, cuter and more likely to close the bedroom door early than a lot of other chick lit, and when you see the enclosed fan comments in her kids' books, you understand why. Having said that, as a reviewer reminded me, Montgomery does cover unfluffy events in The Blue Castle.
Delicious heroes aside, I had tended to think of Cabot's books as enjoyable froth, but disposable, something to be jumped on if I saw it cheap in a charity shop, but Size 12 is Not Fat, a Heather Wells mystery and the first in a series hooked me, mixing a slow-burn love story, with the reinvention of a former pop star as an independent grown-up and amateur sleuth. I came to Cabot as an adult, admittedly one who reads a lot of children's and girls' literature still, but as only a part-time member of the target audience, while like most of her readership over the years, I read Montgomery first as a child, returned to her growing up and am rediscovering her as I try to complete my collection now. So I can pose the questions that I did at the outset, but I'm in no place to answer them, and probably time will do so for me. After all, there must have been other writers that readers thought might join the canonical girls' library, as Montgomery joined Little Women and Daddy-Long-Legs and What Katy Did (my chronology is probably severely off and my selection quirky), but they didn't, or they didn't make it internationally. Thoughts? Links, resources, the usual.
[Anne of Green Gables] was published in 1908 and became an instant success, selling more than 19,000 copies in 5 months.Wikipedia claims
'It was written as fiction for readers of all ages, but in recent decades has been considered a children's book. 'Anne of Green Gables encyclopedia
Which heroine are you?
Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?
How Anne am I?
How Anne are You?
More LMM games here
.An L M Montgomery resource page
Discussion of The Blue Castle
at a book reading comm and another on Anne and Diana's relationship.
[Meg Cabot] has more than 15 million copies of her books — children's, young adult, and adult — in print worldwide.
Meg Cabot interview that covers the difficulties of being a popular YA author (who is read by kids) and an adult writer, in terms of the crossover readership, sex in the books and her own language, and it touches on the issues of quality and quantity.http://www.harf.lib.md.us/readers/archive_meet_the_author/jens_cabot_feb06.htm
conducted by Jennifer Vido.
And here she writes in her blog about revision: http://www.megcabot.com/diary/?p=520http://www.megcabot.com/diary/?p=521 It was cruel irony that just as I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for my last set of revisions, a new set came in.
I realize this is entirely my own fault for writing so much, and I have only myself to blame. The only answer, obviously, is to stop writing so much.
And believe me, I’ve tried….
But every time I try to take a break, I get some new idea for a book or a series, and I’m like, “Dang, that would be so cool,” and I have to get out of the pool and start writing it.