Monday, October 27, 2014

An Open Post to Carol Kent re: The Golden Castle

Dear Carol Kent,

I love the Blue Castle to distraction and as such have always been interested in how it is infused in other works and how people who are so in love with it and its formative impact on their lives have somehow looked to it as the pinnacle of romantic comedy.

I have also been fascinated with more prominent works which draw from it.   Moments in Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle ( a la heroine Joan Foster) and, more sadly, the legal ramifications of Colleen McCullough's The Ladies of Missalonghi which was tried as a plagiarized version of The Blue Castle; but even that novel has some work original to its author and while the plagiarism claims cited plot and character liberties, the technically written aspects of the book are indigenous to McCullough's work. Indeed, you get a sense of McCullough's pen in its interpretation.

Your book, however, is not just pilfering a few plot points so much as retelling the book word for word with a time change and a few character and place changes.  You also transpose the book to America.  Reading it, I found myself wondering if there was a game such as Blue Castle MadLibs which informed the way that you would sometimes use a sentence directly plucked from Montgomery, and in other times, would borrow from the rhetoric, stylization, rhythm, stanzaic style and timbre of the original novel.

For me, I was baffled at apparent imaginative laziness.  What author does not want an opportunity to release work that is indelibly thumbprinted by their own originality? What author does not want inimitable  moments singular to their work?  You have done nothing in The Golden Castle to prove differentiation.  Indeed, the whole of the novel reads as a line by line copy of the original text down to where the paragraphs end on the page and begin on the next.

I write this not to condemn nor condone, rather to understand what must have been a time consuming but, to me, senseless project.  Fanfiction and adaptations ( please see the Austen Project currently undergoing or Death Comes to Pemberley) and pastiches work within a canonical sphere while offering unique interpretation or posing a question that will entice readers familiar with the original work.   The one major differentiation between the aforementioned  and the The Golden Castle is that they possess some originality, some different approach or slant and some thumbprint (to use that term again) of the author's creative imprint.  They add to the work.  The Golden Castle with a few circumstantial changes (I did enjoy your realization of Brigid as a cloistered artist) did not add something unique to the Blue Castle rather just reset it and shifted names.

I write this before I write a review of the book because  would love to hear (as would so many die-hard fans of The Blue Castle) the intention behind the creation of The Golden Castle. Perhaps the most unique contribution is not in the work itself, but in your perambulatory explanation and your citing of the Laws of Attraction.  This is an interesting reading into the blue castle metaphor and one that is very timeless.  I  wondered why, if this book and its message so finely correlate to the work I have found you do (I did a pretty decent Google search), you did not instead choose to write something of your own idea and creation and merely recommend The Blue Castle as a thesis on your ideas and your work.  The book is not so dated that it doesn't find brand new die-hard readers every day.   I also wonder if you can, in good conscience, accept a five star amazon review which sighs: "Such a sweet love story, thank you Carol for writing it" and not feel a strange twitch.  This is not your love story.  You did not write it.  You did something that, for me, has been an as-of-yet anomalous experience: Madlibs is the best way I  can describe it.

I am eager to hear your side, of course, but am also eager to implore you to go a little further in your beginning note.  "Inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery" is not enough. I would like to see you asserting that the work is far more than that.  You borrow more than liberally.   In one advertisement for the book, it lists a subtitle as "an Adaptation" of The Blue Castle." This too, for me, a lifelong scholar and enthusiast of The Blue Castle does not go far enough.   I have several textual examples of this more-than-liberal borrowing and I have several instances wherein  I draw on the absolutely similar cadence and tone of the work....scenes wherein it appears that you have taken a few of Maud's words out and implanted your own.


Rachel McMillan


LM Montgomery Literary Society said...

Thank you!!!!

LM said...

This is totally annoying. I left a comment on the publisher and Barnes and Noble's FB page. I wanted to read the book, but I am not willing to pay $25 for a stolen story. I read an excerpt on the B&N site and it was mad libs, just like you said! I don't understand how it is legal to sell this book?

Denise Bruce of Ingleside said...

I don't understand how she can get away with it. it's so not right. Poor Maud