Talking about Akin to Love by L.M. Montgomery
As big fans of Anne of Green Gables, we decided to delve into one of L.M. Montgomery’s short stories, ‘Akin to Love’.
Josephine, the narrator, is a single woman whose sister believes is in need of a husband. Her neighbour, David (who lives with his sister) thinks he could be just the man and never tires of repeating his proposal.
Despite her self-confessed loneliness, Josephine is utterly determined that she does not want a husband. But when David’s sister falls ill and can’t look after him, Josephine takes on the task. Despite her obstinacy, she enjoys keeping his house clean and cooking his meals, and isn’t afraid to admit she quite likes his company.
To say any more here would spoil the ending, but like any good short story, it left us unsure what to think…
Illustration of Josephine looking stubborn, by Paula Salvatierra
We all came into the discussion imagining that we would talk about love in its different forms, and started with the quote the title is taken from:
“Well, I've always heard that pity was akin to love.”
We weren't particularly taken by this idea.
But the more we grappled with whether Josephine loved David or not, we discovered that perhaps this story is much more about stubbornness, flexibility and the powerful humility of being able to change your mind.
Could it be that Josephine is so deeply attached to an idea of herself that she formed at some point in her life, that she is now suffering from her inability to change her mind?
How important is it to have strong ideas of who we are, what we want and what we believe? And is there a difference between having a firm idea of what we believe, and being unwavering in that belief?
How about when it comes to work? Does holding on fast to our ideas sometimes prevent us from succeeding, individually or in a team? How can we be clear in our minds about which things it’s useful to be stubborn about, and when it's OK to let go?