Lucy Maud Montgomery’s heirs are not impressed, to say the least.
Online shopping forum Amazon.com has given the legendary character Anne Shirley a new look, transforming her from the skinny, red-haired child into a buxom blonde.
Beth Cavert, with the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society and an independent L.M. Montgomery scholar, said Wednesday Montgomery’s granddaughter, Kate MacDonald-Butler, is disgusted.
“She’s hiding out. She thinks it’s terrible,’’ Cavert said.
Amazon is selling a three-in-one set — Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island — on its website that features Anne wearing a plaid shirt, seemingly leaning against a bale of hay. She’s featured with blonde hair, not red, and she is not … ahem … skinny.
Simon Lloyd, with the L.M. Montgomery Institute at UPEI, said the character’s image is in the public domain where it seems anyone can publish their own rendition of Anne Shirley.
Lloyd said the image is unauthorized, referring to it as a “self-publishing print-on-demand platform.”
He said this type of thing has happened before.
Lloyd said the image was created through Amazon’s self-publishing arm and not from any “reputable publisher’’.
Lloyd said Elizabeth Epperly, the founding chair of the institute and former president of UPEI, was declining to comment.
Cavert said Amazon.com should have a gallery of more free images it could have picked from unless they are trying to cause a stir.
“Maybe they’re trying to add some sizzle to attract who knows what kind of audience,’’ Cavert said, adding that a book should have an image on the front cover that relates, in some way, to the content inside.
An employee at the Indigo bookstore in Charlottetown said staff has heard the talk about the picture but no word on whether the controversial image will make its way into bookstores.
The employee, who only identified herself as Michelle, said there is a new release of the three-in-one set coming out in May but the character’s image on the dustcover is the one people are most familiar with.
“In that one, she’s red-haired,’’ Michelle said. “She definitely looks like a child.’’
Another order is en route to Indigo in July but Michelle said there was no picture attached to it when she looked on her computer.
Anne’s new look wasn’t going over very well with anybody.
Blogger Mike Morrison, who operates under Mike’s Bloggity Blog, said publishers are “pretty much guaranteeing the wrath of fans from all around the world.’’
Amazon was taking heat on its own website as well.
“Worst Anne of Green Gables cover ever. Ever!,’’ one person wrote.
The Guardian left a message with the lawyer who represents the Montgomery heirs but the call was not immediately returned. Cavert said there is nothing the heirs can do to protect the character’s image in the public domain.
On the flip side, Cavert said people are talking about the character, many of whom are fans “who have come out passionate and supportive’’ of the beloved character.