#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of Green Gables Review

May 23, 2017
Anne of Green Gables Book Cover Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables, #1
L M Montgomery
Classic
Bantam Books (Classics)
May 1st, 1982
eBook
314
1908

"She'll have to go back." Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead - a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

(via Goodreads)

 

I cannot believe I didn’t read this book as a child. This classic novel is over 100 years old and yet captured my heart. There is such a simple serenity hiding within the pages of this novel. Stories of love, adventure, stubbornness, forgiveness, rivalries, family, troublemaking, and dreams are woven together to tell the tale of the heartwarming orphan, Anne Shirley. Anne with an E, that is.

It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.

 

I started reading Anne of Green Gables with my beloved Kids Lit Book Club. But I will admit, I never finished it in time for the discussion. Instead, it was left sitting on a shelf waiting for me to finish it. Thankfully, along came Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf. She was looking for a co-host for her #AnneReadAlong2017. What a great opportunity to both knock out the completion of reading Anne of Green Gables and get some cross-posting opportunities in! Now Jane and I are partners in crime hosting a read-along of the entire series. What a great excuse to finally finish this novel!

The premise of Anne of Green Gables is simple and classic. A brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, as looking to adopt a young boy to help out on the farm as they grow older. Due to an unfortunate mix-up, they end up with 11-year-old Anne Shirley and agree to keep her out of the goodness of their heart. Anne is a daydreaming chatterbox with an adventurous streak. While some warm instantly to Anne, such as Matthew and her bosom friend Diana, others take some time. A series of chronological vignettes progress us through Anne’s life from 11 to 16.

Kindred spirits are not so scarse as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.

 

It’s easy to relate to Anne Shirley. She is the little girl I had always hoped to be (well, with the exception of being a chatterbox): She takes joy in the world around her, daydreams wonderful and beautiful things, shares her joy and dreams with the people around her with enthusiasm and a zest for life. But she also makes mistakes and learns from them. Anne seems to know what it means to be the “perfect child” while shying away from it because that just isn’t who she is. I cannot recall the last time I read about a character who was so genuine and true to herself.

People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?

 

I appreciate how L M Montgomery shows the era of this novel (written in 1908) by highlighting little relevant details.  The importance of church and a protestant moral education are frequently referenced. Anne and Diana communicate by flashing mirrors behind candles from window to window. You can only travel by horse or carriage. And, of course, girls are supposed to behave like “proper young ladies”; knitting and doing household duties.

“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne signed. 

“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair”

 

But at the same time, Montgomery shows a remarkable progressive streak for a novel written in 1908. The characters in Anne of Green Gables talk about how brilliant it would be if women could vote and about how involved the women of Avonlea are in politics (practically unheard of un 1908). One of my favorite Anne-ramblings features the topic of female clergy. Anne is for the idea of women leading a congregation where Mrs. Rachel Lynde (the local old maid gossip) wouldn’t hear of it.

Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitious. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them — that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting. 

 

Relatedly, it’s easy to criticize how Anne is portrayed and viewed by the adults in her life. They think her notions are silly. She is constantly prattling on endlessly and making silly decisions. Anne mentions at one point how she’d “rather be pretty than clever”.  But I personally believe all these moments exist solely to show us over the course of the book how much Anne grows. And grow she does.

I’m not a bit changed — not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out. The real ME — back here — is just the same.

 

The young woman Anne becomes by the end of the book is one to admire. She completely gives up her college scholarship to stay with Marilla after Matthew dies just so they can remain a family at Green Gables. Younger Anne would never have made such a sacrifice of her own volition. She could have been inspired by others to do such a thing, but not on her own. Character development is one of my favorite components of literature and Anne of Green Gables has it in spades. Not just for Anne, but for all the inhabitants of Avonlea.

Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.

 

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the writing style. The dialogue is so natural; I could practically hear Anne and Diana imagining their stories in my head. The writing flows smoothly from narration to dialogue and back. Montgomery’s writing style is simple without talking down to any of her readers. And it matches the mood well.  When Anne is lost in her head and daydreaming the prose parallels her ideas. But when Anne is distressed the pacing and prose parallels her mood.  There are so many beautiful moments and wonderful turns of phrase in this book; I highlighted at least two passages in each chapter, and there are 38 chapters.

I feel like I could go on and on and on about wonderful novel. A beautiful and moving story, I cannot wait to see what other adventures Anne gets up to! For those of you reading along, please leave your link below so we can also read your review of Anne of Green Gables. Heck, link your review even if you reviewed it weeks, months, or years ago! Also, check out Jane’s Review for another linkup.

Finally, stay tuned throughout the rest of the year for our #AnneReadAlong2017! We have some great posts planned and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Join with the reading, or just with the discussion– we’ll leave it up to you. We’re just glad you are participating in the journey.


Other Anne of Green Gables Reviews

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

Naomi @ Consumed by Ink

Sarah @ Sarah Emsely

Melanie @ Grab the Lapels

Amanda @ Cover2Cover Mom

Laila @ Big Reading Life

Evelina @ Avalinah’s Books


What do you think?

  • Have you read Anne of Green Gables? What do you think of this book?
  • What is your favorite aspect of Anne of Green Gables?
  • Are you participating in our #AnneReadAlong2017? What are you looking for in this read along?

47 Comments

  • Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf May 23, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your first read of Anne 🙂 You pulled some great quotes from the book out. I love when Anne is in the “depths of despair”–it’s so over the top and hilarious at the same time.

    I hadn’t thought about the historical setting and political changes you mentioned before. But it’s so true! A lot changes in this book. And I think even more so in the books to come.

    Looking forward to all we have planned 🙂

    • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks, Jane! Montgomery did a great job writing memorable lines; it was actually super hard not to quote the entire book! O_o

      I love looking at the historical context of novels; particularly true historical fiction. There are so many things which make Anne a relic of its time. But at the same time, Montgomery is obviously ahead of her time. I look forward to learning more about Montgomery’s depiction of PEI as the books progress and compare those to the real history of PEI.

      I am so excited for our plans, too!!! 😀

  • Birdie May 23, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    This has been one of my favorite stories since I was a little girl. I saw the movies first, at the time there were only two, and I fell in love with Anne. The books came later, when I was a preteen, but I still loved everything about them. Anne is magical.

    • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      I haven’t seen any of the movies or TV shows yet; I’m not big on that sort of media. But I’ve heard great things. Particularly about the 1985 mini-series! I might need to sit down and make time for it regardless.

      I agree that Anne is magical. There is something about her earnest personality and Montgomery’s beautiful prose which transports me.

      • Birdie May 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm

        Oh, I totally agree with you. And actually, I won’t watch any other adaptation other than the 1985 mini-series with Megan Follows. It’s timeless and perfectly portrays the characters and the books.

        • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 3:49 pm

          That’s high praise for a 1980’s TV mini-series! You’ve sold me. 😀

  • theorangutanlibrarian May 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I also wish I’d read this as a child!! It’s just lovely and I related to Anne so much too!! 😀 And I just love how she develops as a character- it’s simply beautiful. Love this post!! <3

    • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you! It’s strange how amazing books pass us in the night sometimes, isn’t it? There are a few books like this; books where I feel like younger me would have ADORED them if I had gotten them at the right age. That said, I ADORE Anne. So, this one still works. 😉

  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel May 24, 2017 at 6:49 am

    I am so glad you enjoyed the book. I am not sure if I saw your original post on Anne read along but I got to know about it from Laila (Big reading life). I am delighted that you found it to be a good read even as an adult. I have had adults who read Anne tell me that they find her too slow, boring and talkative (which is the charm, right?). So I am always a bit scared if readers would enjoy Anne of GG. It is a favourite of mine too

    • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      I’m glad you heard of the #AnneReadAlong2017, at least. It means that Jane and I are doing our jobs well, then. 😀

      I can understand how from about 10%-30% some adults might be bored with this book. Particularly if they have lost all sense of their imagination. I did find myself sometimes getting frustrated with Anne’s jibber-jabbering. I’d read a page long paragraph of Anne just TALKING. But you’re right, that’s part of her charm. I started to notice as the book went along that her jabbering sections got shorter and shorter, too. When Marilla commented on Anne talking less, I realized that I was curious too. Seeing her growth in that way is brilliant. And really organic!

      I think you should keep recommending Anne to as many people as you can. They can figure out for themselves if they aren’t interested. But at least you got one more person to read a favorite book of yours. 🙂

  • Naomi May 24, 2017 at 7:49 am

    It’s fun to read someone’s first reactions to Anne of Green Gables – especially when they’re so positive! I completely agree that one of the best things about this novel (and part of what makes it a classic) is that it’s rooted in history, but is progressive at the same time. Not to mention the writing and the characters. I love reading all the quotes you pulled!
    I’m not sure if I’m supposed to leave my link in the comment section or not, but here it is:
    https://consumedbyink.ca/2015/01/29/the-many-faces-of-anne-of-green-gables/

    • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you, Naomi! And thank you for commenting. It’s great to see you here. I can’t wait to see what else Montgomery has in store for me as I continue my journey in Avonlea with Anne and Gil (whom I assume will be sticking around. Spoilers?).

      Thank you for sharing your link, as well! Jane and I are still figuring out Linkups (#BadAtTechnology), but this is perfect. I can’t wait to check out your review. I’ll link your post above, as well.

      • Naomi May 24, 2017 at 5:07 pm

        I totally get it – I’m also bad at figuring out the technological side of things! When I had my Emily readalong (also LMM), I just told everyone to link in the comments. 🙂

        • Jackie B May 25, 2017 at 3:44 pm

          That might be what we end up doing, and then I’ll link above in my post as well to encourage cross-reading? Yes. That seems like a book plan for now. 🙂

  • Shouni May 24, 2017 at 9:55 am

    This was the most wonderful Anne of Green Gables review I’ve ever read! You captured her essence so well. Character development is one of my favorite aspects of a book too and Anne goes through huge character transformation while always staying true to herself. I’m excited to see what you think about the next book! That’s another favorite of mine.

    • Jackie B May 24, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      D’aw, Shouni! You make me blush. Thank you! Have you read the whole series? I am excited to see what happens next on Anne’s adventures. I feel like Montgomery just have intended Anne of Green Gables to be standalone since soooo much happens in that novel. It’s hard for me to imagine how Anne could grow more. But I’m quite excited to see what does happen. 😀

      • Shouni May 26, 2017 at 11:19 am

        🙂 No need to blush Jackie, you deserved that compliment. I have read the whole series except I’ve forgotten so much so I know I need to revisit it.

  • Anna May 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    This book basically defined my childhood. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    • Jackie B May 25, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Thanks, Anna! Is there anything specific about Anne of Green Gables which defined your childhood? Have you read the whole series?

      • Anna May 25, 2017 at 9:05 pm

        I’ve read all of the books and just think that Anne is such a delightful character. She is so full of zest and life and she is also so far from perfect. Also, on a totally unrelated note, I just found out that my housemate is related to L.M. Montgomery!!

        • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

          I really love all of Anne’s flaws, I think they are the core of what makes her so three-dimensional. I look forward to your comments as we continue our read along; this is my first time reading these books.

          !!! Your housemate is related to LM Montgomery?! How did that even come up? Oh man. That’s a cool fact.

          • Anna May 27, 2017 at 8:33 am

            I look forward to reading your thoughts on the books. 🙂 I know, right!!! I was just talking about books to my housemates recently, and she just casually mentioned that she was related to L.M. Montgomery. How cool is that?

  • Sarah Emsley May 25, 2017 at 8:12 am

    I love that line about needing big words to express big ideas. And Anne’s realization that there’s there’s no end to her ambitions. One of my other favourite passages is the one in which she says “There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. … If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”

    • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Yes! This is an amazing quote. There are so many wonderful demi-existential quotes in this series. So many great life lessons that apply universally. I think that’s one of the reasons Anne is so timeless; these still apply today.

  • AvalinahsBooks May 25, 2017 at 9:15 am

    I’m almost finished with this book now too, and it’s just so good. It feels like country romanticism – although, to be fair, life probably WAS like that at that time? It just feels so serene, makes you just want to live in that time, with how peaceful it seems it was, compared to our crazy tempo of today.

    My only question is – HOW did you not finish it the first time round? Was it just not interesting, or..?

    I have also highlighted TONS in this book!

    Also. How and where do I link my review when I’m done xD

    • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      It feels incredibly serene. I would love to step back into that time as well. I love imagining myself friends with Anne, honestly. It’s amazing how the tempo of life has changed, as you pointed out. Technology has made it easy to get more done faster, and we continue to push ourselves towards that. It’s a bit overwhelming when you think of it.

      The only reason I didn’t finish the book the first time was that I put it off for too long. I reached almost 80% for book club. The problem was that after this book club, I had another book club meeting in three days for a book I hadn’t started yet. So, I put Anne down to read the other book. I had all intentions of picking it back up and finishing it. Alas. It just slipped away! I’m sure you’ve done that once or twice? Maybe?

      Just post your review link in the comments here when you are done! I’ll make certain it gets added to my post above. I can’t figure out the technology for a linkup O_o. Go figure.

      • AvalinahsBooks June 3, 2017 at 8:28 am

        Yeah, I can especially feel that now that my phone broke. Completely… unable to do anything now! Grah.

        Somehow books haven’t been slipping away from me ever since I started using Goodreads, cause I use it almost religiously 😀 haha. Well, I’m glad you got to finish it either way 🙂

        And I keep asking about that linkup, sorry xD I keep forgetting I already asked!

        • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm

          Hahaha– I carry my Kindle around religiously. While I can’t update my blog from there, I can certainly update Goodreads and that’s all which matters. Goodreads helps me a bit with keeping on books; I have a few books which I’ve been “reading” for over a year, actually. But I need the book in front of me to stay focused. I don’t really consider my In Progress reading list from GR. Instead I am paying attention to everyone elses! XD

          Linkup! We’re soooo not good at technology. Instead, we’re asking people to link to their post in the comments and then we are linking in our reviews. Why? Because we can’t figure out the darn technology! It’s so frustrating. It’s a long story I’ll rant to you about on Twitter sometime. 😉 So post your link here and I’ll get your link above!

          • AvalinahsBooks June 11, 2017 at 11:53 am

            Oh man, my Kindle is much too slow for me to update goodreads through it 🙂 I’d rather use my phone 😀 I have the e-ink Kindle, typing on it is a nightmare.

          • Jackie B June 16, 2017 at 11:14 am

            OHMYGOSH, right?! I *hate* typing on my e-Ink Kindle, but I love everything else about it. I take substantially fewer notes now that I have a Paperwhite. Oh well, we win some and lose some, right?

  • Grab the Lapels May 25, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Hi, Jackie! Here is my review from last summer: https://grabthelapels.com/2016/07/25/green-gables/
    I missed you ladies by one year! I highlight some about Anne’s temper and how much I laughed.

    • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Yay! Thanks for linking up, Melanie! I’ll make certain your post is linked above, as well. We can’t figure out the link-up technology with our blogs. Go figure. I always love reading your posts because they are so insightful. You’re early, which is awesome. 🙂

      • Grab the Lapels May 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm

        Explain what kind of technology you want to happen, and maybe I can help. I’m a lil #techie sometimes.

        • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm

          We were trying to use a Link-Up tool of some variety. But, both of us have self-hosted blogs and we can’t get Inlinkz to function, or the Linky Widget to work correctly. Jane’s doing the research into correcting that for us, but we might just try embedding a Google form to replace a proper link up in the future?

          • Grab the Lapels May 26, 2017 at 7:33 pm

            Hmmm, I’m not sure on self-hosted blogs. Sorry!

            • Jackie B May 29, 2017 at 1:28 pm

              That’s no problem at all! There are pros and cons to both, in the end. I’ll take what I’ve got. 🙂

  • Laila@BigReadingLife May 25, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Loved your thoughts. I’m almost done reading it and will post about it sometime over the weekend. I agree, the character development is really good!

    • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Yay! I’m glad you agree. That said, I’m a bit nervous that character development will wane as the books progress since so much was covered in this book. But we’ll see what happens!
      I’m so glad you’re joining us, Laila! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

  • KrystiYAandWine May 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Great review! I loved reading your thoughts. I need to re-read this, and I’m so excited to watch the show!

    • Jackie B May 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks, Krysti! When was the last time you read this book? I’ve heard mixed reviews about the show– but I think part of that is I have a mixed audience providing me feedback. Some people read and loved the book, others never read the book, and yet another group of people read the book as a child and didn’t connect to it. I look forward to hearing what your thoughts on the show are.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom May 28, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Fabulous review Jackie!!! I think you really captured the core of why this book is so beloved by many. I also enjoyed watching Anne’s growth throughout the book from the carriage ride with Mathew to Green Gables until the end where she puts her dreams and aspirations on hold for Marilla. I also really enjoyed how you talked about how L.M. Mongomery shows the era while still adding in some progressive ideals for the time. There is just so much to love about this book!

    Here is my link for why I think people should give this book a go:

    https://cover2covermom.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/5-reasons-why-you-should-read-anne-of-green-gables-my-aogg-aesthetic-annereadalong2017

    • Jackie B May 30, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Thanks, Amanda! I appreciate your kind words. It’s a bit mind-blowing to think of how much Anne has grown when you explain it that way. I almost completely forgot that she was that lost little orphan Matthew picked up from the train station… I can’t even imagine where this series will go in the future! The joy of reading something wonderful for the first time is not lost on me, that’s for certain.

      I’ve added your link above. We’re so excited that you joined us for the first book!

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