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.
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
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?