#AnneReadAlong2017 : 5 Things I Wish I Could Change About the Anne Series

September 29, 2017

I have come to ADORE Anne Shirley and the Anne of Green Gables books. Yet, as uplifting and wonderful as these tales are, nothing is ever perfect.  Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf and I have taken some time this week to reflect on how we might improve upon the Anne of Green Gables series– specifically, what we would love to change about these books. Montgomery creates a beautiful world for Anne to grow up in, but there are a few things which don’t sit well with me, as you’ll see below.

Feel free to join in our Top 5 List posts and link up below. Our schedule is merely recommended– you’re welcome to join in whatever you’d like whenever you’d like!

And without further ado…


Top 5 Things I Wish I Could Change About the Anne Series


1 – Diana Barry’s obsession with her weight

Diana Barry is never really described in a fashion which would imply she is overweight. Yet, starting in Anne of Avonlea, Diana begins to lament over how large she has grown. This continues throughout the rest of the series, too! She never gets over it, even when Anne tells her everything is okay and Diana is beautiful. I understand that this book series was written in a different time. But Montgomery was so ahead of her time when it came to so many things– it would have been nice for Diana’s weight to merely be described to us instead of a recurring lamentation. 


2 – The Death of Matthew Cuthbert

Okay, spoilers for book 1. My bad. But seriously– I felt like the death of Anne’s father figure was completely unnecessary. I adore Matthew and how he broke down Marilla’s walls and helped Anne grow into the person she is today. His death merely was a way to keep Anne in Avonlea to teach, but honestly, Montgomery could have just found another way for Anne to take that teaching job. It makes me sad that as future books are read no one steps into the void Matthew left in Anne’s life. It might even be implied that Montgomery felt father figures were unnecessary.


3 – The Book-Long Absences of our Avonlea Friends

A recurring theme for the “odd-numbered books”, Anne’s gang of friends and family from Avonlea quickly take a backseat. I don’t mind as much when Anne and Gilbert get married and move off to Four Winds, but when Anne is still in the same township I struggled with it. I still crave more about Anne’s relationship with the girls she grows up with. Or, even Dora and Davy! Miss Lavandar? Paul? Anyone?! I feel like there were so many amazing moments untapped. Alas. It was not to be.


4 – Anne Shirley Gives Up Writing

Anne grows up and becomes a fully devoted wife and mother, dedicating herself to penning “living epistles” by raising her flock of children. But… seriously? It feels by the time we get here, Montgomery has gotten bitter and jealous of the life Anne leads. Instead of continuing her pursuits as a writer, Anne drops it all completely to become a mother. There’s nothing wrong with being a full-time Mom, but dropping her passion for writing feels completely un-Anne-like! I wish Anne had at least continued to pen children’s stories or something.


5 – The treatment of Dora Keith

Okay. This is my biggest problem with the Anne of Green Gables series. Be prepared– this will be a bit of a soapbox. Dora and her twin brother Davy are adopted when they are 6-years-old by Marilla Cuthbert after their father, a cousin of Marilla’s, dies. Dora is a quiet, unobtrusive and obedient child. Davy is a devious child whose acts of malice are thought-out and deliberate. He enjoys making trouble and causing people distress, particularly if that person is his sister Dora. But no one ever comes to Dora’s aid! In fact, many people comment to themselves how much more they love Davy than Dora. Dora just fades into the background as the “unremarkable” perfect child.

And yet. Dora is also an orphan like Anne. Anne spends a long chunk of Anne of Avonlea considering the neglect, emotionally and spiritually, she felt growing up. This is the perfect opportunity for Anne to reach out to Dora and love her. Montgomery sets her characters up to provide a strong moral lesson about learning from the past and helping others. It just never comes to fruition. Poor Dora is stunted in so many ways. Growing up in the same environment as Anne Shirley no one came to her aid throughout any of the following books. In the end, Dora grows up far too quickly, and even fears become an old maid because of the social pressure and comments from the world around her.  I’m heartbroken over this whole ordeal.



Other Top 5 Things I Wish I Could Change About the Anne Series

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

Krysta @ Pages Unbound

What do you think?

  • What would you like to change about the Anne series?
  • What on my list do you agree or disagree with? Why?
  • Did you create a Top 5 post? Link up below!


  • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks September 29, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about poor Matthew ;_; to me, that’s number one! And Dora’s treatment as well. What’s wrong with being a good, well-behaved child? Not everyone can and should have an overactive imagination. I felt extremely sorry for Dora as well.
    Now that my books have arrived though, I’ll get back to the series!!! YAY!

    • Jackie B October 3, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Right?! I wonder if Montgomery never expected the books to continue… I imagine she expected this to be the end of the Anne series and therefore Matthew’s death was totally appropriate.

      I’m super excited to hear what you think of this series as you continue! Hopefully, it will continue to capture your heart.

  • Greg Hill September 30, 2017 at 3:06 am

    I’ve never read these books but I know people who have and swear by them. And it does look like a wonderful series to grow up with. The treatment of Dora does sound like really a shame though, and I can see where the missing Avonlea gang could be frustrating too, as it sounds like there are so many relationship opportunities to read about there.

    I love those covers too, they’re so imaginative.


    • Jackie B October 3, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks, Greg! These are some wonderful books if you’re looking for an uplifting story. Anne Shirley herself is such a fascinating character.

      I could rant in a full post about how frustrated I am with the treatment of Dora. I think this is the most significant missed opportunity in the whole series. Dora is just re-living all the terrible things Anne lived. Ugh. So frustrating.

      I also adore these covers. I feel like they really embody the imaginative, light-hearted, pastoral feelings which are portrayed in these novels.

      Thanks for stopping by! It’s great to see you again. 😀

  • Grab the Lapels October 1, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Part of me wonders what the whole series would look like if Anne and Gilbert lived in Avonlea. We could have seen more about Diana, her siblings, the various children… But I think it would have gotten stale. Diana is a kind friend, but she’s not intellectually ambitious or particularly passionate about anything but boys and babies. That’s fine, but not 8 books fine. Plus, we’d be around as readers for so many deaths…

    • Jackie B October 5, 2017 at 9:22 am

      I definitely agree with you that the whole series staying in Avonlea would have eventually gotten dry or repetitive. But in my head, when I think of the early 1900’s, I think of women taking WEEKS of “vacation” to spend time with an aunt or uncle or friend. Why couldn’t the characters of Avonlea gone to visit Anne? Or the other way around? I just don’t know the culture the way I think I do. This is what I get for learning everything through reading. 😉

      I wonder if the Blythes had stayed in Avonlea if we would have been done after book 5? What would come next? Who knows. Anyway, I wouldn’t give up the characters from Four Winds to save my life. They are so wonderful!

      • Grab the Lapels October 5, 2017 at 10:05 am

        Oh, that’s a good point about weeks of vacation! Also, I have read the new book about the Blythes, but Consumed By Ink has; she’s an LMM wizard.

        • Jackie B October 8, 2017 at 10:38 am

          She really is! I’ve been checking out quite a few of her posts lately. I didn’t realize there was a new book about the Blythes– I’ll have to check that out once I finish reading these books! I don’t have many feelings about they as a family yet, but I’m sure I will soon!

  • KrystiYAandWine October 1, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I haven’t read these obviously, but your suggestions for improving the series definitely seem like ones I would agree with. Particularly the character complaining about her weight and Anne giving up on her writing. Those two things, though probably historically accurate, would drive me batty.

    Great post! 🙂

    • Jackie B October 5, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Thank you, Krysti! It’s amazing how we lose tolerance for our history so quickly. But I think that’s a great sign of societal progression.

      • KrystiYAandWine October 5, 2017 at 10:50 pm

        That’s a great point. It’s so hard to try to judge a book based on the times in which it was written and not by our current standards and norms.

  • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer October 1, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    The point about Dora is the most disturbing to me Jackie. Anne doesn’t seem to be the type to me to neglect that child… while I believe Anne may have had her priorities change as she’s grown older so that writing is no longer the draw it was NO WAY would she see how Dora was treated as right, nor could she have done nothing! Though my instincts tingled, hahhhha, and I wonder if Montgomery wanted the focus to be on how not every orphan can overcome their situation… there is a tragic reality to it that I can see Montgomery liking. This is definitely something I struggle with when reading books sometimes… I dislike when author agendas supersede character history and personality. Everything should arise naturally from the characters to my mind… as a writer! As for Matthew dying (I had no idea that was ALL in book 1!) I was heartbroken but it felt right to me. He saw her through becoming a woman… as I felt he promised her when he took her home that day even though she was a girl. (Again the writer in me!) THOUGH AS A READER I FEEL HIS DEATH WA# A TRAVESTY OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE! ♥️ Such a well thought out list Jackie! Seriously I feel like every major series we love may have a small list like this and I see your fandom for the series shining through!

    • Jackie B October 6, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Yup! Your Anne graphic novel covered the entirety of book 1! I’m super impressed; that must have been one large graphic novel!

      The whole thing about Dora is really confusing. I hope that someday you’ll read Anne of Avonlea if only for this concept. There are so many little subtle things which make me think that this is an appropriate reaction from Anne– but I’m still horrified by it. See, Anne is all about misadventures and daydreams, but Dora is all about expectations and setting a good example. She’s a tiny grown-up, so I can understand how Anne would look past Dora’s personality to that of her twin, Davy. That said– you think Anne would connect with the terrible things Dora is going through?! Ugh. I want you to tell me what you think about this. Maybe it’s natural? Maybe it’s not? I’m so conflicted!!!

      DANI. As a writer you would have let Matthew die?! Shame! The reader in you is my favorite. I mean, I understand how there should be drama– but… poor Anne. Hell, poor Green Gables! Poor Avonlea! I would have loved to watch Matthew grow with Marilla and Anne. He had so much more to give!

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reflect on my list. It was a challenge to put together (as I adore this series so much)– but it’s nice to hear some challenges and reflections from my peers.

      • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer October 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm

        Gah Jackie! I love talking books with you, your passionate questioning inspires me ♥️ I think next year I’m going to challenge myself to read the entire series of some series and Anne may be one of them… though I am rather interested in all the Japanese versions too!

        • Jackie B October 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

          D’aw. Thank you. 🙂

          I love reading full series. It always helps me become a stronger writer. I hope that you get a few knocked off for next year!

  • buriedinprint October 2, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    You’re obviously a huge Anne fan. Have you also read LMM’s journals, covering her experiences writing them? I feel like that goes a long way towards explaining some of your concerns. Although obviously there are some parts of some stories that we, as readers, simply will always wish were different. When I was a girl, I used to skip that chapter about Matthew in AOGG – I just hated it and cried every single time!

    • Jackie B October 6, 2017 at 11:21 pm

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, BuriedInPrint!

      I am definitely becoming a huge Anne fan. This read along is the first time I’ve read these books and all of them are really connecting with me. Particularly with all the challenging moments in the news/world right now it’s quite refreshing to read about Anne Shirley’s life.

      Oooh, I haven’t read her journals! I’ll definitely add them to my TBR. Would you recommend I read the Complete or Selected Journals? I love reading journal entries, but I tend to struggle with some memoirs…

      I’m glad that I’m not alone when it comes to crying about Matthew’s death! So tragic.

      • buriedinprint October 12, 2017 at 9:42 am

        Regarding which of the editions of the journals to try, I would suggest whichever one is easiest for you to access as a loan and then determine how much you enjoy them. Once you open the door, you might find you do want all-the-details but the selected versions certainly cover the main points. I’ve heard the editors speak on more than one occasion about the process they went through, when they were forced to cut for length, and they do a fine job of capturing the spirit of things, which might be quite enough to fill in the gaps (but each of them has also published an additional volume about LMM which is also fascinating, if you find that you enjoy reading beyond-Anne). It is a particularly comforting world to revisit nowadays, but also interesting to see that LMM, too, faces distress about political and military decisions as the series wends onwards. I hope you continue to find much to enjoy/inspire!

        • Jackie B October 15, 2017 at 3:20 pm

          That’s a great point. I do love my local library. And, after a brief search, it turns out that they only have the selected journals. Looks like I’m starting there!

          A good editor is essential for content like this. I am excited to see what they might add, as well. Thanks for the tips! I also hope I find these wonderful reads.

  • Krysta October 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Someone told me once that Montgomery said she’d have kept Matthew if she knew she’d write more books. It is one of the great tragedies of literature that she didn’t spare him. 🙁

    I thought Anne did sometimes write a story now and then? I guess it’s not often mentioned, though, so perhaps not. I don’t mind so much that Anne devotes herself to her family, though, because Montgomery also gives us Emily Starr, who pursues her career at all costs. I think she gave us two different paths women can take and said both are valuable and valid.

    • Jackie B October 8, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      !!! That’s wonderful news! Even though at this point it’s severe hearsay, I’ll still believe in it because I want to believe in it. I would have loved to see Anne’s experience with a father figure grow.

      Anne spoke quite a bit in Anne’s House of Dreams about how she shouldn’t be writing any longer– but I don’t know if she picks that up again once she has kids? I’m only reading this series for the first time. I will be starting Anne of Ingleside tomorrow. Hopefully she picks up her writing again!

      • Krysta October 8, 2017 at 8:04 pm

        Matthew is my favorite character. So I am understandably distressed that Montgomery did this to all of us. 🙁

        You’re probably right. I don’t know why I think Anne still did stories here and there. Maybe I just WISH she did!

  • theorangutanlibrarian October 7, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Aww yes I agree so much about Matthew’s death!! I just wish that wasn’t there (I mean, it pulled all the emotions out of me, so it was well done, but I just wish it happened- at least not so soon!)

    • Jackie B October 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      Agreed. I was actually really shocked at how upset I was over Matthew’s death! I didn’t know I was that connected to him until he was no longer the only real male character in the story. Loving father-figures are a weakness of mine, so I should have seen it coming.

      • theorangutanlibrarian October 10, 2017 at 8:30 am

        Me too! I didn’t expect it at all! Oh yes, I love that type of character too!

  • Shouni October 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I refuse to accept Matthew’s death, in my mind he died after seeing Anne’s first grandchild (but I completely agree, his death was unnecessary and there really were a number of other ways for Anne to stay in Avonlea). I don’t know if you’ll read the collection of short stories (The Blythes Are Quoted) about Anne as a grandmother and her family. It mentions that even though Anne stopped writing her stories, she continued to write poems all throughout her life which might make you feel a little better about her quitting her writing dream 🙂 .

    • Jackie B October 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      YES! THANK YOU! I shall now also refuse to accept his death. My life just improved. 🙂

      !!! I didn’t even KNOW there was a short story collection! Ooooh. I’ve just added it to my TBR. Thank you for the heads up! I will definitely check out The Blythes are Quoted. Do you enjoy that collection?

      And I’m so glad that Anne keeps writing– stories or poems, it doesn’t matter. I’m just glad pen stayed to paper. Thanks for the deets, Shouni.

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