#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of Avonlea

June 14, 2017
Anne of Avonlea Book Cover Anne of Avonlea
Anne of Green Gables, #2
L. M. Montgomery
Historical Fiction
Puffin Classics
December 1st, 1997
Paperback
336
Owned
1909

At sixteen, Anne is grown up...almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else's romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.

(via Goodreads)

 

Oh, Anne. You are so incredibly endearing. Continuing my #AnneReadAlong2017, I ventured into Anne of Avonlea. While I am still completely in love with Anne Shirley herself, as well as Miss Lavendar and Paul Irving, there are a few more things I struggled with in this novel compared to the first.

First of all, the addition of Davy and Dora felt a bit forced. It was like Montgomery needed to replace the innocence and mischief of younger Anne,  so she introduced these characters to provide more of that child-like wonder into the story. Davy feels in many ways like a plot device to help Marilla break down her set ways even more. He does contribute to quite a bit of Anne’s character development, but it felt unnecessary since Anne could have gotten that from her students at Avonlea School. It’s not Davy’s mischievous nature I found problematic, but his cruelty to Dora and how Marilla and Anne react to that. While Anne’s scrapes in the previous book had been born out of acting without thinking or her quick temper, Davy’s actions are thought-out and deliberate. He likes making trouble and causing people distress.

“I think,” concluded Anne, hitting on a very vital truth, “that we will always love best the people who need us.”

Then there is his sister Dora. Dora is more often ignored as she is a quiet, unobtrusive, and obedient child. She is consistently fading into the background. Anne spent quite a bit of the first book describing her neglect, emotionally and spiritually, as an orphan. It’s heartbreaking to see that now Anne seemingly neglects Dora in a similar manner. Yes, Anne realizes that she might have an unfair and careless attitude towards Dora, but once this thought is acknowledged she never does strive to make amends for this. There is a wonderful opportunity here for Anne to impart life lessons to Dora and develop a relationship here, but it flies by without acknowledgment. Montgomery’s decision to introduce orphan twins, while paralleling Anne’s own history, was overall a disappointing choice.

Diana is also put into a poorer light in this novel. Her weight is suddenly a huge deal. While this makes sense as something appropriate for Diana and Anne to worry about, I was disappointed in Montgomery’s execution. Diana and Anne wail regularly about their vanity. While Diana reassures Anne her 7 freckles are adorable, Anne never once reassures Diana that her weight doesn’t mean anything. After how progressive the first novel felt with women in politics and becoming educated, I was a bit shocked at this portrayal. I can forgive it a bit, as this book was written in 1909… but it breaks my heart.

Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us. 

Finally, after how charming and beautiful Anne of Green Gables was, Anne of Avonlea fell a bit flat. Anne and her friends still had some marvelous adventures– but overall this felt like more of the same, only not as wonder-filled. Part of this is the age that Anne is at and where her experiences are. She’s in an awkward stage between childhood and adulthood. She hasn’t quite become fully independent, though she strives a bit for it. As a result, this book felt a bit like time was just passing for Anne before her adult life really begins.

That said, I still really enjoyed Anne of Avonlea. Anne’s adventures are thought-provoking and teach quite a few good lessons. Anne’s exploits as a teacher and as part of the Avonlea Village Improvement Society are relatable, humorous, and endearing.  I do love meeting the new cast of characters, as well (Miss Lavendar and Paul Irving both weaseled their way into my heart, for sure). In fact, Montgomery introduced the perspective of a few new characters as narrators to help us understand better how Avonlea views Anne Shirley. I had already realized that Anne thought less of herself than most others, but I didn’t realize by how much. These interactions and perspectives really caught my interest. Anne herself has weaseled her way into the hearts of all of Avonlea, it seems.

“Having adventures comes natural to some people,” said Anne serenely.  “You just have a give for them or you haven’t. 

I’d be remiss if this review went without mentioning Montgomery’s writing. As with the previous book, the prose in Anne of Avonlea is gorgeous. I don’t think in pictures and I struggle to visualize most things. But Montgomery’s style provides me a clear pastoral picture of Prince Edward Island through Anne’s eyes. It’s beautiful, and I am now looking quite forward to visiting some day. Her prose also inspires me to be a bit more forgiving to the people in my life– while Anne herself might come across as a bit saccharine, I don’t find it overwhelming. Instead, her moods and passions cause me to reflect on my own interpretation of life. Thanks to Montgomery’s brilliant writing, Anne is an inspiration to me.

I know there is more to come from Anne Shirley (and Gilbert Blithe!) in the upcoming books. I look forward to continuing my reading of this series and I hope the next book hooks me even more. 

Are you participating in #AnneReadAlong2017? If so, post the link to your review below and we’ll add you to the list! You can also join us on Twitter with the hashtag #AnneReadAlong2017 and by commenting and discussing on all the Anne series reviews. Finally, we would love you to join our Top 5 list postings as well! We look forward to interacting with you!


Other Anne of Avonlea Reviews

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

Melanie @ Grab the Lapels

Naomi @ Consumed by Ink

Kathryn @ The Book Date


What do you think?

  • Have you read Anne of Avonlea? What do you think of this book?
  • What books do you love which have some challenging, difficult, or poorly represented content you struggle with?
  • Are you participating in our #AnneReadAlong2017? What are you looking for in this read along?

37 Comments

  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel June 14, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I love the Anne books and would love to re-read them one day (Time! Where art thou?). I have not read Montgomery’s Emily series and would love to try them out before re reading Anne. I am glad Anne is inspiring you. She is a charming girl indeed.

    • Jackie B June 15, 2017 at 10:22 am

      Right? It’s like time just vanishes when I’m not looking. There are so many books to read and so little time in the day. I blame having to work. 😉
      I haven’t read the Emily series either- this is my first romp into Montgomery’s work. Why are you interested in reading the Emily books first?

      • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel June 15, 2017 at 10:26 am

        I am not reading them first. I have already read Anne. So I want to read Emily before re reading Anne

        • Jackie B June 15, 2017 at 11:30 am

          Right– I mean what is inspiring you to get to those books before re-reading Anne? Are you hoping to compare/contrast, are you prioritizing new books first, something else? I’m just curious. 😀

          • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel June 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm

            Not really. Just the simple reason of wanting to read a book that is said to be good. That’s all

            • Jackie B June 15, 2017 at 12:28 pm

              *That* as as good a reason as any. 🙂

  • Laila@BigReadingLife June 14, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I am not reading your review until I finish reading the book, but I’m glad that you enjoyed it enough to give it three stars! I’ll come back to this in a few days!

    • Jackie B June 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks, Laila! I completely understand that. Don’t let my star ranking confuse you; I really enjoyed reading this book! There were a few things I struggled with… and I might have had a bit of a book hangover post-Anne of Green Gables, too. 😉 I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  • KrystiYAandWine June 14, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    So glad you’re enjoying your read along. I’ve never read these. I think I’ve mentioned that before. But the fact that you say that the prose is excellent has me intrigued. I was thinking they would be more childlike and less literary, which, I mean, look at me being a literary snob. Not cool! I really need to read these!

    • Jackie B June 15, 2017 at 10:33 am

      It’s really beautiful writing. I would say that there are certainly moments which are more child-like, but the book is more pastoral in the writing style than anything else, really. It takes me longer to read these books than higher age level books, too. I think it’s just the older style. But it’s so romantic. I would definitely encourage you to read Anne of Green Gables at some point at the very least. It’s a classic for a reason– and an accessible one!

  • Naomi June 15, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Interesting thoughts on Davy and Dora. When I was young and first read the book, I was mad that Davy and Dora were moving in with Marilla. To me it felt like a betrayal to Anne (although I didn’t really have the words for it – I just remember feeling jealous of them on her behalf… even though Anne didn’t seem to be). When I re-read the books later, I was okay with it – I feel like it’s Montgomery’s way of giving Marilla some love in the house for when Anne is ready to move away. There is definitely a big gender stereotype problem between Davy and Dora… but I won’t get into that. 🙂
    Here’s a link to my review: https://consumedbyink.ca/2015/03/01/green-gables-readalong-anne-of-avonlea/

    • Jackie B June 16, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      You’re right– it’s a good way for Montgomery to also keep us attached to Marilla and Green Gables in a relevant way once Anne moves out. I’m really interested to see how these kids grow and develop. The gender stereotype I *almost* missed because I was too busy being frustrated with Anne, honestly. I really hope that as I keep reading these books we’ll see them grow out of these fairly flat stereotypes. Though, I never think I’ll like Davy… Oops.

      Thanks for sharing your review, Naomi! I can’t wait to read it and link it above. 🙂

  • Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf June 15, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Great review, my friend!

    I felt the same way about Diana’s portrayal in this novel. She just felt more flat to me. But also she grew up a bit faster than Anne with her romance with Fred. I really love Davy, actually. I think he is ridiculous and over the top with his questions and antics. But I guess I fell under his spell like Marilla and Anne 🙂

    Book three does have a lot more changes in it because Anne goes to college. That was fun to read. Now to go write that review so I don’t get the books too muddled in my head 🙂

    Having so much fun hosting with you 🙂

    • Jackie B June 16, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      D’aw… shucks. Thanks, Jane! I enjoy hosting with you, too. 😀

      Ha– I can completely understand how you might get the books muddled in your head. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I’m traveling and reading. Perhaps I’ll only read Anne of the Island instead of pushing through multiple books… After all, I won’t have my lappy with me! I can’t wait to read your Anne of the Island review, even if I have to wait until July. 😉 It’s important to stay on schedule, right? Ha!

      I look forward to seeing how Diana and Davy both change throughout the next few books. I don’t hold anything against you for loving Davy. He’s definitely polarizing, though! Everyone seems to have strong feelings about him; no one is lukewarm there. I hope to see him grow up into a wonderful young gentleman.

      • Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf June 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm

        Haha. I have read Anne of the Island but I am waiting on the next one. I need to write my review first! haha. Yes, Davy does seem to be either a love or hate character. Hoping he turns out well too 🙂

  • theorangutanlibrarian June 15, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    I agree about this one- it definitely felt like Anne preparing for adult life in this one and it felt a little bit like a filler- I think this was probably the weakest I’ve read so far- so hopefully you’ll like the next one too!!

    • Jackie B June 16, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      I’m so glad that I’m not alone here! Sometimes, I get a bit anxious telling the world I don’t like their classic favorite novels. O_o Oh well, to each their own!

  • Grab the Lapels June 16, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Oh, no, you suffer from “even books syndrome,” too! All the odd books are fantastic, and all the even books feel like passing time. Many of the evenly-numbered books were written later at the demand of her fans, and I think it shows. Book 8 is the exception to the “even books syndrome.” I added my Anne link on Jane’s page

    • Jackie B June 20, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Hahaha! This is an amazing syndrome. I probably do suffer from that! I should reflect back on my series reading and see if there is a trend. I also wonder if that will continue throughout my reading of Anne? We shall see!

      • Grab the Lapels June 20, 2017 at 9:57 am

        I double checked the publication dates, and I was wrong. Anne of Avonlea WAS published second. But check this out, the order in which you are supposed to read the books compared to the publication dates:

        Anne of Green Gables (1908)
        Anne of Avonlea (1909)
        Anne of the Island (1915)
        Anne of Windy Poplars (1936)
        Anne’s House of Dreams (1917)
        Anne of Ingleside (1939)
        Rainbow Valley (1919)
        Rilla of Ingleside ((1921)

        • Jackie B June 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

          Now *that* is fascinating. I will totally write a blog post about that. I am definitely intrigued as to why the writing order is so crazy (other than the aforementioned). There couldn’t be that much downtime between Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams, could there? I will find out with time!

          Thanks for enlightening me, Melanie. I must research avidly now. 😀

          • Grab the Lapels June 21, 2017 at 10:28 am

            Naomi at Consumed by Ink is really the lady to ask. She knows way more about LMM than I do. She even read the latest Anne book, which was only published a couple of years ago. The manuscript was lost after LMM died, but it finally got published. What I do know is that LMM sometimes wrote for money more than love of writing. Her husband was mentally disabled, so she had to make money during a time when women didn’t do that. The Anne series already had a built-in fan base demanding more and more of Anne and Gilbert. I believe Naomi has even read some of LMM’s diaries. She wrote a lot of those, too–several books worth.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom June 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    While I think I enjoyed AoA a tad more than you did, I definitely agree with many of the points you bring up. It did feel more like a “filler book” before Anne reaches adulthood. I was also a little annoyed with Davy, and horrified at how he treated Dora… I know siblings fight and aren’t always the nicest to each other, but locking her in a barn?! AND no one really cared?!?! WHAT!
    I actually wish Davy and Dora had been students at Anne’s school as opposed to wards in their home… I think it would have felt a little less forced like you said.

    Like Jane, I was disappointed with how some of our old favorites are not as present in this book. The big one being Diana. Anne and Diana’s friendship was one of my favorite aspects in AoGG 🙁

    I still really enjoyed this one (4 stars) BUT of course it didn’t live up to AoGG.

    • Jackie B June 21, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      I completely agree with you that having Dora and Davy in school with Anne would have been more interesting. I think I wanted more from their experiences in school in general, actually. There were some great moments, but Anne’s “career” felt like a side note.

      Will you continue to read along? I wonder if we’ll like Anne of the Island any more or less?

      • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom June 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        I’m about 60% into Anne of the Island and can already tell you I am enjoying it more than AoA! There have been one or two annoyances, and one part of the book is going to disturb cat lovers, BUT I’m really enjoying her college escapades 🙂

        • Jackie B July 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm

          I’m so glad! I finished Anne of the Island on my vacation and I definitely enjoyed it more than book two. I am looking forward to publishing my review, too. There are some great lessons in here!

  • AvalinahsBooks June 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

    The curls! Again! Where are they!!! Oh those evil publishers. WHY do they ignore out existence T_T
    Okay, I’m done whining now 😀

    I started this one, but I’ll be behind againnnn… Somehow just stopped reading, although I’ll be getting back to it. Haven’t hit the point where I am into the book. It’s a hard transition for me, that Anne’s suddenly all grown up. One minute she’s a child, and now everyone’s suddenly listening to her and not calling on her for everything little quirk they used to point out. It’s too much of a change for me, so quickly.

    Not gonna read your review much yet though, because I can see a lot of names I haven’t even seen 😀 I’ll read it when I’m done.

    • Jackie B June 21, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      We will never be silenced. Curls for life.

      Pft, you can read at whatever pace works for you. No pressure read along, for sure. One thing I’ll mention from my review is that this book felt like a bit of filler for me. I agree that it look me a while to get into this as well. I’ve been told that things improve, particularly on the Gilbert/Anne front, however. 😉 I encourage you to keep trying! There are definitely some adorable stories and antics which happen in this book– just not as consistently as the first one.

      • Evelina June 22, 2017 at 7:55 am

        Yeah, I’m like only 15% in, and yet it totally feels like filler. You’ve got it on the dot.

        • Jackie B June 22, 2017 at 8:15 am

          I believe in you!

  • Shouni June 21, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I’m sorry you didn’t like this one as much as the first one but it seems like you liked it enough. Maybe because I read this when I was really young, I didn’t pick up on some of the things you pointed out (like Dora going through emotional neglect). I don’t think I ever warmed up to Davy and Dora because to my twelve year old self, Green Gables belonged to only one child and that was Anne 😀 . Yes! I remember Diana complaining about her weight though I had forgotten which book it was in.I can see why that would bother people, especially Anne not countering Diana when Diana clearly felt a little insecure. It seems like I really do need to reread this. Your reviews are resurfacing my memories of these books though! 😀

    • Jackie B June 30, 2017 at 1:57 am

      Thanks, Shouni! I’m certain younger Jackie would have felt totally different about Davy and Dora. I’m almost done with Anne of the Island and Davy is certainly growing on me. I do love the phrase “emotional neglect” to explain how I felt Dora was being treated. You are much more articulate than I am!

      You are welcome to join our read along as a re-read along, you know. No pressure, of course. There are so many amazing things to get out of a re-read. I think that Diana gets better in future books- perhaps you’ll remember it?

      • Shouni July 3, 2017 at 6:57 pm

        Awww, you make me blush (I can guarantee you I am not an articulate person but I will take the compliment anyway 🙂 ). I’m planning on rereading the books but I probably won’t be able to start until August so it’ll be too late by then. Thank you for the offer though! Reading your reviews is a good memory refresher.

  • Kathryn June 24, 2017 at 12:28 am

    I didn’t analyse the book as much as yourself but on the whole I enjoyed it. I laughed often at some of the happenings and didn’t angst much about anything. I listened to an audio version. I actually really liked Davy and was not so keen on Paul! My review http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/2017/06/anne-of-avonlea-l-m-montgomery.html

    • Jackie B June 29, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks for linking up, Kathryn! (I’m in Croatia right now, but when I return I’m get your post linked up properly!!)

      It makes me smile quite a lot that you called my post analytical. Thank you! I’ll take that as a compliment. I love reactionary posts quite a bit, but I really wanted to put some meaning behind this post. You’re right though, I should stop letting the little things get to me about the details.
      How was the audio version? What about Paul did you struggle with?

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