After reading, and being a bit disappointed with, Anne of Avonlea I wasn’t expecting much from Anne of the Island. I had expected that the magic and charm of Anne of Green Gables faded after book one; that it was all a fluke! Thank goodness I kept reading. What I found in the pages of Anne of the Island is a renewed focus on Anne, her growth, adjustments to the nomadic feeling of college life, and finally– to her love life.
Covering all four years of Anne’s college life, Anne of the Island feels very similar to the original novel but well steeped in the growth which occurs during college. I am fascinated that early 1900’s college life was so similar to my own experience. Now, they didn’t stop at Flying Pizza at 3 am for some munchies on the way back from the bar, but these lovely ladies did develop deep friendships, struggle with studies, and come to terms with what is expected of them versus what they really want from life. While this is very much Anne’s story, the four girls all living in Patty’s Place are featured in some way. Each girl is reconciling what it means to be an educated woman in an age where you were just expected to become a wife. Is that really their goal? I could relate deeply to these trials and tribulations — even the silly and vapid ones! After all, I was a college girl once too.
‘All life lessons are not learned at college,’ she thought. ‘Life teaches them everywhere.’
I was almost shocked by some of the events Anne experiences in this book. Anne has to learn quite a few hard lessons. One of the characters dies from consumption which is deeply sad. But it’s fascinating watching the characters of Green Gables cope with this and try to move on in their lives. It’s a very different kind of death than
While there are, as is to be expected of an Anne novel, some amazing life lessons steeped in tenderness and vitality, I would be amiss to ignore the hilarious moments. I appreciate the introduction of Phillipa (Phil) Gordon to the crew. She might be the definition of vapid and silly, but she warmed my heart greatly. Yes, she might have participated in accidental animal abuse (please forgive me, friends, for laughing at the poor cat), but she was trying. I’m so glad to see that we had a new character to balance out Anne as she grows into a mature woman.
“Miss Carson is a very fine girl. There is no nonsense about her.”
“That doesn’t sound very attractive,” laughed Anne, “I like people to have a little nonsence about them.”
It’s impossible to discuss Anne of the Island without mentioning the budding relationships. All of the ladies living in Patty’s Place are of an age where romance is at its peak. These well-educated women are all deciding how they feel about the men in their lives and what to do about these feelings. I appreciate the diversity of their reactions not only to each other but to their own feelings. We also get to see how all the other characters feel about these choices, too. No one gets left alone! I was in my 30’s when I got engaged, so I can relate to Anne’s trials at home in the summer– everyone always whispering about when she’ll get married, to whom, and how it will all happen. It is certainly frustrating. But I do adore watching Anne grow into herself when it comes to relationships. Her imagination has completely clouded most of the relationships in her life and it’s a long and painful (but sometimes humorous!) journey to finding her true self. Watching Anne lie to herself in order to keep her dreams and imagination intact was painful, but so real. So very, very real.
“I do know my own mind,” protested Anne, “The trouble is, my mind changes and then I have to get acquainted with it over again.”
One of the things I adore most about Montgomery’s writing is how she balances work and play, stress and relaxation, seriousness and levity. It’s hard to pin a single theme down in this novel. So much happens to everyone! But at the core, all our characters are coming into their own finally. I am in awe of how Montgomery’s characters are somehow simple yet complex at the same time. They feel very three-dimensional. The experiences Montgomery provides her characters reflect real life in a visceral way. It’s easy to see how each of these moments, both serious and hilarious, could be a part of everyone’s life. Some of the chapters were less engaging to me, such as Anne’s time substituting in Valley Road. But that’s life, isn’t it? There are ups and downs, intense moments and quiet ones. Anne’s four college years truly reflected that part of reality. I quite appreciate it.
I have a dream. I persis in dreaming it, althought it has often seemed to me that it could never come true.
In the end, this book has certainly risen up next to Anne of Green Gables. Honestly, Anne of the Island is my favorite of the three books I’ve read thus far. I look forward to continuing the series and watching Anne grow into a strong woman.
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Other Anne of the Island Reviews
What do you think?
- Have you read Anne of the Island? What do you think of this book?
- When was the last time to read an older book you could really relate to? What book is it and what did you relate most to?
- Do you prefer young-school-girl Anne or older-college-girl Anne? Why?
- What do you look for when you participate in a read-along?