#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of the Island

July 12, 2017
Anne of the Island Book Cover Anne of the Island
Anne of Green Gables, #3
L. M. Montgomery
Kindle Edition
October 11th, 2015

New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and frivolous new pal Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises...including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson. But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide if she's ready for love...

(via Goodreads)


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 that of Matthew in book 1 . The whole town knows it’s coming. Watching them mentally and physically prepare is a unique view into the human psyche. Anne also makes some egregious mistakes when it comes to her relationships with friends and butting into their lives. Painful to watch, but completely relatable. It’s so easy to make assumptions and push your mistakes onto others. There are quite a few mistakes I made in college I wish I could undo. Anne copes with all of these in a very relatable way. I was unable to put the book down during these moments; I wanted to know if Anne could learn where I didn’t.

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.


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 the Island Reviews

Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf

Melanie @ Grab the Lapels

Naomi @ Consumed by Link

Laila @ Big Reading Life

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?


  • Grab the Lapels July 12, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I had quite a lot to say about the cat in this novel! And the whole will she/won’t she with Gilbert had me on the edge of my seat, even though I KNEW they had to end up together. I think readers would have set L.M. Montgomery on fire if she had ruined such a class love story. I have a bit of bad news for you, though…Book #4 is a lot like Book #2. It’s mostly an epistolary (if not all, I can’t fully remember) novel between Gilbert and Anne. Have you seen the movie with Megan Follows? You know when she teaches those horrible children who are all part of a rich family? They appear in Book #4. It reads more like short stories, so if you go in with that mindset, it might be more enjoyable.

    Here is my link to my Book #3 review: https://grabthelapels.com/2016/08/03/island/

    p.s. I love how the titles of the books suggest where Anne is in relation to her location and maturity. Green Gables is her home, Avonlea is the town (so she’s bigger, more mature), Island gets her further from home but shows more maturity, etc.

    • Jackie B July 12, 2017 at 11:43 am

      I can’t wait to read your review. Thanks for sharing, Melanie! The whole cat thing caught me off guard, honestly. It certainly made me think about how sensibilities have changed since the 1900s.

      Ach. Thanks for mentally preparing me for book 4! I haven’t seen the Megan Follows mini series, I was planning on watching it in early 2018, once I’ve read all the books. It seems prudent, since I haven’t read these books before. Well– I do love me some epistolary novels. And this gives me great fodder to explain how book 4 was written sooooo many years later. But, most importantly, it will allow me to adjust my expectations. It looks like in this case it’s the even books I’ll struggle with!

      Your PS is so on point. I completely see it. Personally, I always thought of it as a representation of her mental state. Green Gables being magical, innocent, and dream-like. Avonlea as the school and part of an intentional community, both with the town and AVIS. And Anne of the Island as trying to come into her own, the loneliness of college, and her heart belonging back home instead of in Nova Scotia. I like your take better. 😉

      • Grab the Lapels July 12, 2017 at 12:49 pm

        Ha, thanks. It seemed like the first 3 books were basically showing how her “presence” was bigger because of the people she knew and who loved her. Then, when she moves to Ingleside, she’s very much, like, just Ingleside. But by those later books she’s in her 40s.

  • Birdie July 12, 2017 at 10:55 am

    You make me wish I were rereading this series!

    • Jackie B July 12, 2017 at 11:24 am

      You can always jump back in and join us! We’d love to have you. But no pressure– it’s a fun read, for sure!

      • Birdie July 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm

        I think I will eventually, but currently my blogging schedule is too heavy to try and squeeze anything in.

  • Naomi July 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I’m so glad you loved this book. It’s one of my favourites (for all the reasons you mention above in your thoughtful review). It’s so true what you say about how LMM is able to balance “work and play, stress and relaxation, seriousness and levity” so well. One of the things I like most about this book is Anne’s time spent in Kingsport and at Redmond. A refreshing change of scenery and a new mix of characters and experiences. And like Melanie says above, I love how the books have me on the edge of my seat even though I know how it’s going to turn out. 🙂

    If you feel discouraged by book #4, don’t give up, because #5 is another good one (at least, in my opinion)! Although there are some great parts in Windy Poplars – Rebecca Dew, for one.

    Here’s a link to my review:

    • Jackie B July 13, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Oh, I won’t give up- I’m too far in at this point to consider that. But I am hoping #4 still speaks well to me as it was sorta “fit in” after the fact. Sometimes these little additions add amazing detail and life to a world.

      Also- it means a lot to me that you enjoy this book for a lot of the reasons I mentioned. You are certainly the Montgomery expert in my community, and that makes me feel like I *get it*. I look forward to reading your review, Naomi. Thank you for participating!!

  • Laila@BigReadingLife July 13, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I read the first and last part of your review but I skipped the middle because I haven’t yet started reading number 3! I’m going to start it soon, though, in time to squeak in my review by the end of the month. 🙂 But I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ve heard that the odd books in the series are better than the even ones. An intriguing theory – I’m looking forward to seeing if it plays out. I’ll come back to your review later in the month!

    • Jackie B July 17, 2017 at 11:24 am

      I totally understand that– no pressure. I’m so impressed you read any of it! I often skip reading book reviews I know I’ll read shortly. Kudos to you!

      That certainly *is* an interesting theory. If you look at the publication dates, you can see that many of the even numbered books were written after the series was “finished”. They just pop in to fill in place. That said, Anne of Avonlea certainly was written second. So, who knows?! I hope to write something about this once I’ve read more of the books to explore this idea further.

      I hope you enjoy it when you get to this book, Laila!

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea July 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    I am happy this one was more redeeming for you. It has been so long since I completed the series that I fear I cannot offer very accurate insight, but I do remember my enthusiasm fluctuating a bit as Anne grew. Although there is this spirit within the innocence of youth that becomes harder to capture as characters grow older I think. Lovely review Jackie 🙂

    • Jackie B July 31, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks, Danielle! You’re right– I’m certain that as Anne grows up she will lose some of the magic which makes her, well, her. Or, if she doesn’t, I’m a bit afraid that she’ll come across as silly and distracted. Anne Shirley will be a challenging character to age gracefully, I think.

      Do you happen to remember if you read the books in the published or recommended reading order?

      • Books, Vertigo and Tea August 29, 2017 at 4:50 pm

        I believe published order. Not one hundred on that though. I discovered the books at the library and then was gifted a box set. Oh man, so many years ago!

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom July 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Whoa! Your favorite in the series thus far?! I knew you’d enjoy it more than book #2, but I didn’t anticipate it being your favorite! I really enjoyed book #3 as well. I LOVED reading about her years in college, juggling her academic and social lives, the addition of Phil, Patty’s Place…. and of course that ending with Gilbert 🙂 There were a few times where I wanted to shake Anne with how daft she was being in regards to Gilbert. That poor boy!

    I’ve heard a rumor that the odd numbered books are far better than the even books… which makes me a little nervous to go into book #4 lol

    • Jackie B July 31, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Yes! My favorite in the series thus far. Watching Anne grow into a young woman was fascinating. I love how realistic Montgomery makes Anne. It’s obvious to the reader where everything is going and how the characters are going to develop, but it happens to slowly that it’s addicting. I love how Anne more-or-less lies to herself and tries to hold on to her childhood dreams. She doesn’t want to grow up. And while, yes, I also wanted to shake her, I could understand her motivations. I didn’t want to let go of my dreams and ideals either!

      I just realized last night that my Anne of Green Gables Complete Collection doesn’t have #4 in it! In fact, it is missing Anne of the Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside, the ones published in the 1930s. I have to grab a copy from the library now. Oops!

  • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer July 17, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    I remember LOVING this series as a girl when i saw it on television… Your reviews tempt me to revisit them (I’m booked until October with ARCs) I feel like in series that slumps happen, generally on book 2 but it could be at any point in the series… Actually I really like when a character dies early and then way later we learn someone else may die… I feel like the threat is really there that real life will happen and do its worst… I’m glad you liked this one better and I LOVE your quotes!!

    • Jackie B July 26, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks, Dani! I haven’t seen the show yet, but it’s definitely on my list now that I’m reading the entire series! Everyone has had amazing things to say about both the 1985 Megan Follows version as well as the current Netflix show. But I’ll start with the older one for sure.

      You are booked with ARCs until OCTOBER?! Holy buckets. And I thought my reading schedule was busy! How did you manage that?

      • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer July 26, 2017 at 5:31 pm

        I like deadlines? LOL.. I’m just loving a lot of the fall books… once I realized I read about 8 books a month I started tracking my books. So then I knew how many spots I had and instead of leaving them open for books I’ve been wanting to read I filled them up. Oops!

        I didn’t know about a current Netflix show! That sounds like fun… I wish I had known you when you first started this project because I probably would have read them with you

        • Jackie B July 27, 2017 at 8:32 am

          That’s actually really cool. I’ve never really paid attention to my book reading patterns. But I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I have so many book clubs I participate in… I really need to work on my ability to make more space for other books I’m interested in.

          You are totally welcome to join us on whatever level you’d like to! No pressure, of course, but jump in where you’d like. 😉 Anne with an E is supposed to be darker but really engaging. I can’t wait to see it.

  • theorangutanlibrarian July 19, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Ahh I loved this one too!! I just loved watching Anne grow up in this one and especially how much her character grew in this one. And yes I found it really relatable too 😀

  • Krysta August 26, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Yes! I love that Montgomery presents such a diversity of female characters! They get to be so many things! And even though they are all different, they all love and support each other. It’s quite beautiful.

    • Jackie B August 27, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      She really writes quite a bit of #FriendshipGoals. Not only that, but Anne is often put into a mess where she put her foot in her mouth or something– it’s comforting to watch Anne and her girlfriends resolve these issues. It makes them human and gives me hope. That one screw-up won’t ruin me for life!

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