Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Anne of Green Gables" by L. M. Montgomery

Yes, I'm reading something else along with The Lord of the Rings.  I generally have one book going upstairs and one on the main floor.  The Book Chewers are discussing Anne of Green Gables this month, and they inspired me to reread this beloved book for the first time in many years.

When I was probably seven or eight, one of my mom's friends introduced us to the Anne books.  She couldn't believe Mom had never read them, and neither can I!  I guess they had never crossed her path before then.  She began reading them, then read them aloud to me and my dad and my younger brother.  It wasn't long before we discovered the wonderful 1985 movie version.  And for the next few birthdays and Christmases, I got Anne book after Anne book as presents, until I had all eight.  I still have them, and my battered and well-loved copy is what I reread just now.  It features a picture from the 1985 movie of Anne (Megan Follows) waiting at the Bright River train station for Matthew Cuthbert to pick her up and bring her home, right at the beginning of the story.


In case you aren't familiar with this story (and if you're not, how much you miss!), allow me to elaborate a bit.  Matthew Cuthbert and his sister Marilla are both unmarried and getting older, probably in their sixties (I can't remember if it specifies).  They decide to adopt an orphan boy to help around their farm, Green Gables, near the small town of Avonlea on Canada's Prince Edward Island.  Only, thanks to a message mix-up, they get a little girl.  An eleven-year-old redhead named Anne (with an 'e') Shirley who chatters incessantly and has one of the most powerful imaginations of any child in fiction.  By the time timid, girl-shy Matthew has driven her home, he wants her to stay.  It takes quite a while before stern Marilla understands why.


If you like books with a central plot that drives relentlessly toward a goal (and I love books like that), this may not be the book for you.  It's mostly made up of escapade after escapade where Anne does something heedless, thoughtless, or overly imaginative and learns a lesson.  She grows from eleven to sixteen over the course of the book, making many friends and a couple enemies along the way.  It's the epitome of slice-of-life style.  And I love it dearly, having been fast friends with the characters for twenty-five years now.


First Sentence:


Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof (p. 1).


Particularly Good Bits:


Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, when she sat at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat now, knitting, and the table behind her was laid for supper (p. 4).


Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt.  She thought in exclamation points (p. 5).


Here and there a wild plum leaned out from the bank like a white-clad girl tiptoeing to her own reflection (p. 19).


"Don't you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back?" (p. 41)


Mrs. Rachel was one of those delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their mind without fear or favor (p. 64).


If this was a movie, I would rate it:  G for glorious.  Perfectly fine for all ages.

20 comments:

  1. What a beautiful book! I love it; the first three in the series and Rilla of Ingleside are my favorites!

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    1. My favorites are this first one and Anne of Windy Poplars. I think once I finish reading the Sherlock Holmes canon, I'm going to reread the rest of these.

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  2. First, I have to say, your mom is a woman after my own heart!! I observed a family read aloud time for YEARS---until my kids were well into their teens.

    I love Anne of Green Gables. I haven't read all of the books, just Green Gables. I'm pretty sure my daughter has the whole series, so I may just find myself revisiting Anne as well.

    My daughter and I also love the movies (except for #3).

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    1. She read to us for about an hour every night before bed, up until we went to college. I loved that, and am trying to figure out a way to work a set mom-reads-aloud time into our schedules. Right now my kids know that I will drop nearly everything if they come to me with a book -- even my 22-month-old can say, "Read it to me! Read it to me!" But our nightly routine doesn't have room for reading aloud, so I'm just going to have to come up with something else.

      I have not seen the third movie and steadfastly refuse to because I've read enough about it to know it veers far from the books, and I just don't want that.

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  3. *whispers* I'm 25 years old and I haven't read the Anne of Green Gables books. I haven't even seen any of the adaptations. I think I know what my New Years' Resolution needs to be...

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    1. You might love them! You might hate them. I have a dear friend who can't stand this kind of book because she says, "nothing happens." On the other hand, I love learning about people's lives, so this sort of day-to-day thing delights me. So all I can say is, give them a try!

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  4. I love everything about the series and the movies. My family even took a vacation to Prince Edward Island just to have an Anne adventure :)

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    1. How I envy you! PEI is on my list of places to visit, but I haven't made it there yet. I hope your adventure was lovely!

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  5. What a great review of Anne! It's nice to know that you so enjoyed being read aloud to all those years ago, and that it made such an impression on you. And when you go to PEI, I'd sure love to go with you :-) Let's make it a family trip!!

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    1. Aww, thanks! And yes, I did love that. I'm thinking we should hold off on PEI until my kids are old enough to know the stories too :-)

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  6. This is my favorite book of all time. My dream is to go to PEI someday in the future.

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    1. The series as a whole is probably in my top five of favorite series. And that's one of my dreams too!

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  7. my most favourite book (and film) or all time!!
    My most favourite book cover version has the same image as you but different background. I actually collect copies of this book as their are so many copies available. I have even had friends and family return form overseas visits with copies for me. (Rilla of ingleside and Rainbow valley are very hard to find in the UK so very grateful they did :)

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    1. I Googled "Anne of Green Gables book cover" and was flabbergasted by how many different ones there are! I suppose that's what happens when a book is extremely popular and in the public domain. That must be a fascinating collection! I kind of collect copies of "Hamlet," though more for the various scholarly discussions within than for the covers. But I could see myself collecting a beloved book for the different covers. How many do you have?

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  8. OH MY GOODNESS. CAPS LOCK IS ON.... I LOVE THESE BOOKS! THEY ARE WHAT STARTED ME ON OLD FASHIONED EVERYTHING.
    Okay I think I'm okay now. None of my friends seem to like it though, but it's not a "popular" book for teens nowadays, sadly. I'm so glad you love it too, :)

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    1. I think these books will always be popular with people who enjoy learning about the way people lived in the past. And people who don't care about that probably won't care about them, but that's their loss ;-)

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  9. Love the Anne of Green Gables series soooo much!! Some of my most favorite books :)

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    1. Elaina, they're such a delight, aren't they? I really enjoyed rereading them this year.

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    2. Yes, they are :) I am still reading Anne of Avonlea and I wish I had more time to read it, but I am pretty busy with school at the moment :(

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    3. Sounds good! Reading Anne, I mean, not school busyness. I know how that goes, though. Do you get a break soon? Nothing better than curling up with a book during school vacation!

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