When I was a teen, this was my favorite Anne book. I think Anne of Green Gables may have edged it out for me now, but it's almost too close to call. I do know this book is the main reason why I have such a fondness for epistolary novels. However, I was surprised to discover that it's not entirely written in long, chatty letters from Anne to Gilbert -- there are several chapters sprinkled throughout that are entirely written in the third person by a narrator like the first three books in the series.
In this one, Anne and Gilbert are engaged to be married, but Gilbert needs to finish medical school before they can be married, so Anne takes a job being the principal at a high school in a town called Summerside that is ruled by a clannish family by the name of Pringle. At first, the Pringles resent her, but eventually, she wins them over, along with every other crank, coot, and misanthrope in the town.
I think what I like best about this book is how kindness and compassion play such a big role. Really, the tagline for it could be "Have courage, and be kind." Does Anne surmount basically every obstacle anyone can throw in her way? Yes, she does. How? By being kind and compassionate toward everyone, whether they are nice to her or not. Over and over, she makes a kind gesture, or shows some extra patience, or tries to befriend someone friendless, and the end result is that an antagonist thaws out, unbends, or turns out not to be as curmudgeonly as previously rumors had painted them. How can I help but be charmed by such stories?
As a teen, I know I appreciated how Montgomery "edited" Anne's letters to leave out the mushy, romantical parts. This amuses be greatly still.
Particularly Good Bits:
In passing, isn't 'dusk' a lovely word? I like it better than twilight. It sounds so velvety and shadowy and... and... dusky (p. 3).
"Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old" (p. 89).
"A cold in the head in June is an immoral thing" (p. 184).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G. Sweet and clean and gentle.
This is my 38th book read and reviewed for the Classics Club, and my 7th for the Women's Classic Literature Event.
Elyssa hasn't posted any discussion questions at Purple Ink Studios for this book yet, so at such time as she does, I'll probably do a separate post about them.