"Anne Of Green Gables"

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery

How could anyone not love this book? The characters are all wonderfully flawed and loveable, the setting idyllic and the story sweet, funny and satisfying. I'm quite willing to admit I'm biased, living in the Canadian maritime provinces, but I am fully convinced that I'd love the book as well no matter what the setting. Well almost convinced. Somewhat.

The story follows the life of Anne Shirley, an orphan adopted by aging sister and brother, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert who live on Green Gables farm in Prince Edward Island, Canada. They meant to adopt a boy who would be a help on the farm but wires got crossed and when they arrived at the orphanage to pick up their boy, Anne was waiting for them. Eleven years old, red headed and the possessor of a wildly overdeveloped imagination that gets her into trouble repeatedly, Anne's open heart and genuine goodness win everyone over eventually.

The writing is a delight to read. Anne can talk what my mother used to call "a blue streak" barely taking a breath between sentences, but her prattling includes such gems as "It's always wrong to do anything you can't tell the minister's wife. It's as good as an extra conscience to have a minister's wife for your friend."  The language the author uses is lovely, an almost poetic pleasure. The book is full of beautiful phrasing like "The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have delighted Anne's heart at any time less fraught with destiny." I want to have written that phrase "any time less fraught with destiny".

At the end of this book Anne is I think, 17. There are several more books in the series that follow her into adulthood, marriage and having children of her own. They are all very good and I heartily recommend the whole series for young and old, but for me none of them quite measure up to this first one. Anne is such a wonderful, precocious, joy-filled child, it's a shame she can't stay a child forever. If that can't happen, and it can't, the next best thing is to read about her growing up.

I didn't discover the Anne books till I was an adult. I read continually as a child so I have no idea how that happened. I certainly had no problem finding my way to books that I should not have been reading. I don't know how I could have missed these books that were aimed specifically at girls my age, but I am grateful I found them when I did. Reading "Anne" this time was even lovelier because I was reading a hardcover copy I found in my grandmother's house just before it was sold and torn down. It was printed in 1945 by Ryerson Press and the pages are yellowed and in places stained by generations who read it before me. The book smells like the house smelled, aged and earthy and comfortable. I miss that house and that smell more than words can say.

If you haven't read Anne of Green Gables yet, you're missing out. Don't deny yourself this pleasure any longer. Book Depository has copies for under $5.00, so do yourself a favor and order one. I promise you you'll be glad you did.


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