by L.M. Montgomery
started: February 26, 2018 | finished: March 7, 2018
Let me start off by saying that I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. When it was chosen as the February read for the Read Women group, I was admittedly disappointed to be reading a kid’s book and saved it for the last minute to read. My god, was I wrong.
For those few who, like myself, passed over this book as a kid—Anne of Green Gables is about a middle-aged brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who decide to adopt a boy to help them with work around their property. By mistake, they receive a girl instead: Anne “with an e” Shirley whose wild imagination, curiosity, and tenacity often get her into trouble. Though the book is mostly focused on Anne’s coming of age in Avonlea, there’s also a lot of focus on Marilla and Matthew as the experiences of parenthood change them for the better.
I was entirely entertained by this book, which was a complete shock to me. Between the characters and the events, there was never really a point where I was bored and the pages went by more quickly than I wanted them to at times. Though it isn’t exactly an action packed story, the events and development of the characters keep you wanting to move forward.
On the surface, there isn’t much of an overarching story to Anne of Green Gables, it’ more of a slice of life story made up of a series of vignettes showing Anne grow up, but, in truth, this is the overarching story. The reader watches as Anne shifts from an untamed orphan girl to an educated teen that everyone in the community respects. Though she does become more subdued in the later chapters of the book, we can see that she is still the same Anne, it’s just that now she has carved herself a place in the world around her.
The primary thing that I love about the story is the fact that there are lessons to be learned through out it, but the reader is never beaten over the head with them nor are they ever preached at. The reader learns the lesson through Anne and by watching her work through the lesson herself and grow from it. It helps, as well, that Anne never deals with anything lightly and every lesson is just as entertaining for the reader as it is helpful for Anne’s development.
The thing I loved most about this book was the treatment of the characters. Every character is flawed in some way and yet they each have their own arcs and developments. I enjoyed Anne as a character thoroughly and, much like Matthew, fell for her from the moment the ride back to Green Gables began. Her imagination and persistence to get through whatever life threw at her won me over entirely. At the same time, I loved Marilla, even if she is a bit too hard on Anne in the beginning, then again, it was exactly what Anne needed as she grew older. Matthew was just wonderfully endearing and I loved the dynamic between him, Marilla, and Anne. Even Anne’s classmates, who don’t have arcs that are nearly as pronounced as Anne, are still three dimensional characters with wants and goals of their own.
Though Montgomery’s writing style isn’t as poetic as I usually like, the words take a back seat to the characters and allow them to breath life into the narrative. Had Anne not been as tenacious, had Marilla not had the same grit, had Matthew not had the same heart, had Anne not had such reverence for the world around her, the book wouldn’t have been half as good as it was. At the same time, the writing was never dry or without wit, but it is the characters that give this book life (as it should be).
If Montgomery’s characters grabbed my attention, her descriptions held it firmly in place. Despite Montgomery never describing anything with poetics, Anne’s ability to view everything around her with such passion amplified the settings and descriptions in a way that poetics weren’t needed.
Overall, the best thing about this book is the fact that it’s well written despite being “for kid’s.” Something that bothers me is the dismal of poorly made entertainment with the excuse of “it’s for kids.” That just shouldn’t be an excuse. Just because something is made for kids shouldn’t be a free to not but the same thought and care into it that you would if it was for adults. Anne of Green Gables never falls into this trap. The book was clearly written with care and intention without being bogged down with being didactic or talking down to the reader. I’m a bit sorry that I never read Anne as a child, I don’t doubt I would have been the better for it, but what am I to do about it.