#AnneReadAlong2017: Thoughts on Anne of Green Gables

Note: Jane at Greenish Bookshelf and Jackie at Death By Tsundoku are co-hosting an Anne of Green Gables series readalong for the remainder of the year.  Check out their blogs for more info on how to join the fun!

IMG_1643Having somehow not read any of the Anne of Green Gables series as a child (too busy reading Sweet Valley High and Babysitter’s Club, I guess) I read the first book as an adult in 2009.  I remember being quite charmed by it, but I didn’t feel the need to continue with the series for some reason.  (I get like that – it usually takes me years to complete series – too many books calling me!)  But since I’ve been book blogging, I started feeling left out of the know when it came to L. M. Montgomery’s classics.  It seemed everyone was speaking a language that I didn’t understand as I kept seeing posts about the series.  So when the #AnneReadAlong came up, I knew I wanted to join and give myself the push I needed to complete the series.  I read my library branch’s copy, which is a donation to our collection.  It’s a Canadian edition from 1942, and it has some nice illustrations.

On a second reading of Anne of Green Gables, I immediately questioned whether or not I was a horrible person.  At first, I felt irritated by Anne’s cheerfulness, her constant chirping about “how splendid!” everything was. Had I grown that cynical and cranky in eight years? I worried, is this a taste of my future as a crotchety old woman?!?

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Gilbert teasing Anne.

And then, thankfully, I began to let Montgomery’s sweet story work its charms on me.  I started to feel envious of Anne and her friends walking to and from school and one another’s houses, enjoying the beautiful natural world of Prince Edward Island.  I spend almost no time outdoors on a regular workday, sadly, and I almost never walk anywhere – to the park and back with my son when I’m off, but that’s about it.  I do love noticing birds and flowers and trees, so I feel like I connect with Anne in that way.  But my experience of modern life is probably true for many other people who live in suburbs, commute to work in cars, and work inside air-conditioned buildings.  What it must have been like to be that connected to the natural rhythms of the seasons, to be so attuned to every flowering of buds and beautiful sunset.  Yep, I’m jealous.

I was also struck by how different children seem to be now compared to the early part of the twentieth century.  When Anne was 12, she seemed so much more innocent and naive than modern twelve year-olds.  But when she was 16 she seemed so much more independent and organized than many sixteen year-olds today.  Children became “adults” much faster than we seem to now, in that they started working and getting married so much earlier, and yet while they were children they were able to fully be children and indulge their imaginations and be silly and playful.

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Anne on the Barry roof

I fell in love with Matthew Cuthbert, of course, and his devotion to Anne.  (“Matthew would have thought that anyone who praised Anne was ‘all right.'”)  His quiet determination to let Anne have a dress like the ones the other girls wear and his being flustered in the store is just priceless. I’m so glad that Anne had Matthew’s gentle adoration to counter-balance Marilla’s undemonstrative demeanor.  And yet I found myself liking Marilla more and more as the book continued.  I especially identified with her once Anne had gone to study at Queen’s, and Marilla came home to a quiet house with a “gable room at the end of the hall (that) was untenanted by any vivid young life and unstirred by any soft breathing.”  Any parent can empathize with Marilla’s grief, whether or not their child has left the nest yet.

So many of you have read this series that I’m not going to do anything like a plot summary, but I do want to highlight some of my favorite quotations and passages.  Some are funny; some are just highly quotable words of wisdom.

Marilla to Rachel Lynde when she expresses doubts about them adopting a child:  “And as for the risk, there’s risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world.”

Anne, anticipating a picnic: “I have never tasted ice-cream.  Diana tried to explain what it was like, but I guess ice-cream is one of those things that are beyond imagination.”  SO TRUE, ANNE.

Marilla, after Anne’s adventure on the roof:  “There’s one thing plain to be seen, Anne,” said Marilla, “and that is your fall off the Barry roof hasn’t injured your tongue at all.”  Ha!

Anne, to Marilla at age thirteen: “It’s perfectly appalling to think of being twenty, Marilla.  It sounds so fearfully old and grown up.”

Anne: “Look at that sea, girls – all silver and shadow and visions of things not seen.  We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds…”  Jane: “I don’t know- exactly,” said Jane, unconvinced.  “I think diamonds would comfort a person for a good deal.”  I like how you think, Jane!

I’m so glad I have an excuse to continue with the series!  This is just the breath of fresh air I need to inject my reading life with a little sweetness and wholesomeness.  Modern fiction can be so…you know…depressing!  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like depressing as much as the next 21st century bookworm, but this is a nice change of pace.  On to Book 2 – Anne of Avonlea!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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30 thoughts on “#AnneReadAlong2017: Thoughts on Anne of Green Gables

  1. I have never read this series. Interestingly, Sweet Valley, Babysitters Club, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew is what I was reading back ten so we do have two series in common 🙂 I am glad to hear that you enjoyed this one and I hope that the rest of the series will go the same way. Happy reading 🙂

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  2. Yeah, the empty nest description. My adult children (plus a girlfriend) are at home with us for a couple of weeks. The first night they were here and no one was out in the evening, I turned off my phone and breathed what felt like the first deep breath in months.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought of you, Jeanne, while reading that and writing about that scene, since your son has just graduated college. I know you’ve experienced this before with your other child too. It’s part of the deal but I am not thinking about it yet -denial – I know it’s coming one day, though.

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  3. That is exactly one of the things I love so much about these books – reading about their way of life. It seems simpler, more innocent, and like they’re better at living in the moment and enjoying every detail. It makes me want to turn off the computer and go for a walk in the woods. Realistically, of course, I know terrible things happened back then, too. But Montgomery’s books are a nice escape from it all. Glad you liked it! (I do know what you mean about Anne’s cheerfulness – I felt that way whenever I went to see the musical in Charlottetown – I felt like Anne was too overdone.)

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  4. I love this! I re-read the entire Anne series about 10 years ago, but I think it’s time for another round! Thanks for sharing that this is happening 😀

    And now I’m going to be reading with your thoughts in mind… I can’t wait to get started!

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  5. Lovely review, Laila! We’re so glad to have you reading with us! Glad it was a good experience to reread in the end 🙂 You picked such great quotes to feature–love the ice cream one especially 🙂

    And amen to Matthew. He is such a sweet character. I’m sad he isn’t in the full series, but I guess that would be hard. Adding your post to our link-up now!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooh, you had me worried you were going to be an old curmudgeon for a moment there, but Anne saved you! I think it’s the humour and Marilla’s sharpness that stop the books becoming too sickly sweet – Marilla tends to shut Anne up just at the point when she might become annoying… 😉 Glad you enjoyed it and I hope you get tons of pleasure from the rest of the series.

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  7. I read all of the books last summer, but I’m still following along because this is one of those series that really get some varied and nuanced ideas out of readers. No one seems to say the same thing! I never thought of how Anne seemed so young and 12 and organized at 16. And as for never being outside, well…some days it hits me very hard that the only places I’ve walked in a whole day outside of my house or workplace is in and out of my car 😦

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    1. I am enjoying the different responses to the first book so far! There’s something for everyone to enjoy (or cringe at.) I know the feeling about not being outside! It’s tough – I try to make up for it on weekends but I know it’s not really enough. Maybe when I retire? (Which won’t be for a good long while!) 🙂

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      1. It’s so hard to get outside, which is so sad! Reading Anne definitely showed me that I don’t appreciate the world I live in enough. I’m trying to make an effort to at least take a walk each day. Progress is adequate. But, I’m still trying!

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  8. Yay! This post makes me so happy. Welcome to the #AnneReadAlong2017 for REAL Laila!

    I completely understand where you are coming from with being frustrated with Anne in the beginning. I found her irritating and juvenile. But, like you pointed out, kids acted differently in the early 1900’s. And as an adult in today’s world, I find that I’m not particularly patient with things which I see as “frivolous”. Yet, as I read Anne, I was conscious of my perspective changing. Anne herself was no longer annoying, but endearing. She was no longer frivolous, but mindful. I think this book touched me for so many reasons. But knowing that it helped change my perspective on the world is HUGE.

    This is an awesome review. I look forward to seeing your future posts! (And Anne is 100% correct about that ice cream quote. What an amazing world we live in!)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So glad that you found a way to enjoy her company again after all. It’s nice to know that her view of the world is there for us, between those covers, whenever we might need a lift. This time of year used to be one of my favourites for rereading my favourite volumes in the series, when school was ending and exams were beginning and I was stressed-stressed-stressed: Anne saved so many days!

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  10. Haha, I know what you mean. Anne’s cheerfulness can get the better of you at first, but then that’s the thing with Anne, she’s black and white. She can get just as pouty as she gets cheerful. Everyone’s got a dark side.
    I also loved this one (I’m also in the readalong, but posted my post only last week). Starting Anne of Avonlea now, but it’s… different. So far, and I can’t say I can get into it.
    I also thought that the children are so different now. But then again, children are also ALLOWED to be like Anne now – Anne was always reprimanded for being herself. That’s the biggest change for me, I thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true – Anne wasn’t exactly encouraged in her natural tendencies… children definitely had a stricter behavior standard back then, it seems.

      I’m a little over halfway through Avonlea myself and I’m not liking it quite as much as the first one. It is different.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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