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!
“Having adventures comes natural to some people,” said Anne serenely. “You just have a gift for them or you haven’t.”
My reading of the second book in L.M. Montgomery’s classic series was a bit more of a chore than my experience of the first one, I have to admit. I did enjoy it, but I found it all too easy to set the book aside when I’d finished a chapter. It consisted of vignettes about people in Anne’s life and Anne herself, just like the first. But I felt that there was less forward momentum in the narrative, almost as if each chapter was a short story rather than part of a novel.
Anne is 16 now and a teacher of some of the very children who were recently her schoolmates. She still lives with Marilla, who is still experiencing poor eyesight and can’t do any close up sewing or crafting or reading. However, they are soon joined by twins Davy and Dora, six years old, distant relations who are orphaned and need a temporary place to stay. Davy is a deliberately mischievous “handful” and Dora is… well… boring. Dora might as well not exist, in my opinion. She’s only referenced in contrast to Davy’s behavior, and Anne and Marilla both admit to liking Davy more. Poor Dora! I wondered why Montgomery even introduced her in the first place. Why not just have little Davy come to stay at Green Gables? But I’ve not read the rest of the series – perhaps Dora has a meatier role to play in the future?
In any case, Anne is busy with teaching and with the newly formed Avonlea Village Improvement Society, in addition to her adventures with the twins and assorted neighbors and friends. My favorite part of the book came towards the end, when we meet the “old maid” (“forty-five and quite gray”) Miss Lavendar Lewis. Miss Lavendar is as romantic and imaginative as Anne is, and they become fast friends.
“But what is the use of being an independent old maid if you can’t be silly when you want to, and when it doesn’t hurt anybody?”
I very much enjoyed the whimsical Miss Lavendar, and was quite moved by her affection for Anne’s favorite pupil, sweet, sensitive Paul Irving. The plotline involving Lavendar and Paul’s father, Stephen, felt romantic and satisfying. Anne herself has just a taste of romance, her first conscious thought of what may lie ahead with Gilbert, in the book’s last pages.
Favorite line: “… Mrs. Lynde says that when a man has to eat sour bread two weeks out of three his theology is bound to get a kink in it somewhere.”
Rating: Three stars. We got to meet some fun characters, but overall it felt lacking compared to the richness of the first. Davy was a big drag for me, quite frankly. However, the book had a sweet spirit and Anne still exhibited her trademark appreciation for nature and creative daydreaming, which I enjoyed. I do look forward to reading more about Anne’s adventures as she heads to Redmond College. I’m hoping the change of scenery will add more momentum to the story!
(This was book 3 of my #20BooksofSummer list. Combining reading challenges! Yes!)