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!
“I suppose you’ve gone and refused Gilbert Blythe. You are an idiot, Anne Shirley!” –Philippa (Phil) Gordon
Well, I’m squeaking in at the last minute with the review of this! I absolutely loved Anne of the Island. Hands down it’s my favorite of the series so far. I could see myself reading this one again in years to come even if I don’t read any of the others. There is something beguiling about Anne’s experience of college. Maybe it reminds me of my own wonderful college years – the fun and friendship, the first taste of freedom, the sense that anything could happen on any given day.
The focus of the book returns to Anne herself, rather than Davy and Dora or her neighbors, as was the case in the last book. We see Anne cementing friendships, fending off marriage proposals right and left, and studying hard. We see her watch her friends, particularly the ones back home, pair off and begin to get married. Anne is content to be by herself, and even Gilbert Blythe’s gentle but steady attention is too much for her. She is afraid to lose the friendship that they have and she’s attached to her romantic ideal, which she thinks Gilbert doesn’t meet. It’s frustrating watching Anne crush his heart and push him away. I was so pleased when good old Phil called her an idiot! I practically pumped my fist in the air in solidarity! I do understand that she just wasn’t ready to make the commitment to Gilbert, and to the seriousness of those adult emotions. Still, it was rather maddening when everyone around her could see how perfect they were for one another and she couldn’t.
Speaking of Phil, she’s a great addition to these books, isn’t she? I do hope she turns up in future installments. Besides calling Anne an idiot, I loved it when she said, early on, “I’ve been feeling a little blue – just a pale, elusive azure. It isn’t serious enough for anything darker.” Her own love story arc is sweet as well.
There was that whole unpleasant episode with the cat who wouldn’t die, and the mention of Mr. Harrison’s dog who was hung twice, but I guess times were different when it came to animals, weren’t they? They didn’t exactly have mobile spay and neuter trucks coming to the local park, or a vet to come to the house with an injection. Still, that sort of jarred me a bit.
The pace of this book just zipped right along, especially in contrast to the previous book in the series, Anne of Avonlea. Alternating between visits home and time at Redmond meant that we don’t get bogged down in one place for too long. There was just enough Marilla, Mrs. Rachel, and Davy and Dora to ground Anne’s story, but not enough to become annoyed with. I rather enjoyed meeting crotchety old Aunt Atossa! She was a hoot! Diana and Anne handled her rudeness perfectly, with a measure of amusement. It was a most entertaining section, though.
I feel like my “review” of Anne of the Island is rather light, but I don’t have a lot to pick apart about this book! It was a fast read; I thoroughly enjoyed it and eagerly returned to its pages when I had to put it down. It made for perfect comfort reading. I’ve heard from Melanie at Grab the Lapels that the odd numbered books are better than the even ones. So far she’s right! Despite that, I am excited to read next month’s book, Anne of Windy Poplars. Reminder: anyone can join in on this readalong! It’s going on for the remainder of the year, one book per month.
So, reader, have you read this series more than once? Which is your favorite book? Do you have any more suggestions for “comfort reading?” I’m always looking to add to my list.