If you won’t read the review, do skip down to the quotations at the end. This book made me laugh so much!
Title: Anne of Green Gables | Author: L.M. Montgomery
Publisher: HarperCollins | ISBN: 0694012513
If you want a beautifully written novel with the most endearing protagonist and a rather unique amount of supportive and well developed woman-to-woman relationships, please look no further.
My mom gave me my first copy of Anne of Green Gables when I was a child, as most mothers apparently tend to do. I never got past the first few pages as a child, but I recently gave it a chance and it has become an instant favorite.
Anne Shirley is an orphan who is accidentally sent to live with siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. They are, much to Anne’s dismay, looking for a boy in order to help on their farm, but somehow there is a mix up and Anne is sent over instead. Matthew instantly falls for the talkative, high-spirited girl, but Marilla is reluctant to keep her. After some debate and hesitation on Marilla’s part, they decide to keep Anne with them at Green Gables and their lives are forever changed.
This coming of age novel is bright and cheerful thanks to the Montgomery’s thorough and dedicated characterization of Anne, as well as her gorgeous descriptions of the lush, dynamic and magical surroundings of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. I looked up flights to P.E.I. Immediately after finishing this book.
There are so many well-rounded female characters and relationships. I fell in love with both Anne and Marilla. What really strikes me about the novel are Anne’s positive, healthy relationships with various women whom she can confide in and look up to.
Where does one begin with Anne? Anne is consistenly a positive force in the novel. Yes, she is chatty and perhaps a little weird, but she proves to be a source of light and positivity for everyone around her through the novel. She delights in the average, everyday things around her, and feels everything to a great degree.
“Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one.” (133)
Such an endearing, unique, brilliant female character needs more appreciation and recognition.
She’s adorably funny in her moments of cluelessness and silliness. She is also extremely bright and creative thanks to her overactive imagination and this gets her into trouble so many times that Marilla mentally adds it to her schedule to be prepared. Anne is a smart, kind girl whose mind is filled with too many romantic ideas, but as Matthew tells her, her romanticism is a valuable and unique trait.
As for her less endearing traits, Anne can be rigid and initially prone to outbursts. She is stubborn and can hold a grudge, much like Marilla herself. It’s interesting to see how Marilla finds pieces of herself within Anne. This novel is very much about Marilla’s growth, too. As a young child, Anne tends to let it all out without thinking when she is wronged. You can’t help but sympathize with her in these cases, even cheer her on. She’s brutally honest, even to her elders.
Of course, Anne loves to talk. The hilarious dialogue is what makes this novel what it is. Anne’s conversations practically turn into speeches as she explains every detail that runs through her head. Montgomery writes Anne’s lengthy dialogue very well so although it can go on for a page or two, its hilarity makes it a breeze to read.
I want to make it clear that Anne is not a Mary-Sue and I am not here for any invalidations of her character. Any time you praise a female character for too long, you will get the irritating, misogynistic chorus of “well then, she’s not very realistic is she!?” which equates to “she’s a Mary-Sue!”. I hate Mary-Sues myself and like to think I can identify them pretty easily. They are the result of a lack of character exploration and simply bad writing. Montgomery, however, is an excellent writer, and Anne is a brilliant, believable character. Yes, she is endearing, sweet, funny, kind, weird, smart, and a little too honest (the mega perfect pack), but these are shown to us in such a subtle, detailed manner throughout the course of the whole novel that it works perfectly. Also, Anne is not any of these things forever; she changes as she grows up, which is something poorly written characters (i.e. Mary-Sues) lack.
Anne is entirely unique and dynamic. Montgomery shows us this by beautifully emulating the subtleties of growing up that you feel like a punch in the face only when looking back in retrospect. Anne is not the same at 15 as she is at 11 or 13. She is a child, then a teenager. I can describe Anne using various adjectives, but they will not make it clear how original and real she is unless you read the novel.
“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” (206 — 207)
In the typical fashion of the coming of age novel for a girl, we do get the praises of her appearance as she gets older, becoming the most beautiful girl among her group of aquaintances even though she is initially the most awkward looking and everyone makes fun of her red hair. This might add to the Mary-Sue thing, but this is not really superficial of Montgomery considering the openly negative views on Irish traits at the time.
I consider this book a favorite, and Anne one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. The many well-rounded characters and the positive woman-to-woman relationships, each unique in their own way, make Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables stand out to me. It’s a positive, heartwarming and hilarious read.
I sincerely struggled not to include abut 70% of the novel.
- “[T]hat is the truth, if I was to be led to the block for it — although I’m not very certain what a block is.” (122)
- “All great things are wound up with all things little.” (176)
- “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” (204)
- “No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious.” (237)
- “It’s always wrong to do anything you can’t tell the minister’s wife.” (299)
- “I’m just as ambitious as ever. Only, I’ve changed the object of my ambitions.” (388)
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