Here is a little about me. If you just want to know about the book, scroll down to the review. I won’t be offended.
I watched Anne of Green Gables only about a thousand times as a kid. Gilbert Blythe was my first crush, my first Mr. Darcy. So how I got to 31 years old without having read the book I don’t know. You would think that I would have devoured it immediately after my sister-in-law gave me a copy, but I didn’t. To be fair we were getting ready to move (again) at the time so it went into a box pretty much right away. I may also have been hesitant because I thought it would be one of those old time classics that take a lot of focus to really get into. And let’s be honest – ever since child #3 was born the times in my life when I have enough time and quiet to focus like that is limited. It has been many years since I attempted even a Jane Austen for that reason.
I didn’t get around to unpacking some of the boxes of books until after we moved again about a year later. I now had newborn baby #4 and I did lots of sitting and feeding during my day. It was a perfect, green, summer day and children #1-3 were outside so it was quiet. I suddenly wanted to read, but not just anything. I wanted a book as beautiful as the mountain view out my front window, and as fulfilling and precious as my newborn. I went to the bookshelf and Anne of Green Gables was there. I picked it up and started reading. It was love at first sight..or page. The timing was perfect; the summer sun and my beautiful views meshed perfectly with the flowers and trees of Green Gables. It was exactly the style of book I was in the mood for at that time and it was beautiful. There was no complex language, requiring lots of focus. Instead it was a refreshing walk in park, or more appropriately a walk down “The White Way of Delight” (chapter 2). I felt like I was changed/improved as my perspective on home and family, and education and self-confidence was widened and deepened by Anne Shirley.
So that’s my story which I share because what we bring of ourselves to an interaction with a book will color what we take away from it as well. Now on to the book’s story. My Goodreads review is below. If you like it be sure to check out my other reviews.
My favorite quotes, and book club questions still to come. Any topics or aspects from the book you want to discuss? Let’s do it in the comments. Leave suggestions and book recommendations for me there as well.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How do I find words to do justice to the beauty, wit, and heart that is this book? This story came to life for me. I was magically transported to Prince Edward Island. L.M. Montgomery helped me see it, smell it, and love it. I found home in Green Gables right along with Anne. There was such a positive force in reading the book that when I came back to reality I was more happy with my life and surroundings, rather than disappointed to have to leave such beauty in the pages. The light and warmth I felt from my time in Avonlea spilled out of the book and into all aspects of my life. I can think of no better effect for a work of art to have.
But I didn’t just fall in love with a place; the people felt real too. I remember discussing in high school English what a pro Jane Austen was at characterization, but in the first few pages of Anne of Green Gables I met Rachel Lynde and she could not have been more expertly introduced. And It’s not just what the author writes about the characters that tells you about them, but also how she writes. Rachel Lynde knows everything about everyone; nothing gets past her, so we meet her right up front, first thing. Then there’s Marilla who we get to see and understand just a little at a time. She is not easy to read, doesn’t warm up to people quickly, and so we are let into her thoughts and motivations gradually. Anne is a stream of personality and so we see her in bursts with lots of emotion. While Matthew is simple, quiet, but thoughtful and steady so getting to know him doesn’t take long and it’s not flashy, but you can’t help but feel attached right away.
It’s an engaging and uplifting story, written with true skill and art. Rightfully a classic. It surpasses for me many of the other celebrated literary greats; maybe because it is so relatable. I see aspects of myself in the characters, and the decisions and events they experience are the same I see in my life, with maybe some slight variation due to a different time and place. And the best part is how it prompts greater gratitude for the simple but real things in life. It gives me Joy.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I LOVE this book.
Reader Age recommendation: 10 and older, likely most enjoyed by girls. Despite the age of the book the writing style is easy to read. I have friends who say they have read this book to their kids as young as 7 and 8.
Appropriateness: I found nothing offensive in the book. Totally appropriate for all ages and settings. Would be perfect for book club, English class, or family read aloud. Lots to discuss about choices and consequences, forgiveness, gratitude, and learning from mistakes.
Book Recommendation: If you liked this one as much as I did I recommend you try “Everything on a Waffle” by Polly Horvath, “The Little Princess” and “The Secret Garden” both by Frances Hodgson Burnett, “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine, and “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt.
And if you want more food for thought, I really liked Shannon’s Review on Goodreads.