Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
From Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery:
Open quote 

Matthew Cuthbert's father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in such a place LIVING at all. 'It's just STAYING, that's what,' she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. 'It's no wonder Matthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren't much company, though dear knows if they were there’d be enough of them. I'd ruther look at people. To be sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they're used to it. A body can get used to anything, even to being hanged, as the Irishman said.'"

Did anyone raise his eyebrows when he saw my latest reading selection? Was it unexpected? There's a reason I chose "Anne of Green Gables." Actually, two reasons. And I'm glad I did.

After the jump, my review.

Grade: A-

I picked "Anne of Green Gables" for two reasons. The simplest one is that I had recently visited Prince Edward Island, the setting for the novel, and the house that inspired it. Never having read this classic as a youth (probably because it's a girl's book, but I honestly don't remember ever making the decision not to read it), I thought it was high time to correct that sexist oversight (if, indeed, that's what it was all those years ago).

The second reason was that I needed my palate cleansed after finishing "A Brief History of Seven Killings," which I considered to be exhausting, long, violent, and vulgar, even if well-written. What better novel to use as a sorbet than this 1908 story of an orphan girl who charms and delights all she meets in the idyllic setting of Prince Edward Island, Canada?

Having just visited, I can confirm that Prince Edward Island is idyllic. Green Gables makes for a nice tourist stop whether or not you've ever heard of Anne. The house, the barn, the wood and pond and meadow are all preserved bits of history and nature that stand on their own. Now, having read the novel and being able to picture the fictional Anne and Marilla and Matthew and Diana and Gilbert in the very real idyllic places described in the novel, it's all that more enchanting.

But enough about the island, the farm, and Green Gables the house. What about the novel itself? You probably already know the story, even though it was new to me. It's all about Anne, an orphan adopted kind of by accident at the age of eleven. She is imaginative, adventurous, talkative, and friendly. It's understandable why she has been a heroine for generations of girls. She deserves to be a heroine for boys and adults, too. She's ahead of her time, not just 1908, but 1958 too, and maybe even 2008 in some ways. Of course this means that her creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery, was ahead of her time as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Anne's antics, her ups and downs, her dreams and ambitions. It's a young teen's book that I found to be a delight even a century after its publication.

There. Palate cleansed.

"Anne of Green Gables" is available in Kindle format from the Richardson Public Library. :-)

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