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Book Review: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables (5 star review)

Anne of Green Gables

written by L.M. Montgomery

309 pages // published in 1909 // YA historical fiction


When Marilla Cuthbert's brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, "But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl." It's not long, though, before the Cuthberts can't imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables--but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan. Somewhere between the time Anne "confesses" to losing Marilla's amethyst pin (which she never took) in hopes of being allowed to go to a picnic, and when Anne accidentally dyes her hated carrot-red hair green, Marilla says to Matthew, "One thing's for certain, no house that Anne's in will ever be dull." And no book that she's in will be, either.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Well, I finally came around to reading “Anne” again. I was 13 when I found my first kindred spirit (in Anne Shirley, that is). Of course, before that, I didn't even know what a kindred spirit even was. Honestly, my young self had no clue what I was getting myself into, all those years ago. But I did understand the fact that I had found something charming and unique to read. To be honest, I had never read anything like it before – with that beautiful descriptive writing, and a heroine who I found so interesting, like no one I'd ever heard of before...

Well, a “lifetime” later, I've read it again. I found out that I had remembered some of the main plot developments in the novel, but there was a lot more that I had “lost” in my memories of how things really happened. So it was wonderful to meet up with one of my favorite female literary characters again – and to measure up how I see her now, reading it as an adulthood, and in effect, to see how I've changed since my first time.

The re-reading experience was totally different. This time around, I saw the story as an adult. I connected with the grown-ups in the story much more – for example, when I was 13, Marilla and Matthew were background characters to Anne and Diana. But now? The story seems to be more about Anne and Marilla's relationship than what I ever realized before.

[Matthew:] “I suppose—we could hardly be expected to keep her.”
[Marilla:] “I should say not. What good would she be to us?”
“We might be some good to her,” said Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.

Marilla. She needed Anne to show up in her life, and even though she wants to give back this orphan girl for the boy she expected, well – Marilla gets much more than what she could have anticipated. In a way, Marilla finds herself again – or in some ways, for the first time. For example: “...some of the things Anne had said... were what she herself had really thought deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity.” Over time, Marilla comes to love Anne, even though she didn't mean to at first, and still she certainly doesn't say it much, as emotions come hard for this aging woman, but she loves Anne all the same.

“I’ve been here for a year and I’ve been so happy. Of course, I’ve had my troubles, but one can live down troubles. Are you sorry you kept me, Marilla?”
“No, I can’t say I’m sorry,” said Marilla, who sometimes wondered how she could have lived before Anne came to Green Gables, “no, not exactly sorry.”

Matthew. If it's emotions for his sister, it's words that come hard for this soft-hearted man. “Still Matthew said nothing and Marilla had a sense of having wasted words and breath. There is nothing more aggravating than a man who won’t talk back—unless it is a woman who won’t.” He is a humble farmer, notably comical in his escapades of silence. I couldn't get over him. To me, he's a charmer, because though little words he may speak, he listens – and listens well...

[Mrs. Lynde:] “But to think of Matthew taking notice of it! That man is waking up after being asleep for over sixty years.”

Diana. To a girl who's never had a friend, someone she can trust with her innermost secrets, Diana is exactly who Anne needed to find in this great big world. And they just happen to be neighbors, after Anne is taken in at Green Gables. As Anne dramatically proclaims to Marilla: “I cannot ever live without her. But I know very well when we grow up that Diana will get married and go away and leave me. And oh, what shall I do? I hate her husband—I just hate him furiously.”

Gilbert. I couldn't help but smile every time his name came up in the story. Anne passionately hates him, and the scrapes she gets it to avoid him are hilarious. She says she'll never forgive him for the “carrots” episode, but... when one is as emotional as Anne, you never know when your feelings will do a flip-flop.

“The rivalry between them was soon apparent; it was entirely good natured on Gilbert’s side; but it is much to be feared that the same thing cannot be said of Anne, who had certainly an unpraiseworthy tenacity for holding grudges. She was as intense in her hatreds as in her loves. She would not stoop to admit that she meant to rival Gilbert in schoolwork, because that would have been to acknowledge his existence which Anne persistently ignored...”

Anne. There are enough words to sum up this particular girl. She's an odd bird, to be sure. She also tries her best to please the Cuthberts who have fulfilled this orphan's dreams of a happy home. In her own words, “Miss Marilla Cuthbert is a very kind lady who has taken me to bring up properly. She is doing her best, but it is very discouraging work.” In her all little mistakes (no matter how many she makes), we find each relatable to our own life. In her “scope for imagination” we find the ideas and creativity that childhood freely gives, and most people never use properly.

“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.”

Until we meet again, dear friend.

- - - - - - - - - -

Other quotes I found ever so delightful...

“Who’s bringing this child up, Matthew, you or me?”
“Well now, you,” admitted Matthew.
“Don’t interfere then.”

“I love Miss Stacy with my whole heart, Marilla. She is so ladylike and she has such a sweet voice. When she pronounces my name I feel instinctively that she’s spelling it with an E.”

“It must be a great deal better to be sensible; but still, I don’t believe I’d really want to be a sensible person, because they are so unromantic. Mrs. Lynde says there is no danger of my ever being one, but you can never tell. I feel just now that I may grow up to be sensible yet.”

“I don’t know—I don’t want to talk as much,” she said, denting her chin thoughtfully with her forefinger. “It’s nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one’s heart, like treasures. I don’t like to have them laughed at or wondered over. And somehow I don’t want to use big words any more. It’s almost a pity, isn’t it, now that I’m really growing big enough to say them if I did want to.”

Matthew, with a suspicious moisture in his eyes, got up and went out-of-doors. Under the stars of the blue summer night he walked agitatedly across the yard to the gate under the poplars.
“Well now, I guess she ain’t been much spoiled,” he muttered, proudly. “I guess my putting in my oar occasional never did much harm after all. She’s smart and pretty, and loving, too, which is better than all the rest. She’s been a blessing to us, and there never was a luckier mistake than what Mrs. Spencer made—if it was luck. I don’t believe it was any such thing. It was Providence, because the Almighty saw we needed her, I reckon.”

Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio format.

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This is book #2 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Re-Read a Favorite Classic]

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  1. I didn't read this until I was an adult but I loved it too.

    1. bermudaonion,
      Even though "Anne" was written over a hundred years ago, it's so easy to fall in love with this unique orphan girl. It's a timeless classic. :)

  2. I love this book because I can't help but love every single character and setting. Such a magical read!

    1. Michelle,
      Yes! It certainly is a magical read! One of my top favorite books EVER.

  3. I read this book only a few years ago, as an adult and I enjoyed it only to regret I hadn't read it as a kid.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

    1. Yeah, it's a good, quality book that I now feel like everyone should read both as a child and as an adult. I saw so many differences in how I perceived the story when I re-read it.

  4. Anne of Green Gables is an excellent book! The characters all feel so real. And I love the quotes you highlighted.

    1. NovElla, 'Anne' certainly is a wonderful book. And so are all the sequels! :) Thanks.

  5. haven't read it, but sounds interesting