Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery
|Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Charming, beautifully descriptive and it dances from laugh-out-loud funny to grab-a-tissue sad with ease, this is one of my most favourite books!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: OUP Oxford|
Everyone has a favourite book, I think. A defining book that sometimes they read as a child, or sometimes as an adult, but it moved them, or spoke to them in a particular way and perhaps it changed their lives forever. For me, that book is Anne of Green Gables. It has shaped so much of my life that I can't imagine ever not having read it. Indeed, I have read it so many times that I lost count just how many years ago. Anne became a true heroine for me as a young girl, and she remains one still now that I have a little girl of my own.
The story seems quite simple on the face of it - Anne is an orphan, and one day she is chosen to go and live with the Cuthberts, a brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. The problem is, the Cuthberts were expecting a boy, to help them on the farm, and not a girl. Will they allow Anne to stay? In the same way that Anne charms her way into Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert's lives, she sneaks into your own as you read. She is so starved of love, so desperate to be liked, and so naive and innocent in her yearnings that you can't help but love her. She is also, unfortunately, prone to fits of temper (especially if anyone mentions the bain of her life, her red hair!) and she seems to find herself in tricky situations at any given moment. I always loved that about Anne, that she tries to be good and sweet and kind, and she really is, but still she has that flaring temper that gets her into trouble!
As a child the story was, for me, simply about Anne. It was funny to read about her trials and tribulations as she tries to fit into her new family and her new life, about her struggles in school and her triumphs too. Anne talks. A lot. And I found that hilarious to read because she's so earnest, and not showing off, but she is unintentionally funny with her grand speeches and her wild imaginings. Now when I reread the story I see more depth and beauty. Marilla's character, for instance, is so wonderfully written. She's rather frightening to begin with, so strict and austere, but you begin to see her love for Anne grow, and her own sense of humour reawaken with the arrival of this precious girl into her quiet, barren life. The description throughout the book is beautiful too. I went to Prince Edward Island, in Canada, when I was twenty five years old and as I walked through the villages, and along the shore, it all felt unbelievably familiar thanks to the pictures I had imagined whilst reading Montgomery's books.
In this particular edition there's an additional segment at the end of the book with some interesting facts about Montgomery's life, a review and a glossary of some of the more unusual words in the story. There are some other reading recommendations and some top tips from the cover artist. The cover is the only thing I'd take issue with in this edition. I have quite a collection now of different editions of Anne of Green Gables (including one in Japanese!) but this one, although bright and cheerful, strikes me as a little bland. The glimpse of Green Gables in the corner of the picture is all wrong...it isn't a bungalow! But then I'm an Anne-geek and a bit of an old fuss-pot about these things! I suppose the cover is attempting to look slightly more modern in an attempt to entice new readers in who might not otherwise pick up a classic book.
It's very hard to write about a book that I love so much. I find myself wanting to tell you everything, but then we'd be here for hours! Most importantly, I suppose, it is a beautifully written book, funny and moving and incredibly endearing. Somehow, all of the characters are instantly and vividly alive with each turn of the page. I wanted to be Anne (I still do!). I would have loved to have her red hair, and I longed for my very own Gilbert who I could haughtily disdain whilst secretly admiring! I loved that she loved books, like me. I loved her story club, because I wrote stories too. I loved that things didn't always go well for her, because it made her more real, and endeared her more to me. She infiltrated my life in quite a magical way, so that I went on to study English, to write my masters on Montgomery's books, to travel alone around the world to visit the tiny island on which she lived, and I have met so many wonderful 'kindred spirits' from all over the world thanks to Anne of Green Gables and L M Montgomery's other books. I hope lots of young girls see this edition and decide to pick it up and give it a try. Maybe it will be the book that lives in their hearts forever too.
You can go from Anne and read any of Montgomery's other books but my other particular favourite is Jane of Lantern Hill. Rilla of Ingleside is an important and enjoyable work although we weren't keen on the romance element. You might also enjoy A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett or The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
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You can read more book reviews or buy Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery at Amazon.com.
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