Anne of Green Gables is my first classic book review of the year. Written in 1908, I stumbled upon the title a few months ago in a list of classic must reads. The summary gave me the early 19th century adventure feels that I was in the market for, so I decided to dive into the story.
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Anne of Green Gables recounts the journey of an 11-year-old orphan girl, Anne Shirley, who is mistakenly sent to the home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. A middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in Avonlea.
“I've just been imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and that I was to stay here for ever and ever. It was a great comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”
Anne Shirley is a young, orphaned girl with a troubled past. At the age of 11 she sadly didn’t have a typical childhood, or in her words, a childhood at all, as she had to resume the role of caretaker to children younger than herself in the previous household she was placed in. To make up for her lack of freedom to be a child, she made up for in imagination. Anne is a wildly imaginative child and often uses the stories she creates in her head as a way to escape her reality. At times, her fancies worked against her by creating trouble for herself and being an easy target for other children to pick on. Despite having limited education, Anne is well-read and well-versed and enjoys using extremely large words any chance she gets. Once accepted, Anne is able to brighten the life of almost any person’s path she crosses.
The main characters found in Anne of Green Gables is first, Anne Shirley. Anne is a red-headed pale, skinned girl who is talkative, eager to please and becomes very defensive when others speak about her appearance. The Cuthberts, who take Anne in, is made of the sister and brother duo, Matthew and Marilla. Matthew is a quiet, gentle passive man who takes a liking to Anne quite quickly. Marilla, on the other hand, is stern and sensible. Upon Anne’s arrival she had no intention on keeping her since she is not a boy. As the story develops other characters are introduced such as the friends and nemesis that Anne makes at school as well as the town gossiper.
Writing Style & Tone
Even though the book touched on emotional subjects, Anne of Green Gables was originally written for young readers. The story is easy to read and flows well with great transitions and story development. The book is written in a linear format. The reader only learns about Anne’s path when she speaks about it since flashbacks are not common in the book. I really enjoyed the imaginary aspects and descriptive elements that were used throughout the story. It was easy to become completely emerged in the story and feel as if I too was a citizen of Avonlea.
Likes & Dislikes
While reading the story, I really came to enjoy each of the main characters. I adored Anne’s fancies, her sunny disposition despite her past, and the way she would always relish in a good moment. She will always be one of my favorite characters from a book. I’ve taken a note from her page and decided to try to really live in the moment a bit more. Matthew and Marilla both grew on me as well. Marilla contained an admirable mental toughness while Matthew served as the gentle peacemaker in the story.
My only dislike in the novel was towards the end. During most of the novel, Anne was in the 11-12 age range and then during the last few chapters the author flew through the 13 to 16 age range. Anne changed a lot during this time, but I felt as if the novel could have ended sooner than it did. But overall, it was still a great book that I really enjoyed.
Recommendation & Rating
I give Anne of Green Gables five out of five stars and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classic literature set in the early 19th century.
About the Author:
Lucy Maud Montgomery (November 30, 1874 - April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best know for the Anne of Green Gables series. The series was an immediate success and Montgomery developed an international following. She went on to publish 20 novels, 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays.
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