You may or may not know, that one of my reading goals for 2015 was to host a Green Gables Readalong, which is challenging everyone to read (or reread in many cases) the entire collection written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. One book from the collection each month, for the next eight months. Full details can be found here. Up first was the book that started it all and what many people call one of the best Canadian novels of our time, Anne of Green Gables.
I read Anne of Green Gables as a child, then again as an adult (in 2010) and now I’ve revisited it again in 2015. Surprisingly, this is the only book I think I’ve read three times in my life and I can honestly say, that I’ve yet to tire of Anne Shirley’s audacity and dramatic flare. It seems odd to share the premise of the book, especially when it’s a book that’s sold 50 million copies and anyone that has any interest in this blog will likely know the plot of Anne of Green Gables. So rather than writing a review of my thoughts on the book (don’t worry, reviews will come for future books in the collection), I’m going to share with you things that surprised me in my third revisit to this book.
1. I thought that Marilla Cuthbert was mean – As I noted above, the last time I read this book was only five years ago, so I’m surprised I was so off base with this, but when I opened up the book, I had ill will towards Marilla. Automatically, I thought “here’s grumpy and strict Marilla”, but in rereading the book, I had a completely different approach to her character. I found her to be sympathetic, loving and encouraging of Anne. Sure, she thinks Anne’s elaborate imagination needs to be reigned in, but this time in reading, I felt like her tongue and imagination were actually qualities Marilla admired about Anne. She knows that these qualities help make Anne unique and make her stand out. She had strength, patience and continuously encourages Anne to be more, to do more. I’d never thought I’d see the day in which I’d rank Marilla Cuthbert as my second favourite character in this book, but that’s what she became.
2. Matthew Cuthbert – I cried as a child. I cried when I was 25. I knew it was coming. I mentally prepared myself. I still cried.
3. Anne’s progression – Weirdly enough, I didn’t remember that Anne goes from age eleven to sixteen in this novel. I felt like every time a new chapter started, three weeks had passed, seasons had changed and milestones had happened. This happens in many novels, time passes, chunks of things are missing, but for some reason, I felt like since there were so many books in the series, we were going to get to spend more time with childhood Anne. I’m not necessarily complaining, I just enjoyed the hijinks of Anne as a child. Her temper, her obsession with puffed sleeves, her need to have any other colour hair. She had such antics as a child and as she grows older, she becomes more focused on her stories, less focused on sharing her thoughts in fear of laughter and odd looks. It was sad to see her grow up in a way, because her innocence begins to fade. That being said, I did admire her desire to step up when her family needed her and to own her mistakes (Gilbert Blythe).
4. The responsibility of raising Anne – I don’t remember ever feeling that there was such a divide in the “raising” of Anne, but there were two occasions in the book where Marilla and Matthew acknowledge that it is Marilla that is raising Anne. And I get it. It was written in 1908. It seems obvious that Marilla would be the one raising Anne, but is that really the case? Anne relied just as much on Matthew as she did Marilla and even though, he doesn’t technically take part in the punishing of Anne or maintaining her ongoings, his support and involvement are very present. I found these passages really interesting to read, because I feel as if both brother and sister raised Anne in helping to make her the strong, smart and independent woman she becomes. Thoughts? Did anyone else feel the same way?
5. Gilbert Blythe is a gem – Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Gilbert was a few years older than Anne, so maybe he knew better than to tease Anne at his age, but man does he ever pay the price of a harmless prank. FIVE YEARS. Five years is the amount of time that poor boy puts up with the silent treatment. I get it. She felt harmed by his nasty comment, but to keep a grudge for five years seems a bit much. And the crazy thing is, is that Gilbert always seems ready to mend it. To apologize. To smile. To extend a helping hand. Sure, he’s clearly in love with her, but I admired his constant willingness to try to make amends.
These were some of the things that popped out for me in reading Anne of Green Gables. What about you? Were there any new discoveries? Were there any fond memories? Share with me below in the comments and remember to join the online conversations by using the hashtag #GreenGablesReadalong on all your social media channels.