Kicking off the Green Gables Readalong with the Book that Started it All!

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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 IMG_8933qualities 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.

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20 thoughts on “Kicking off the Green Gables Readalong with the Book that Started it All!

  1. Court says:

    I think a lot of us looked at Marilla differently this time around. And the biggest discovery for me was that Gilbert wasn’t quite as boring I remembered him being. 🙂 Looking forward to the next book now!

  2. The Paperback Princess says:

    I had a chuckle at “Gilbert is a gem” because of Jem.

    Just me? Ok. Moving on.

    Gilbert really does pay a high price for teasing Anne. That girl is stubborn when she wants to be. He’s one of the most delicious love interests in fiction I think. And the fact that this was written in 1908 makes him even better – he treats Anne as mostly an equal throughout the series, which was probably not super common at the time.

    I agree with you about Marilla 1000%. She is the best. We should all be so lucky to have a Marilla in our lives.

    And Matthew. Still cried. And I’m with you on the raising. I don’t think I ever noticed before that they really did share the responsibility. Most of the time he leaves Marilla to it but every once in a while there is something that he feels so strongly about that he’s willing to buy pounds and pounds of brown sugar to make it happen.

    I cannot WAIT to dig into Anne of Avonlea!

  3. Naomi says:

    1. I have always loved Marilla. Even as a child, I understood her nature. But I understand it even better now, and along with the hilarious sarcasm, she has risen to tie with my love for Matthew.
    2. Tears were streaming down my face, as always.
    3. I was also surprised by how fast Anne grew up – I don’t really remember that happening before. It is sad when she stops her long, page-long ramblings.
    4. I think the definition of raising kids has changed since then. In 1908 it meant teaching them and disciplining them. Now, it means everything, so, I completely agree that Matthew was just as involved as Marilla. He just had a different parenting style. 🙂
    5. Gilbert Blythe is a gem, has always been a gem, and will always be a gem. I used to wish he was real. Maybe I still do. 🙂

    I was surprised by how much I still loved reading this book. I’m even more excited about the rest, because I don’t remember them as well. Thanks for hosting!

  4. raidergirl3 says:

    Right on on everything – Marilla, who actually grows the most in the book; Matthew – I don’t even prepare myself. Matthew would be my go to ‘cry moment’ if I was an actor. I could bring up the tears in seconds just picturing his love for Anne. I’m practically in tears right now! And Gil, sigh. There must be a theory that girls that read and loved Anne and Gilbert as children never fall for the ‘bad boy’ type as they get older. We want someone like Gilbert Blythe.

    I mentioned before that I just listened to the first three books last summer/fall and fell in love with the series all over again. So wonderful.
    This is so great – I love talking about Anne and reading other’s insights into the books! There was a community at livejournal a few years ago called Echo Lodge where a group discussed Montgomery and the books.

  5. Lost in a Great Book says:

    It kind of amazed me how differently I saw the book. The emotional impact was the same, but I had a lot more sympathy for Marilla and Matthew – especially his paralysing shyness when he had to buy the dress. While I still see Mrs. Lynde as a busybody, I also can picture at least 5 women I know in town who are just the same, and who have the kindest heart under their rough exterior. Love, love Gilbert though – and you are right, he’s in the same class as Anne, but a couple of years older due to travels and illness in his family if I remember correctly.
    I was a little more surprised at the end of the book when I realized that Anne is only 16 when she declines school and decides to teach – a teacher at 16!!! Nowadays, we would encourage kids to take a year or two to travel, to work, etc. so I guess it’s not all that different.

  6. Kailana says:

    As I reread this book last year, I didn’t do the reread this month… I did it as an audio last year and really enjoyed it. I have Anne of Avonlea read by the same narrator, so I am hoping to do the audio of that next month! Otherwise, I do have the physical print copy, of course.

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  8. Karen @ One More Page... says:

    I finished my re-read of this this morning (I’m late, I know!) but oh man. The first thing I was going to talk about was #2. I knew it was coming, but somehow I still couldn’t hold the tears back. So many feelings.

    I think you’re right to say that Matthew had just as much of a hand in raising Anne as Marilla did, though his was a quieter role. But he was always so encouraging and loving that I think Anne really benefited from having someone so outwardly proud of her when Marilla took a while to express her feelings.

    Gilbert Blythe… he really is a gem. It’s so funny to see that the grudge-holding was solely on Anne’s side. I can’t wait to read more about them in the consequent books…

    Thanks again for hosting this readalong!! It’s so fun to read things together and talk about it!

  9. Lynn says:

    Although I finished reading this book January 15th, just now completed the blog post at Smoke & Mirrors (http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/2015/02/meet-anne-voluble-and-imaginative-child.html). This was my first reading. I loved this book. Cried like a baby. Matthew was my favorite character. In my review I used many quotes, ’cause I absolutely loved Montgomery’s use of words. Some of those quotes demonstrated the interplay of Marilla and Matthew’s varied “parenting” styles. Although they were brother and sister, I felt this mirrored many married/partnered couple who parent. I so admired Anne…and Marilla…and Gilbert. I’m not sure Anne deserves him, but Gilbert is, in my opinion, a true gem. 🙂 Almost too good to be true… I think I really liked this book so much because it definitely wasn’t as “Pollyanna-ish” as I feared it might be, and although some characters were a bit “crusty” on the outside, we were able to experience some of their good characteristics as well. There was something to like about darned near everybody. Just a fantastic read! Thanks so much for this read-along! Just what I needed to add a bit of variety. And the new GG set I purchased will be great for the grandkids when I’m done!

  10. buriedinprint says:

    Yes, yes, yes to all you’ve said! I’m always up for a reread of Anne; I’m late discovering this, but I can catch up!

  11. buriedinprint says:

    It took me forever to get caught up, but I am finally, at long last, in Rilla now. And what a treat it has turned out to be!

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