Once you’ve finished a book, you close the spine, take out your bookmark and find it a comfy, never to be touched again, spot on your bookshelf. Well at least that’s how the scenario plays out in my case. Sure, I glance at the book as I reorganize my shelf and I do that dreaded game of “should I keep it” game when I’m doing some spring cleaning, but on average, the likelihood of me picking up that book again is very slim. That’s why I’m loving doing this Green Gables Readalong. I’ve had eight mass market L.M. Montgomery books on my shelves since I was twelve years old and now for the first time in years, I’ve revisited them. I’m dusting off their pages and rediscovering old dog eared pages and highlighted passages. It’s part of the charm of doing a readalong with a collection you already know and love.
When I picked up my copy of the third book in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley Collection, I discovered how much I appeared to have loved Anne of the Island. There were notes in the margin and a lot of circles throughout the book. As I reread this beautiful novel, I rediscovered my love of Anne’s adventures to Nova Scotia and how her path to self discovery takes place in the place I often refer to as home. In the opening pages of Anne of the Island, we read about Anne boarding a ferry to Nova Scotia en route to Redmond College, based on the still standing, Dalhousie University and the “quaint old town” of Kingsport, which is otherwise known as Halifax. Of course, a new town brings new adventures and new characters. Including my favourite, Philippa Gordon, a love struck young woman with a flighty personality and a carefree attitude. Her lack of direction and structure amuses Anne until she and Priscilla Grant decide to purchase a home to live in for their duration at Redmond College. I adored the pages when Anne and Priscilla have to sit down with the ever amusing Phil and explain that they won’t put up with her nonsense in their home.
In true L.M. Montgomery form, we don’t just read about a few months in Anne’s life, we span her whole four years at Redmond in which she travels home to Avonlea to check on dear Marilla and of course Davy and Dora. She also travels home to bury her cherished friend Ruby Gillis who dies of tuberculosis. When you bury a friend so young and so unexpectedly, it’s sure to shake you up and Anne’s world is a little bit bleaker. She finds solace in her schooling and her dear friends, including Gilbert Blythe. But Gilbert’s had enough of being just friends and finally declares his love for Anne, admitting he fell in love with her the day he pulled her red pigtail. Anne, unfortunately reveals that she just doesn’t feel the same way and strikes up a relationship with a fellow student named Roy Gardner.
But just when Anne thinks she has everything figured out, things take a turn once again and point her down a path she never thought she’d travel. Anne of the Island can easily be called my favourite book of the series this far; filled with charm, growth and love, we meet a striking young woman with a good head on her shoulders mixed with a familiar sense of the quirky Anne we’ve all grown to love. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Anne of Windy Poplars in which Anne Shirley has left Redmond College and Green Gables behind to begin a new chapter of her life in the “dreaming town” of Summerside.
Did YOU enjoy Anne of the Island as much as I did? Which is your favourite book in the series? 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.