This is one of those books that I never would have read as an adult without the encouragement of the book blogging world. I read this along with Book Hoarders Anonymous, an online book club hosted by The Cheap Reader. I have to say, I am really glad I read along. We are reading A Wrinkle in Time next month, so if you haven’t read it and need a little prodding or just want to reread it along with some others in a very low pressure environment… join us!
Anne Shirley is probably my new favorite book character of all times. She is an optimistic, imaginative dreamer. She has moments of impulsiveness that are all too relatable. She tries so hard to be good, but things often go awry for her. She is smart and stubborn. She loves easily. Everyone around her loves her and is a better person for knowing her. There was a foreword in my copy of the book that described Anne as coming off the pages and that is exactly true. I think Montgomery had a flair for creating really wonderful characters.
Which brings me to Anne’s adoptive guardians, the elderly Cuthbert siblings, Matthew and Marilla. Matthew is an awkward, shy man who is instantly charmed by Anne. He is inclined to spoil her and often slyly intervenes in her bringing up. Marilla is a serious, rather uptight spinster who is changed by her relationship with Anne. She softens some, reclaims her buried sense of humor and imagination, and learns to love someone unguardedly. I loved Marilla almost as much as I loved Anne. It was tough to see her struggle with expressing her love for Anne, but in the end that seems to work itself out.
This is one of those books that isn’t really plot-driven, but is more like a series of anecdotes or stories that help construct a character. In that sense it reminded me of The Virginian, which is the only other novel I think I’ve read from the early 1900s. I think that may have been in vogue for novels at the time. It can be hard for me to stay engaged with a story of this structure, especially since I am accustomed to novels these days, which tend to be more plot-driven and less character-focused. But sometimes it is rewarding to step outside your comfort zone and Anne of Green Gables was totally worth it.