L. M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
Read By: Mary Sarah
Length: 9h 30min (336 pages)
Genre: Children’s Classic
Started: 11 April 2016
Finished: 21 April 2016
Where did it come from? Audible.
Why do I have it? Book club selection.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 07 April 2016.
Are people other
than orphans allowed to be
“plucky”? Just asking.
Summary: Middle-aged Matthew Cuthbert and his sister Marilla meant to adopt a boy to help them around their farm, so they were rather surprised when the 11-year-old red-headed Anne Shirley shows up on their doorstop instead. Anne immediately loves the little house at Green Gables, and wants more than anything for it to be home, and for Matthew and Marilla to be her family. But what are the two of them going to do with an imaginative, talkative, and boisterous young girl? And how will Anne fit in with Matthew and Marilla, not to mention in school, and in town, when her lively spirit leads her to get into more scrapes and adventures than is entirely proper for a young woman in the early 1900s?
Review: This was always a book that I thought I had read in childhood. I owned a copy (still do, at my parents’ house), and I would have sworn up and down to you that I’d read it. But when my book club selected it and I started listening to it, it turns out that if I had ever read it before, then ALL of the details had completely abandoned me in the intervening years, much worse than is usually the case with my terrible memory. So I don’t think I’d ever read it as a child (I probably never got past that first sentence, damn!), and this review is therefore from the perspective of someone reading it for the first time in her mid-30s. And while I enjoyed it, it didn’t bowl me over, although I can certainly see how if I’d encountered this book as a kid I would have loved it – Anne gets into plenty of scrapes and adventures, and it’s funny and charming and just old-fashioned enough that my 10-year-old self would have eaten it up.
I couldn’t help but compare it to my actual favorite book from childhood, A Little Princess. Both are about imaginative, kind, plucky orphans, but while Sara Crewe is largely defined by her self-contained nature, Anne is much more of an extrovert. And I think this explains whatever difference in my reactions to the two books can’t be explained by the ages at which I read them. I recognized a lot of my own introverted ways in A Little Princess, whereas I am nothing like Anne Shirley, and her constant blathering actually started to wear on my nerves more than once. (I’m firmly in Marila’s camp on this one – maybe because I listened to the audiobook, but ye gods, girl, pipe down for ten seconds, please?)
I also found the structure kind of strange. The book takes place over a substantially longer time span than I was expecting. Anne goes from 11 to 18 (or so) over the course of the book, but most of the book is told in a very episodic fashion focusing on her varied misadventures. As a result, time moves somewhat unevenly throughout the course of the book, and the latter sections, when Anne is older and a little more mature, seems a little at odds with the earlier, funnier sections when she was a kid. I also found some of the foreshadowing to be rather unsubtle (maybe not surprising; it is a book for kids, after all), but I also simultaneously found the ending to be rather abrupt in some ways.
Overall, though, I had a fun time listening to this book, and I can see why it’s a children’s classic, even if I read it 25 years too late for it to be a personal favorite. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If this *was* a childhood favorite for you, you’re probably already lining up with pitchforks to tell me why I’m wrong for not loving it. If you didn’t get to it in childhood, give it to your kids, and maybe dive into it yourself when you’re needing something charming and cute.
Other Reviews: Rhapsody in Books Weblog, Sarah Reads Too Much, Vulpes Libres, The Written World, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.
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