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Caro

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

I have just finished this as a relaxing read in between others.  I have read the Anne books many a time, though perferred as a child/teenager the more romantic ones of her later years.  But I can see that Anne of GG is probably a more considered and stylistic book that her later ones.  Anne  (I suppose you all know this) is adopted by the Cuthberts of Avonlea when Matthew, a farmer around 60 years old, goes to adopt a boy to help him, and falls for the chatty, lonely Anne, who is provided by mistake.  Anne is eleven, with red hair which she hates, has a great love of natural beauty, is imaginative to a fault and impulsive.

The first book deals with her school years, filled with love of the farm and its people, and hatred for Gilbert Blythe who had twitted her about her carrot hair.  I said earlier that one of the pleasures I had from reading it this time was to notice how much we see through dour Marilla's eyes, her instant recognition of the lonely, love-starved child and the way she has been treated in other families and institutions, her covert amusement at some of Anne's chattings, her growing awareness of how much the girl means to her.  

The book (like all Montgomery's) is full of moral musings - Anne aspires to being very good, and some of the things that are considered bad seem a little ludicrous today.  Anne colours her hair (taken in by a dishonest pedlar) which turns green, and wails that she knew it was wrong to dye her hair.  Now, we might still consider vanity a morally dubious trait (though that's doubtful in itself), but no one considers hair colouring a moral sin these days.  No one seems to point out, though, that carrying an unreasoning grudge over a small remark, apologied for, could be considered rather wrong.  Tidiness and hard work are also valued.  But so is a style of educating that takes account of the child, that makes learning interesting and fun, that emphasises both competition and cooperation.  Montgomery is very modern in this attitude.  

One thing in these books that I remember from and appreciated in the past, is considerable talk of literature and quotes from poetry.  Not always good poetry - again sentiment is the strong theme for much of this.  Bingen on the Rhine is mentioned several times by someone I haven't heard of, and other poems have moralistic endings or romantic stories.  But I learnt snippets of poetry and names of famous writers from these books, which have stood me in good stead over the years.  I wouldn't have much understood talk of Whigs and Tories as a child, but it good to see a child's book that bothers with these things to some degree.  And really good to read one where adults are important, and not brushed out so the kids can have lots of adventures.  The focus here is always on Anne, but how adults see her, how she fits into their world, where they fail her and bolster her, all these things are shown well and realistically.  

A while ago I read one of Montgomery's peripheral Anne books and thought I wouldn't read more, as the values weren't mine now (religion and patriotism abound), the writing wasn't great and there were a lot of tales of pride and holding grudges.  But now I think I might make my way through these main Anne books again - they are the sort of thing that is good to have in my handbag for spare reading moments.  

This was meant to be a small review, but it's surprising what even a child's book has in it.  

Cheers, Caro.
Evie

Anne of Green Gables is fabulous - it's so funny, but rooted in the very real heartbreak of an orphan who has to give her own life meaning and value, and until she finds Marilla and Matthew her life is dreadful, so that she becomes heroic in her romantic way of overcoming this.

Anne of Avonlea was also good, but I'm afraid I thought the others were tosh - once she is grown up and married, the magic has gone, and it's all a bit boring and forced.  Anne seems to lose her spark, and that sense of why her romantic (and unintentionally humorous) thoughts and escapades are essential to her life.
Mikeharvey

I have never read the book ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, but I remember seeing a very enjoyable stage musical version ages ago.  Polly James played Anne.
Marita

I have Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea in one volume on my bookshelves. It is one of those English language classics for children that Iíve never read so when I saw this cheap edition I bought it out of curiosity.



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