I just spent a selfish bit of time sitting on the couch reading the last 5% of Anne of Avonlea on my kindle while my children made occasional sad faces and complained of boredom, but mostly entertained themselves with fun toys and sibling antics. I think you all understand and agree that those last few pages of a book are sometimes too much to resist, especially a book as good as this classic by L.M. Montgomery.
This book begins as “a tall, slim girl, “half-past sixteen,” with serious grey eyes and hair which her friends called auburn, had sat down on the broad red sandstone doorstep of a Prince Edward Island farmhouse one ripe afternoon in August, firmly resolved to construe so many lines of Virgil.”
Anyone not familiar with Anne Shirley might read that sentence and say, “so what?” perhaps mingled with thoughts like, “That sentence was awfully nicely written.” But any true Anne fan will immediately feel a little shiver of delight and anticipation and read little bits of detail in that first paragraph with a knowing air of understanding of all things Anne. At least I did.
I think we can all rest assured that I loved this second book in the well known series of Anne books by Montgomery which so perfectly portray the coming of age of any girl. But I think the books do far more than just relate to girls growing up. It tells a story of a town, it relates numerous love stories that will make you think of your own love story whether it has already happily happened or you are just anticipating what your own will be like someday. It touches on religion in way that is not over bearing or too preachy, but rather dreamy and speculative, which is probably my favorite way to think about religion.
A big theme in this book seems to be misconceptions or preconceptions, the idea that you might go into a life milestone or hobby or career with one idea of how things will be, but eventually discover something else altogether, and how often you find that new discovery to be even better than you could have imagined. Anne seems to learn this lesson a lot in several moments of her two years spent teaching at Avonlea and I felt reading the book that ultimately this would lead to her discovering her true feelings for Gilbert, although that might just be the hopeless romantic in me. If Anne of Green Gables, etc. are a love story, they are a very slow moving, prude and patient sort of story where you find yourself squealing with delight when one person puts their arm around another and nothing else happens at all, but you and he and she and anyone else privy to the moment all understand that it was everything.
So now I’ve finished the book and part of me wants to jump right into book three, Anne of the Island, but I have a few review books that I need to attend to first and depending on when I finish those, it may be time to read the next book for my bookclub and who knows what else will be calling to me, but I can assure you I’ll only have the willpower to wait so long, whether or not it manages to fall in line with my L.M. Montgomery reading challenge this month, I can’t say. I am planning to watch the miniseries adaptation of this book in the next week, so at least I’ll be able to linger in Avonlea a bit longer, even as I move onto other books.
What was your favorite of the Anne books?
I read this book for several reasons. The first being a new found adoration for all things Anne Shirley. The second being my participation in Carrie @ Reading To Know’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge this month and coincidentally it also happens to be regarded as a classic work of literature making it my first classic book read this year in my 2011 Classics Challenge.