Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, was first published in 1908. For those interested, I read the 2004 Sterling Publishing edition.
Anne of Green Gables introduces Anne Shirley, the outspoken, impish, and fiercely independent girl who has been an endless source of fascination for millions of readers, young and old. We first meet Anne at age eleven, an imaginative, fiery, red-headed child sent by mistake from the orphanage to Mathew Cuthbert and his sister, Marilla. The Cuthberts, who had requested a boy to help with the work around the farm, were not at all pleased by this “freckled witch” of a child, with her constant chatter, outlandish ideas, and outspoken ways. But soon her indomitable spirit, her bright intelligence, and her high-spirited idealism win over Matthew and Marilla, even as these same traits lead Anne into mishap after mishap. Joining Anne in her exploits are her best friend, the beautiful and bookish Diana Barry; her nemesis, Gilbert Blythe, who insults her “Carrot” tresses on the first day of school; and the other colorful and quirky residents of the remote village of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Canada.
I have mixed opinions about Montgomery’s work in general, but I love, love, love Anne of Green Gables. As a child, it was my go-to book to get at the library if I didn’t know what else to read. I fondly remember the raspberry cordial, the lost amethyst broach, and, of course, the “carrots” incident. And on this reread, there were some things in the book that I had forgotten, such as the large timespan of the novel (Anne is 11 when the book starts and 16 when it finishes) and the Queens chapters.
I don’t know why reading about a fictional character’s life growing up in early 1900s Canada is so endearing and timeless, but Montgomery has written a classic here. The best part is that the book is funny. Montgomery both praises and chides Anne for her imagination, and reminds us all the way imagination can shape someone’s life—and what a benefit it can be to use your imagination properly.
Anne of Green Gables is much longer than I remember it being, yet it never drags and never stops being anything but charming. It’s a sophisticated book for a child to read, depending on their reading level, but it’s one that should absolutely be read for its look at imagination alone. And if you want to visualize it on the screen, I highly recommend the 1985 film starring Megan Fellows as Anne.
Recommended Age Range: 10+ (and lower!)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s
“I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe,” said Anne firmly. “And Mr. Phillips spelled my name without an e, too. The iron has entered my soul, Diana.”
Diana hadn’t the least idea what Anne meant but she understood it was something terrible.
“You mustn’t mind Gilbert making fun of your hair,” she said soothingly. “Why, he makes fun of all the girls. He laughs at mine because it’s so black. He’s called me a crow a dozen times; and I never heard him apologize for anything before, either.”
“There’s a great deal of difference between being called a crow and being called carrots,” said Anne with dignity. “Gilbert Blythe has hurt my feelings excruciatingly, Diana.”