It seems fitting to start this month long blog-a-thon with a review of a book by one of my all time favorite authors. There was a time, when I first discovered L.M. Montgomery (thanks to a friend giving me the first three books in the Anne series as a birthday gift. Thanks, Kathy Kim!) where I devoured her books with a voracious appetite, checking more books out of the library and begging my parents to buy the ones my school library didn’t have. But the book which started my L.M. Montgomery obsession and thus always with a special place in my heart was Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Green Gables tells the story of Anne Shirley. Anne (with an “e” and don’t you forget it) is an eleven-year-old, red-headed, kind-hearted, fiery-tempered orphan adopted by a brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla, who are looking for help on their farm, Green Gables. They sent for a boy but received Anne instead. Quiet Matthew is immediately taken with the talkative and vivacious Anne but Marilla is determined to send her back and get the boy needed for the farm. Marilla relents (to appease her brother, she says, but we all know she’s charmed by Anne too) and Anne begins living in the first stable home she has ever known. She makes mistake (she accidentally gets her best friend, Diana, drunk. She loses Marilla’s prize brooch, she climbs on a roof on a dare and breaks her ankle when she falls off, she smashes a slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head when he calls her “Carrots,” etc, etc) but she also brings life and light to Green Gables, sharing her innate joy in life with Matthew, Marilla, and the reader.
I think part of the reason I loved Anne so much at a young age is that she was one of the first fictional characters I ever read about who had had a, frankly, crap childhood. That ends when her time at Green Gables begins but her telling of her history to Matthew as they travel home from the train station is quite something. It was not terribly similar to my own crap childhood but at 12 it was relieving to read about a character whose main problem wasn’t that she didn’t have boobs yet (I’m looking at you, Margaret). It didn’t hurt that Anne was fiercely intelligent, totally disdainful of teasing boys, brave, loyal and fond of writing (bad) poetry. Anne was absolutely a kindred spirit, is what I’m saying. She and I have been bosom friends since the day I first read her eponymous novel.