I’ve recently gone on a reading spree covering some of my favorites from my childhood… starting with Anne of Green Gables.
For those who haven’t read it, Anne of Green Gables is the first in a series of books concerning Anne Shirley, an orphan who’s adopted by a brother and sister who are older, unmarried, and childless. They were expecting to adopt a boy to help with farmwork, but received an imaginative and quick-tempered girl instead. The Cuthberts live on a farm called Green Gables in the town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the late 1800s.
Anne gets into a LOT of light-hearted trouble, such as dyeing her hair green, accidentally getting her friend drunk, and convincing herself that the woods near Green Gables are haunted. It’s all very serious to her, of course, which is part of the charm of the novel: Anne wants very much to be good and loved, not cause disappointment or be humiliated, but is quite often her own worst enemy.
My favorite parts, though, are seeing the world through Anne’s eyes. She renames Mr. Barry’s pond to the Lake of Shining Waters and a nearby road to the White Way of Delight before she even reaches Green Gables the first time. The first novel is full of beautiful descriptions and Anne’s imaginative new names for these places.
Most of this first book in the series in Anne’s dialog – she talks a LOT, at length, and often with hilarious results – these poor PEI folks don’t know what hit them when Anne starts talking – but occasionally there are these gems that, as a young girl and even today, I really identified with.
There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a trouble-some person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.
Anne is talking to her best friend Diana here, about how when she’s outside enjoying nature, she doesn’t care about school.. but when she’s at school all she cares about is being top of the class. I certainly identified with that. Summers seemed like they lasted forever and school was a different world completely!
What do I think Anne Shirley taught me?
- A sincere apology is always appreciated, but may not be believed.
- When you have a strong imagination, you must also have a strong sense of reality.
- Baking can create unpredictable results. As Anne said, “I shall just have to trust in Providence and be careful to put in the flour.”
- The above quote can also be applied to the lesson that wishing for something is one thing, but working towards your goal is a bit more.
- Don’t buy hair dye from a travelling salesman.
- Things are never as bad as they seem.
- The boy who teases you has a crush on you.
Should kids today still read it? Yes, if only because it’s a fairly accurate portrayal of everyday life in the late 1800s for a kid. I’m a firm believer that books are a view into other times and places, and Anne of Green Gables definitely fits into that category.