“I read it to Marilla and she said it was stuff and nonsense. Then I read it to Matthew and he said it was fine. That is the kind of critic I like.” ~Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
If you’re looking for an unbiased review, keep looking. Anne of Green Gables was one of the earliest influences on my independent reading life—right after The Boxcar Children, right before Nancy Drew. No matter how old I get, or how many times I traverse Montgomery’s unfashionable, flowery prose, as a critic I’ll always say it’s fine. More than fine. Just right.
Coming back to an author’s first novel after reading her later work is an interesting experience. I’ve been dipping into the Pat books again, gathering brogue for my own Irish character, and then, of course, rereading The Blue Castle is practically an annual ritual with me. Anne contains more authorial monologues, in a simpler, more moralistic tone than she later grew into, but it’s in keeping with the sweet simplicity of her main character.
Montgomery will always be my favorite author. As a fourteen year old, I devoured every single story she ever produced. As a twelfth-grader, I chose Prince Edward Island for my “senior trip.” And as a twenty-one year old who is increasingly aware of the fact that my obsession with children’s literature is not something I’m going to grow out of, Montgomery still casts the same spell: “…when she began to sing I didn’t think about anything else. Oh, I can’t tell you how I felt. But it seemed to me that it could never be hard to be good any more. I felt like I do when I look up at the stars. Tears came into my eyes, but, oh, they were such happy tears.”
Traveling over a story when you know every inch is both comfortable and comforting. A book that withstands—even demands—such familiarity from the masses is a book that will no doubt endure another hundred years of time and tide.
Note on the text: You’d think after a century of editing, the anniversary edition would have a pretty clean text. Not so! It contained more errors than I’ve read in a single book in ages. Not just trifling “on”s for “or”s … but “Mania” instead of “Marilla” … a comma between Katie and Maurice! I absolutely had to buy this edition because of the cover (the “special introduction” is worthless), but the printing errors are something to rant about.