Scoop of the e-e-evening: Anne of Green Gables

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.


Marie DeVries said...

I just finished Anne a couple days ago, and I only found a couple errors. I may have to reread it to see if I can spot them.

I have decided I want to buy Anne of Green Gables for a pick-me-up-book; so that whenever I need a break, or a smile, I can start this novel once again. Anne just makes me laugh and smile and forget my worries.

What are some of Montgomery's other books? I cannot wait to read them!

Noel De Vries said...

Read The Blue Castle!!

If you're liking Anne, then continue with Anne of Avonlea.

For a series more dark and serious, read Emily of New Moon.

For a sweet stand-alone, Jane of Lantern Hill.

There are more, but that should get you started. :)

I'm glad you liked Anne ... the typos I mention are in the 100th Anneversary edition pictured.

Girl Detective said...

I followed you from semicolon. I too love Anne, but I think I'll stick with my beloved old paperbacks--they're more easily transportable. A friend lent me Blue Castle when I was a girl. I loved it, and didn't get my own copy till I was in my late 20's. When I re-read it, though, the story was still lovely, but the writing wasn't, and I've been hesitant to re-read Anne ever since.

Noel De Vries said...

Writing styles change ... just because Montgomery was verbose doesn't change my admiration for her stories. It's the writing of another time, but no less valuable than today's popular styles. We get comfy with modern writing so easily!!

Thanks for stopping by, girl detective!

Carrie said...

I own everything written by Montgomery - including her poems (which I have to confess I dont' really like but had to read) minus her journals and one piece of non-fiction that I haven't been able to get my hands on.

No matter which book of hers I am reading - I instantly feel cheered. I named my business after The Blue Castle, I too traveled to PEI, no place on earth can move me internally like that Island, and I adore Anne. It is the best of her works but every single piece is enjoyable in a different way.

Needless to say, I enjoyed your review very much. =)

Maw Books said...

I haven't read any other Montgomery novels besides the Anne series which I just adore. I have early memories of this being on of the first "big" books I'd read. And I own all the movies! I love those too.

Framed said...

I was probably over 20 before I realized there were more books after Anne of Green Gables. I promptly got them all and read them several times, as well as some of her others. I love "The Story Girl" and have "The Blue Castle" and "Among the Shadows" sitting on the shelves. Thanks for reminding of how great Montgomery's books are.

Noel De Vries said...

But you've READ the journals, haven't you, carrie? :) I'm not alone here, am I?

Yes, the movies are such the best, maw books. My siblings were watching them last night, as it happens.

The Story Girl!! They sillied up that book with the Tales from Avonlea, but yes, The Story Girl is another one I love. And just think, I've actually seen the real blue chest in PEI! And the real pulpit rock ... wasn't that what they called it? Something like that...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

sally apokedak said...

Funny. I loved all the Anne books and I still do. I loved Emily, who I met before Anne, and now I can't read them because the theology bothers me (or more the way I thought she was painting organized religion as dead and harsh). I tried Pat and Blue Castle as an adult and couldn't read more than a chapter or two in either of them.

Noel De Vries said...

Yes, the Montgomery theology is a problem ... raised by a harsh minister-grandfather, married to a man afflicted with "religious melencholy" (whatever that is) and steeped in an era where Christians were sinners in the hands of an angry God, Maud just couldn't see past that to get to the heart of Christianity. A great pity.

The Blue Castle starts slowly... I'm sorry you couldn't get into it.

But we can still be friends.