When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables send for a boy orphan to help them out at their farm, they mistakenly get Anne Shirley, a feisty, independent, but warm-hearted eleven-year-old girl. Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination win the hearts of her reluctant foster parents and everyone in the community. But not a day goes by without some memorable adventure or prank in the tragicomedy of her life.
3 1/2 stars
Yes, this is a re-read. But I sat there and read the whole thing and I don’t have anything else finished for today so HERE WE GO! Besides, I think it’s quite interesting to compare reading this now to how it was when I read it as a child.
If you had asked me to rate this as a kid, I probably would have given it at least a solid four. While not one of my favorite series, I did decide to read through the entire series. It was in my library, so why not? I thought that Anne was a lot like me. Not the red hair, no, but rather her affinity for school and big words and imagination, but also her ability to do really stupid things.
This book has yet to lose any of that charm for me. Granted, I now find Anne slightly more annoying, in the way that I find the childhood me embarrassing and annoying. (You know what I mean. Nobody likes themselves as kids.) I also find Anne’s tendency to get into “scrapes” just as amusing (and embarrassing), even if it leaves me shaking my head more than anything else.
The over-dramatization of Anne’s moods certainly get to me now more than they did as a kid. She easily slides from cutesy to goodness sake shut up much faster than she used to. Her dealing with Gilbert, especially, makes me eye roll. He tried to hard to be nice, Anne! Her vanity is something I didn’t notice much before, either, that now bothers me a lot. The novel’s set up as Anne’s lessons to be learned is also more apparent and heavy handed than I used to think.
I know that when I first read the book, I thought that making Anne grow up was a bad thing. I felt so sorry for her, when she had to leave all her dreams and imagination behind. I felt angry that she would so easily abandon her imagination and dreams. This is where my understanding of this book has grown by leaps and bounds.
I’m still sad about what happens to Anne in the end. Whether I found her mostly annoying or mostly not, the abrupt change in her attitude by the end creates a sense of wistful regret. I have to admit that Anne responded marvelously to everything that happens to her, but it still makes me sad. The first book in this series is a sad little reminder of what we lose when we grow up, when we understand the world is bigger than we think it is. It is easy to find your childhood self resembling Anne, but it is harder to admit that we all went through the same transformation that Anne does. We all had to leave a bit of our fanciful imaginations behind when we grew up. This realization makes the end of the book even more emotional than it was before.
All in all, this book is one that stood the test of time for me. It never was a book I was crazy over, but now it’s developed a special place in my heart because of what it makes me feel and what it represents. I’m sort of curious about re-reading the whole series over again, just to see how I take the whole thing, now. Maybe when I have free time. If you would like to do so, this book is free on the Kindle. So go read!