Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Fiction  Series
Ages 10 and up
Random House, 1982   ISBN: 978-0553213133

To the amazement of the good people of Avonlea, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a brother and sister who never married, have decided that they are going to adopt an orphan boy; Matthew is no longer as young as he used to be and he could do with a little help around the farm. The thing of it is, when Matthew goes to get the boy from the train station he discovers that some kind of mix-up has taken place, and there is a girl waiting for him at the station and not a boy. She's not just any girl either. This girl has flaming red hair, she never seems to stop talking, and what she says can be very peculiar and very funny.

Though Anne Shirley has had very little education, she has somehow picked up a lot of ideas, and she is a bottomless well of questions. Matthew, who normally is rather afraid of little girls, is quite bewitched by the strange and fanciful child. At first Marilla is convinced that Anne should be returned to the orphan asylum as soon as is possible, but Anne, in just a few days, grows on her too. Matthew is convinced that Anne should stay, and before Marilla quite knows what is what, Anne is settled into one of the gable bedrooms in the Cuthbert house.

Marilla with her sharp tongue and old-fashioned ideas, and Matthew with his gentle, quiet and generous ways, soon find themselves severely tried by the “scrapes” that Anne gets into. No matter how hard she tries, Anne still manages to ‘find’ trouble.

There is the time when Anne gets her best friend Diana quite drunk by accident. On another occasion Anne puts some very unexpected flavoring in a cake; she mistakes a bottle of iodine for a bottle of vanilla and the result is too dreadful to eat. One day Anne plays the part of a poetical heroine only to discover that the boat in which she is sitting is sinking.

When she is not getting into trouble, Anne is coming up with all sorts of ideas, the more “romantic” they are the better. Anne’s biggest asset, perhaps, is that she has an “imagination.” Of course this gift gets her into scrapes sometimes, but it also makes her life endlessly amusing and interesting, and others find themselves gravitating towards her, wanting to hear her funny sayings, her stories, and her imaginings.

In what seems like no time at all, Anne is a very much loved member of the Avonlea community. There is no doubt that Marilla thinks the world of her, though she would never admit as such. Anne is a little bundle of sunny energy who gets many of the people around her thinking and doing things that are quite out of the ordinary.

Though this book was originally written at the turn of the century, and though the writing style and some of the ideas and sentiments expressed in the book are somewhat old-fashioned, there is no doubt that the irrepressible little redhead who decries “woe,” and similar dramatic phrases, is timeless in her appeal. Anne Shirley is funny, loveable, and at times she sets her world on its head with her antics. What she also does is to give her love and affection freely, and she is generous and well-meaning. The little girl who never had a real family and who was starved for love finally, now has a home of her own, and we delight in her good fortune. We also enjoy sharing her various adventures,  seeing her triumphs, and laughing out loud at some of her more outrageous mistakes. With grace and obvious affection, L.M. Montgomery shares her Prince Edward Island world with us, and shows us that good things can still happen to good people.