On Prince Edward Island in the little town of Avonlea, brother and sister Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to adopt a young boy to help out around their farm. Both are getting older and know they’ll need some help to keep the farm going. They send word to a local woman who is going to the orphanage to bring them home an 11-year-old boy. But when Matthew goes to the train station to pick up the boy, he is surprised to find a young girl — Anne Shirley.
Shy and tongue-tied around others, Matthew reluctantly agrees to take Anne home until the mix-up can be sorted out. But on the ride home, Anne charms Matthew with her imagination, vivacity and view of the world. By the time they reach the Cuthbert house at Green Gables, he is convinced he wants Anne to stay with them. His sister, Marilla, is not so sure — but after a few days — she too falls under Anne’s spell and the little orphan girl finds a home in Green Gables.
The book focuses on Anne’s coming of age at Green Gables — her problems with her flaming red hair, her big imagination, her dreaminess and the various escapades and problems caused by all of these aspects of her personality. She finds a “bosom friend” in her neighbor Diana and flourishes at the local school — except for her long-standing rivalry with Gilbert Blythe (who dared to call her “Carrots” one time.) The book follows Anne until her entry into the Queen’s school and eventual return home to Green Gables.
What can I say? This book was so charming and delightful! I cannot imagine a reader who would not fall in love with Anne — it is no surprise that all of Avonlea falls under her spell! I know this is considered a children’s book, and I wish I had read it when I was Anne’s age — I know I would have just adored her and modeled myself after her!
The writing is just delightful, and Anne’s frequent monologues are just so charming. She is the type of person who is so full of life, zest and (most of all) IMAGINATION that you feel yourself drawn to her — just like Matthew and Marilla. I love that she hates her red hair and freckles, frets about not having puffs on her sleeves, and daydreams while she is supposed to be doing chores. Anne is so relatable and down-to-earth that even a modern day girl could relate to her. After all, what tween girl doesn’t fret about the physical attributes that make them different, wish for clothes of the latest fashion and spend inordinate amount of times daydreaming?
The other charm of the book was Anne’s love of nature and her constant ecstasy at the beauty around her. I’ve never been to Prince Edward Island (located in Canada) but the descriptions in the book make it sound like an idyllic and enchanted place. (Of course, Anne could make anything sound amazing and better than life.)
Special Surprise Visit By Anne Herself
Oh Jenners! What lovely things you’ve written about me. I wish that we could be bosom friends forever. Of course, Diana is my dearest bosom friend and I couldn’t possibly have more than one but I am ever so good at being friends and I would love us to be special friends. I was ever so happy about what you wrote about me! Do you remember when you were a young girl about my age and you were always daydreaming and making up names for yourself? For an entire summer, you thought of yourself as the Princess Felicity, which is just a wonderful and charming name to be sure. You pretended that you were a secret princess and no one knew your true lineage. It was just so dreadful that you had to do chores around the house that were beneath your royal heritage. Didn’t your mother realize that a princess lived under her roof? I think that all terrible circumstances can be overcome with a little imagination. It is the people who don’t have imagination that suffer the most I think. Well, I’ve got to be going back to Avonlea … the Lake of Shining Waters is looking delightfully refreshing today and I think I shall go for a short swim. I’ll take the path through Lover’s Lane and Violet Vale to get there. Avonlea in the spring is just divine! Come and visit me often and send your readers too — I would love to be their special friends as well.
My Final Recommendation
Anne of Green Gables definitely deserves its place as a classic of children’s literature. I am so glad I took the time to read it, and I would recommend it unreservedly to a reader looking for a charming and delightful book that hearkens back to a simpler time and space. And if you have a young girl in your life with literary tendencies, I think this would make a wonderful gift! I wish I’d gotten it when I was young!
I saw there are other books in the series. Has anyone ever read them? Are they worth reading? I’d love to hear your thoughts!