Oh my. This book. So, so, so much to love. But let me back up…
I had never read this book before because I saw the movie as a seven- or eight-year-old and hated it. Haha. Girls wearing dresses and desiring the latest in fashion was more than the tomboyish child I was could handle, I guess. But I decided to give the book a chance on two grounds: 1) obviously, I’ve changed a lot in the many years since then, and 2) books generally are so much better than the movies based on them.
I’m so glad I did!
Things I love about this book:
Anne herself. She’s so darn endearing; one can’t help but love her. My primary attraction to her is how overly dramatic she is about everything (which isn’t quite how I thought I’d react to her, as I tend not to like that type of person in real life – but one can handle things much more easily in fictional characters than in one’s actual acquaintances). I love how she exudes excitement with “Ohhhh, Marilla!” before launching into some ebullient narration of something new she’s enthralled with. [Yes, I did just end a sentence with a preposition. Get over it. (Because we get the majority of our language structure from German, which ends sentences with prepositions all the time, this is actually not as grievous an error as many people think. If people would pay more attention to their comma and semicolon use and less to prepositions at the end of sentences, the English-reading world would be a much better place. But I digress.)]
Then, I love the writing style. It’s so entertaining (examples to follow) and reminds me a lot of Louisa May Alcott’s writing style, especially in Little Women (which I also loved, except for the ending… but that’s another story). One style point I found especially clever was how the narration is sometimes slightly out of order. For example, when Anne and Diana go to visit Diana’s Aunt Josephine, the narration tells about Tuesday and Wednesday via Anne relating it to Marilla (which she clearly wouldn’t have done til she returned home, which was on Friday), but then tells about Thursday via the narrator again. Intriguing.
“Anne thought that life really was not worth living without puffed sleeves.”
“‘Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin.’” – Anne
“‘Rachel Lynde would pick faults in the angel Gabriel himself if he lived in Avonlea.’” – Marilla
And, “[Old Mr. Bentley] was a widower when he came, and a widower he remained, despite the fact that gossip regularly married him to this, that, or the other one…”
Irony (which, bear in mind, is the opposite of what is expected or would seem suitable):
“I don’t think Mr. Allen has been a minister long enough for it to have a bad effect on him.'”
“It’s so much more romantic to end a story with a funeral than a wedding.” [Bear in mind an older meaning of the word “romantic” here; i.e., romantic as opposed to realistic mode. But still, to the modern mind, it’s hilarious.]
After Anne’s and Diana’s catastrophic offending of Aunt Josephine, that person decides she adores Anne and wants to spend much more time with her, becoming a “kindred spirit.”
Now, a few more serious things I found to enjoy:
In the latter half of the book, one of Anne’s friends wistfully wishes to be rich. Anne responds, “‘We are rich… Look at that sea, girls – all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds!’”
I’m absolutely with Anne on this one.
When Anne says, “‘I’m good at asking questions, you know…’” and Marilla responds sarcastically because, of course, Anne is always asking questions. But, in all seriousness, asking questions – good questions – is an important skill, both for learning and for relationships.
At the end, I love Anne’s decisions (I won’t spoil them for you), and her conclusion:
Give life your best, and it will give you its best in return.