Overview from www.bn.com: As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever…but will the Cuthberts send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected-a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anybody else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special-a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.
Amazingly I had never read this book before. I had watched the movie before and loved it but I had never read the book. Finally I decided to look on the www.bn.com website to see if I could get it for free- you all know about my limited budget- and I found one those Google scanned copies of an old copy. This was just fine with me since I could follow the story for the most part even with the missing or changed words (I think having already seen the movie might have helped in that regard) and the only real downside was that the very last page was entirely missing, so I read it from the library’s copy when I went down there last weekend.
Reading the book made me want to watch the movie again so I placed a hold for the video at the library and finally got it yesterday and watched the whole thing, loving it even more. Back to the book, it was better than even I expected. It was fairly similar to the movie which was nice because I understood why it was so beloved and why it made a great movie. Surprisingly, the book dwelt less on Anne’s past before Green Gables, since Anne herself had been reluctant to discuss it much with Marilla, than the movie did and this made the book seem faster.
First off, although this book has a great plot, the best thing about it is the characters, especially Anne herself. Anne has the most vivid imagination in the world I think which has helped her get through nearly all of her past difficulties in life. The thing about her that springs to my mind right now is how she uses her imagination to describe places that seem ordinary to those around her. When Matthew Cuthbert shows up at the train station to pick up the orphan boy that he and his sister Marilla plan to take in, he is astonished to find Anne there at the train station waiting for him. Not wanting to leave the child alone he takes her home but is slightly nervous because he is incredibly shy around women.
It seems though that the reticent Matthew and the talkative Anne (“spelled with an e”) are made for each other. Matthew is smitten almost immediately and lets Anne talk as much as she wants. I think he is secretly relieved not to have to keep up his end of the conversation. As an older gentleman, he must have a hard time changing his ways. Anne is also relieved and defends her talkativeness.
“‘Oh, I’m so glad. I know you and I are going to get along together fine. It’s such a relief to talk when one wants and not be told that children should be seen and not heard. I’ve had that said to me a million times if I have once. ANd people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?'” p.17
I feel that I can also relate a lot to Anne because even today I often find, as she explains later, that people laugh at me when I intend to be serious and that has been the case since I was about her age. I also talk a lot at times though I admit that at her age I was shy like Matthew so I guess I can actually relate to both of them.
Things are not all well in Matthew and Anne’s world however, once Matthew brings Anne to Green Gables, after Anne renames much of Avonlea (the town where the Cuthberts live), and Marilla sees Anne. She upset about the mistake of getting a girl when she and Matthew asked for a boy. She agrees to keep Anne for the night and plans to send her back to the orphanage the following day. When that day comes however, Marilla chickens out when she finds that if she gives up Anne it will not be to the orphanage but to a horrible woman named Mrs. Blewett who merely wants her for a glorified nanny, a position Anne had experienced before and wants no part of, to her many children.
Reluctantly, Marilla takes her back for even beneath her tough exterior, she has a heart and declares that “‘I wouldn’t give a dog I liked to that Blewett woman.'” p.39
As the story progress, Marilla rules Anne- or tries to anyway- but finds herself often succumbing to Anne’s charm as much as Matthew does, though she does her best not to show it. Privately, she laughs at many of the rude and inappropriate things that Anne says even when they embarrass Marilla. She agrees with Anne’s opinion of her “friend” Mrs. Lynde and is justly upset with Mrs. Berry, the mother of Anne’s friend, Diana, when she blames Anne for a mistake that Marilla tries to explain was her own.
Of course, Anne does make plenty of genuine mistakes of her own which make Marilla angry. Underneath it all she loves the little girl, though she admits she’s not very good at showing it. As time passes, most of those in the community that once hated or disapproved of her grow to love her or at least appreciate her. She proves herself mostly through her academic prowess and by saving the life of Diana’s sister one winter. Through her struggle to beat fellow student Gilbert Blythe, she becomes one of the top students on Prince Edward Island, as good as or better than Gilbert in nearly every subject. She has become, as even the skeptical Mrs. Lynde admits, “‘a credit to your friends, Anne, that’s what, and we’re all proud of you.'” p. 196
Although things do not all end well for Anne, she does the best she can with what she has. She has suffered some major setbacks, but being determined, we get the sense that she will do alright for herself and those she loves. She might even find a little romance. To find out what happens though, I guess I will have to read the next book.