Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables – but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts’ affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It’s not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to imagine life without ‘their’ Anne – and for the people of Avonlea to recall what it was like before this wildly creative little girl whirled into town.
A charming, utterly delightful tale that I somehow overlooked in my childhood, but which I’m so glad I finally got around to reading.
The book tells the tale of exuberant orphan Anne, who finds a home with the brother and sister Cuthberts on their farm at Green Gables. The story spans the time between ages 11 and 16, from when Anne arrives as an extremely chatty and strange red-headed child, to when she has matured vastly and has just finished her teaching college examinations.
At some points, Anne’s impulsiveness and imaginative exploits have the potential to get on one’s nerves, but it somehow never does. She’s just so damn earnest. It’s wonderful to see her growing up, and the terrible but funny mishaps that she lands herself in. It’s also great to see all the gruff characters just warming up to her irrepressible spirit.
Considering the time in which the novel was written, I was expecting quite a lot of sexism but was pleasantly surprised by what I found – Anne sees no problem with the idea of female preachers (which outrages some people in the town), the girls are proven to be just as academically excellent as the boys, competing for university scholarships, and some of the activities that are seen by the older generation as wildly inappropriate for young ladies to engage in is completely accepted by these younger ones.
Even the religious aspect was well done – Anne fights back about how religion is ‘supposed’ to be, and finds it in nature and everyday moments, viewing it as something that does not need to be practiced in a specific way – it’s all in the intentions.
Finally, the some of the imagery from Anne’s imagination is utterly glorious in its simplicity, such as:
Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?
Overall, a lovely story of growing up and maturing, without losing that inner spark of magic. Will definitely be reading the sequels