Sophia Finucane describes why the children’s story Anne of the Green Gables is her favourite book.
No matter how many books I have read and loved, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery is still my favourite. It is a classic tale of not fitting in, and is heart-warming in the most honest and least self-conscious way. This separates it from the clichés of other stories of this nature.
Anne of Green Gables follows an orphan girl’s journey to the quaint town of Avonlea on the stunning, Prince Edward Island. The island needs no picture to illustrate its beauty, due to Montgomery’s vivid recollections, which is the most descriptive writing I’ve come across.
Anne insists her name be spelt with an E, Montgomery gives her “a crinkly feeling all up and down (her) back” and she is “so glad (she lives) in a world where there are Octobers.” To me, she perfectly encapsulates the nature of an imaginative, slightly lonely child. Anne unabashedly yet unintentionally, thinks about things differently to what the society’s conventions of children expects. Mark Twain called Anne, “the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice.” However, the 1908 New York Times review of the book described Anne as “altogether too queer,” she “knew too much…and greatly marred a story…that had charming and quaint possibilities.”
This quality is what makes the book stand out for me. Anne ‘mars’ the quaint possibilities of early 18th century children’s literature by being very bright and slightly odd; a ‘too-intense’ little girl. We see this as she talks to her reflection, which she calls ‘Katy’ in the mirror, overwhelms the simple character Diana with fondness, and constantly gets herself into trouble for her well-intentioned yet clumsy attempts to do good.
The book encourages higher education in women, as well as sensitivity in men.
I am aware that evocative description is not the most important quality in a novel. However, Anne of Green Gables is an important text to me. The book encourages higher education in women, as well as sensitivity in men. This is exemplified in the character Matthew Cuthbert. These elements, along with subtle comments on the puritan nature of monarchical Canada and on the gentle process of ageing, are often lacking in literature today. Day-to-day issues which strongly affect personal lives are often overlooked if they are “too subtle.” Montgomery provides refuge through these characters for those who, like me, wish to be reminded that others can feel similarly to us in these subtle yet powerful ways.
These feelings are also intertwined with the incredibly comforting and absorbing imagery mentioned above. Together, these create the perfect piece to comfort a frazzled university student or employee who needs an escape to feel sane again. So, while this is a children’s book, I cannot recommend it enough. You may find a much-needed friend in Anne.