“Well, well, there’s no need to cry so about it.” “Yes, there IS need!”

So my friends have been startled for years that somehow Anne of Green Gables slipped through my childhood reading. As a child Anne somehow just wasn’t on my radar, and as an adult I think I avoided it expecting a sort of sentimental glurge … but, well, one of the things about acquiring an ereader (Sony Pocket) is that suddenly reading PD works becomes a lot easier, and, well, lnhammer had already downloaded it for his reader, and it was a gap in my reading, and …

… I was surprised at how utterly charmed I was by this book. Seriously. I loved it.

Because somehow this book is not so much sentimentality as spirit, and ultimately, Anne’s spiritedness is never undercut, as it might be in another book, and if she’s a bit of (where “a bit” = “very”) a Mary Sue, I just didn’t care. (I was amused to see that in her own writings, Anne gave her heroines violet eyes. Old, that trope is!)

Even as I was loving Anne, though, the ending had me worried, because I know what endings often tend to do to spirited girls who eventually grow up in fiction.


Because I could tell as soon as whispers of health problems at home came up that 1) either Matthew or Marilla wasn’t making it to the end of the book and 2) Anne was going to give up that scholarship to stay home and, well, be around to be the protagonist of Anne of Avonlea. Well, if she won the scholarship–there was an outside chance Gilbert Blythe would win it too; but I was guessing she would, and that she’d give it up to him.

Because ultimately, girls with ambition have to be slapped down at some point, right?

Only her choosing to stay actually felt like a real choice. Because Anne loved Green Gables and was staying to save that love rather than because her other loves were wrong; and because we’re never told (as I feared, and waited for) that as a girl she somehow never ought have wanted more anyway–no lectures here, spoken or unspoken, about pride or getting above herself and her place in the world. Well, okay, there is a lecture–from (unreliable) Mrs. Lynde, about how girls don’t need that education anyway–and Anne pretty much slaps it down, and makes clear that she will still be learning all those things and still wants to, just not quite in the way she’d planned. And the story never slaps her down for that, either.

And Gilbert Blythe doesn’t get her scholarship when she gives it up (unless that happens later). They’re both going to be struggling and working hard in their own ways–and bonus points for the fact that, when they come together at last (after the main story and not as the whole point of it), there’s a sense of shared intellectual interests, as well.


I feel a little like this book is to its genre what Lord of the Rings was for me to its–a book that, because so many of its successors did the thing it did badly, I avoided reading for a time, because I didn’t really understand that these books did thart thing well.

I’m told Anne of Avonlea is not nearly as good (though later books are better), so I may wait a little while to continue enjoying having read Anne of Green Gables before diving back in.

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