Saturday, May 5, 2012

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery: Anne-oying or Cordellialy Inviting?

Oh hello book cover of a children's classic
that will terrify the target audience!
Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery

     It may have taken me almost three months to get this up.  But better late than never, right?  Plus, I'm fairly certain I am one of maybe five grown women to have never read Anne of Green Gables anyways, and I don't think too many dudes will be jonesing to know about it - but who knows?   Here, avid readers, all ten of you, is my way belated review of Anne of Green Gables.  I have clearly chosen the creepiest version of a cover I could find for this one; my e-copy left the job of imagining what Anne looked like up to me.  This is not what I pictured.  Is it a Russian version?  Why would a child want to pick this up? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Anne of Green Gables starts disappointingly.  Especially if you are say, an orphan who thinks she’s found a home finally, or some elderly siblings thinking they are adopting a boyslave to take care of the farm.   In a move totally questionable when reviewed using modern standards, or say, common sense, eleven year old Anne has been sent by herself on a train to be left at a rural stop, and picked up by a slightly squirrelly (but eventually loveable) older dude.   Does this seem shady to anyone else?  Because it seems like old timey Dateline, “To Catch A Predator” to me.  On the ride to Green Gables, Anne immediately lets fly her flag o’crazy, to let the good but boring people of Avonlea know the funparade has arrived.  Naturally, despite the initial dismay on Marilla’s part, and the hiding amongst the cows on Matthew’s part to avoid hard conversations after stating his opinion to stay (he could, in a less endearing portrait, be a character in Cold Comfort Farm), Anne stays.  I mean, would we have a book otherwise?

     Anne immediately gets to both winning our hearts with her story of sorrow before arriving at Green Gables, and to inadvertently and charmingly stirring things up.  Anne is our tiny, redheaded, epic daydream that breaks up the monotony of rural, regular life at Green Gables for Marilla and Matthew, and many others, and thusly us.  Who would want to read about going to church picnics or bringing in the cows or serving tea to the minister?  It’s so much more fun with a new, slightly excitable set of eyes to be our guide, get our best friend drunk, or make poor decisions with hair-dye.   

     Anne’s best highjinks are listed in that last sentence.   I mean…drunk people are funny, but getting another little girl drunk, not realizing it, and then sending her home to her Tiger Mother? Well played, Anne.  Having an adolescent moment of wanting to change yourself and dying your hair with the questionable hair-dye?  How is this a perfectly timeless moment (sponsored by Clorox and Koolade these days – go to the hairdresser unless you want bad things to happen to your good hair, you kids).  Runner up for great moment? Anne and Diana jumping on mean old Aunt Barry.  Tie for giving and receiving a heart attack, and for vivid childhood memories of slumber parties. 

     Additional delights include Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s snide commentary (who doesn’t know someone just like that), Anne’s bosom friendship with Diana (bosom, teehee) – is a bosom friendship something that Montgomery made up, or was it a real term? – and the longevity of it, the curious case of Matthew and the puffy sleeves (I love it when he purchases an obscene amount of sugar in a panic-stricken moment while attempting to shop in the women’s department.  Can you imagine sending him to get tampons?  H would just flat out die.), and the back and forth with Gilbert, who I have a total literary crush on.  COME ON ANNE.  HE’S A BABE.   Our protagonist thankfully matures and mellow sover time.  I love that Anne takes a chill pill by the end and gives up on the whole Cordellia thing, and also the whole over-the-top imagination, and gives in to adult decisions.  But not the puffy sleeves.  Never those!  Stay strong (and fashionable), Anne!  She has a good heart, our Anne.  And as odd as Matthew is, I dare you not to cry when he bites it.  Single tear!  As much as Anne annoyed me, I really enjoyed this book.  While I don’t think I’ll read the rest (according to my awesome teenage cousin, things get straight up nutty in the sequels), I am happy to have read this and get what all the fuss was about!   

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