College was one of my favorite periods of life, so naturally it makes sense that I would enjoy Anne’s college story, as well. We find ourselves outside Avonlea but with interesting new surroundings and chums, so there’s a familiarity with this stage in Anne’s life.
Anne has left Avonlea and even Prince Edward Island to go to Redmond College in Nova Scotia. She overcomes her homesickness and finds studies and purpose in life. She makes delightful new friends, including the indecisive but sweet Philippa Gordon. And she discovers herself as an individual and a potential love interest.
|At the heart of this exquisite episode into Anne’s life is a love story, but it’s not merely of romance. Anne falls in love with college and the pursuit of intellect, and that’s what makes it one of my favorite books in the series. She finds her college friends, and they form an intimate circle. She starts to write, though this gets downplayed as the book continues–which is odd, since this is one of her dearest wishes. And, yes, she learns what it means to be in love, not just in the fairy stories, but for real.|
Let’s get spoilery, though. Proceed only if you want to be spoiled.
In the past, I’ve given Anne a hard time about refusing Gilbert the first time, but rereading it since I’ve been married has given me a little perspective. I have the feeling that if Gilbert had been alive 100 years later, that proposal would not have taken place, because the pressure to marry would have been less existent and he would have seen how very friend-driven Anne was. I think he fell into the trap of social conditioning—that is, when you get to a certain age, you marry, especially if you *think* the other person is giving you the “signs.” Anne, as it was, was not ready to marry *anyone* at that time in her life, and I don’t think she would have been happy had she accepted Gilbert then. She had to realize of her own accord that she was in love with him, and to his credit, he backed off once she said no and only tried again when given a friend’s encouragement that Anne would possibly be more receptive.
Cross-posted to my blog.