I resolved to read something I had not read before for This Old Thing, and Goodreads gave me a list of recommended books that are over 100 years old. I picked The Scarlet Pimpernel, because it is famous and important and written by a woman. It turns out that I do not have the reading fortitude I had in university, and I just couldn’t get into it. Despite having promised myself to not do re-reads for CBR10 Bingo, I felt like reading something warm and loved and reliable. So, here we are with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908 by Canadian Lucy Maud Montgomery, an author who began her writing career in earnest after marrying a minister.
Anne Shirley is an orphan, accidentally taken in by the Cuthberts who were actually hoping for a boy to help out with the farm. They instead end up with the most imaginative, spirited and bright little girl that might ever have been written. Everyone knows this story, but for me, it never gets boring. I loved this as a girl – sharing Anne’s love of reading and daydreams, her worry over her goodness and value in the world, her delight in seemingly small things. I love this as an adult as well, but with a deeper understanding of the motivations of the adults. As a girl I envied the deep and uncomplicated love that Matthew had for Anne, but as an adult and a mother I identify much more with Marilla and her deep love that is expressed through worry and strictness.
The Anne series was not originally written to be a children’s series, but was relegated to that category, much to Montgomery’s dismay. I think it functions well as both a children’s book, showing how hard it is to grow up, especially when you don’t really fit in for whatever reason. It also does a excellent job of illustrating both the challenges and the advantages of growing up in a small town. It’s warm and filled with love and wonder and ambition, and it never talks down to the reader. I was so happy to read this again and hope to share it with my daughter as well.
PS: Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie and Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth were perfection in those roles and I will have a crush on Crombie until the day I die.
PPS: Montgomery was a very interesting person who had quite a difficult life. I highly recommend reading both her selected journals (edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston) and a biography called The Gift of Wings by Mary Rubio. They are both very surprising and illuminating, a good history lesson about the role of women in the world and the publishing industry.
CBR10 Bingo Category: This Old Thing