On finally reading Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

I have loved Anne of Green Gables since I was about 9 years old. My Aunt Jill bought my sister an illustrated copy of the book and read some of it aloud to us when they visited one time. I think that’s when I found out that my cousin, Anne, is named after Anne Shirley. The “e” in her name suddenly became very important.

Years later my sister and I became obsessed with the Canadian mini-series. We had tapped it off of TV – the Disney Channel, I think – and we watched it over and over again. Years later I bought the DVDs (for Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea), and I continued to watch the movies whenever I had the chance. Anne of Green Gables was my comfort movie, until the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice came along.

I loved Anne, with her red hair and temper. I could probably recite that movie to you by heart. For sure, I can quote along with the movie. But I’d still never read the book until last month when we read it for my YA Book Club. I can’t write a traditional review of such a classic work of literature, but here are my thoughts.

Thoughts on Anne of Green Gables

  1. The mini-series is very well done. They captured every important scene from the book. Seriously, I think there were a few differences in minor details, but only 1 or 2 things that were different. It felt like a re-read almost.
  2. Rachel made the dress with puffed sleeves? What?! That kind of blew my mind.
  3. I listened to the new Rachel McAdams audio version on Audible, and she did a good job.
  4. The dialog is hysterical! Anne talks so much. It didn’t come across quite as well in the mini-series, but I can’t believe how much of the book is Anne recounting things to Matthew or Marilla instead of the narrator actually telling the story.
  5. Along that vein though, I don’t know if I would have liked the book if I hadn’t already been in love with the character of Anne. It’s a completely character-driven novel. Sure there are a ton of anecdotal happenings, but there isn’t a ton of overall plot progression (except Anne getting older of course). You know how I feel about character-driven novels.
  6. There are so many quotable lines in this book. I can see why it’s a classic.
  7. I love Marilla! She’s so practical. I always related to Anne when watching the movie because she seems like the main character, but I almost think Marilla is the main character of the book. Or maybe it’s just that I listened to it now through the lens of being a mother. I related to Marilla a lot.
  8. Who is the intended audience of this book? I often hear of people discovering this series when they were young girls, but because Matthew and Marilla play a huge role, and L.M. Montgomery gives us their point of view a lot, is this really a children’s or young adult book? I’m not sure.
  9. I had a hard time rating this book on Goodreads. If I were rating on enjoyment of the book alone, I think I would have gone with 3 stars because I didn’t love all the descriptions or lack of plot. And because it’s a classic, it seems kind of awful to give it anything less than 5 stars. But because of my love of the character of Anne and my desire to rate my feelings on the book, I settled on 4 stars.

Have you ever read a book after knowing the story very well? What was your reaction?

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  1. I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about character driven novels lately (it came up a lot at my last book club meeting recently) and I think I’m starting to realize that I’m the odd man out here. I actually love character driven novels. I read A of GG as a grown up also but I have to say I prefer the books to most of the adaptations I’ve seen – although I have enjoyed all the adaptations. There is a LOT of nature descriptions that I didn’t necessarily need but the internal monologue never bothers me and I love Anne Shirley and the rest of the characters.
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    1. I do love internal monologue. That’s not what bothers me about character driven books. I just need more of a continuous plot. Anne of Green Gables kind of reminded me of your typical chapter book series, i.e. Junie B. Jones, where it’s just one silly story after another without much overall plot development. I like there to be a large plot arch, ya know? Obviously I love the characters, but the books just aren’t for me I guess. I gave up on Anne of Avonlea after a couple hours of listening. I’m horrible, I know. 🙂

  2. I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time last fall and loved it! I didn’t watch the mini-series growing up, but I knew the gist of the story because I was in a play version of it a long time ago. I’m glad I finally read it because the dialogue is sweet (especially anytime Anne remarks something like “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”) and sometimes totally cracks me up. I love Rachel Lynde just because she says the most ridiculous things. Have you watched the new version that came out on PBS last Thanksgiving? Martin Sheen plays Matthew!

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