Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Anne of Greengables by L. M. Montgomery

Siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide that they can no longer manage their farm alone. The help they hired every year was always unreliable and they wanted something a bit more permanent. Hearing that one of their friends has adopted, they feel that adopting a boy and teaching him how to manage the farm will solve all their problems. Yet somehow there is a mistake and the Cuthbert's are sent 11 year old Anne. A day-dreamer who talks too much she soon manages to upset plenty of people. Yet as time passes Anne grows and learns to tame her wild imagination and her tongue and it is not long before people learn to love Anne of Green Gables.

When I was little my father recommended I should read this. For reasons I don't remember I ignored his advice. Perhaps I felt it was too 'girly' for me and too twee. For years I have avoided things like 'Little House on the Prairie' and any adult chick lit that I've seen in bookshops and libraries. So when the Book Club Forum made Anne of Green Gables their book to read for August I thought I would give it a try.

To begin with I did find the format and the story annoying and not my sort of thing. It was slow, the character of motor-mouth Anne annoyed me endlessly and I started skipping through chunks of her monologues. I also felt the story wasn't going anywhere and held very little in the way of excitement. It wasn't badly written per-se, just of it's time and directed towards children rather than adults. I decided to continue reading it though as it wasn't dire. I'm glad I did because the story does improve about half way through. You begin to realise that Anne's character is annoying on purpose and very well written by Montgomery. You find as the characters develop that Matthew is extremely shy around women (which perhaps explains why he never married) and that despite her fa├žade, Marilla does care about others. I did find it a little disconcerting that so much of the book is dedicated to Anne when she is 11/12 and then you start leaping very suddenly through time until by the end of the book she is 16/17.

I think perhaps in some ways I was too old to read this book and enjoy it fully. I suspect I may have enjoyed it more when I was younger. Having said that perhaps it is a book that requires a certain amount of patience, something I was lacking in my youth! If you're looking for thrills and adventure this isn't the book for you. However if you're looking for a gentle, undemanding book with happy stories mingled with the sad woes of ordinary life in late 19th/early 20th century Canada then this is the right book for you. I was left wanting to know what happens next, as I know Montgomery wrote a sequel. I will be putting that on my reading list but I want to read it some wet and windy weekend in Autumn/Winter when I can curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and read a book to warm the heart. Despite it's slow start I would recommend this to others.

*4 stars*

1 comment:

historicalficlit said...

I have read this book five times since the first time (at age 11) It is one of my all time favorites!
You are right: The novel is episodic ("slow") and Anne is supposed to be a tad annoying. That what makes her funny. But I found myself loving every character, and that is why I love it.