Deb Joanne (with an ‘e’) talks about her favourite character*.

In case you missed my first post here, where I introduced myself, let me reiterate: I am Canadian. What that means, is that at one point or another, myself and every female I know has Anne of Green Gables - from the 1985 CBC Movieread Anne of Green Gables (and some of the males have, too– I had an interesting conversation with my office’s Shred-It guy last week about how he read it in high school).  And since the book recently had its 100th anniversary since first being published, I think it’s fair to say we haven’t just read Anne of Green Gables, we’ve LOVED Anne of Green Gables.  Anne Shirley is, of course by far, my favourite character of the book AND probably my favourite character of all books, but I’ll get to her in a minute.  This book is (as are the subsequent books in the series) filled with wonderful characters that you can’t help but love—from the strict, but loving in her own way, Marilla, to the shy and sweet Matthew, to loyal, if unimaginative Diana, to the swoon-worthy Gilbert Blythe.

*nostalgic sigh*

Each character is so well-rounded and unique, but I think the universal appeal of these books is that everyone knows a Marilla and a Matthew and has a friend like Diana, and if they’re lucky, a teasing, but big-hearted beau, like Gilbert Blythe.

But back to Anne (always spelled with an ‘e’, please) – she’s a plucky and precocious girl who comes to Green Gables at the age of eleven and  enriches the lives of those who never knew their lives needed enriching, until she showed up in her wincey dress, complete  with red braids and tattered carpet bag.  But I think my reasons for loving Anne go a little bit deeper than the average reader’s.  It becomes clear when you compare us, Joanne to Anne:

  1. We’re both Canadian.  Although Prince Edward Island was Anne’s home, and I’m in Ontario, (and have yet to visit P.E.I.) I felt we had a special patriotic bond. This book never pretends to be anything but a book about Canadian people in their Canadian setting.  I like that. Apparently other people, like Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge do, too.
  2. Our names: Anne (with an ‘e’) and Joanne (also with an ‘e’).  I’m just a Jo away from being her.
  3. Red hair.  Anne is never happy with her red hair and maybe it was a sign of the times back then, but red hair seemed to be undesirable. I got that: I didn’t like my red hair as a kid because it made me stand out. As an adult, I like my red hair because it makes me stand out.
  4. Anne is an orphan.  I was adopted as well (though as an infant).   So although I don’t quite get where she was coming from, as far as feeling unwanted by the families she lived with before she came to Green Gables, (because I ALWAYS felt wanted and was often told so growing up) I felt that we were kindred spirits in that regard.  Anne was so desperate to have a home and a family and friend and just belong.  Well, who isn’t desperate for that at one time or another? And in the end (and truly, throughout the book), Matthew and Marilla love her and cherish her as much as if she were their own flesh; it doesn’t matter how secure I was as an adopted child—it was still good to hear from a third party that this could be true.
  5. Anne has a vast imagination and is a romantic storyteller. Uh, hello? Me = romantically inclined sappy author. ‘nuff said.
  6. Anne is stubborn to the core.  When Gilbert Blythe teases her, calling her “carrots”,  which Anne believes to be the worst insult imaginable, she responds by removing him (so she thinks – she’s kidding herself, which is very obvious to the reader) from her consciousness.  Even when Gil tries several times to make amends and even saves her from the pond, Anne will have no part of it. Now, I’m stubborn and determined and I totally get why Anne was upset in the first place, and as a child, I’m sure I totally sided with Anne and her indignance (although as an adult, I see easily how her stubbornness could have been her downfall).

I could go on and on, especially since, in preparation for this post, I reread Anne of Green Gables and renewed my love for the book. I saw it in a new light after reading it for the first time as an adult (the humour is totally different when looking through the eyes of a grownup – I read the part about Anne’s story club today and it had me laughing out loud until tears came).  But I think I’d rather leave it to you to discover, because if you haven’t read Anne yet and laughed and cried along with her and her adopted friends and family, hopefully I’ve inspired you to go get a copy.


Seriously – go!


*in honour of Anne’s Canadian heritage (and my own), I’ve used all Canadian spellings in today’s post, eh.

50 Replies to “Deb Joanne (with an ‘e’) talks about her favourite character*.”

  1. I’m chugging a Molson whilst (Brit not Canadian?) I read this post in your honor. I also adore Anne. The books are dear friends. The PBS TV series from many years ago was so well done. There’s even an Anne cartoon that is rather charming. Deb Elise might know who works on it.

    Do dooo dooo dooo do do do do!

    1. Kim, thanks for sharing the Anne love. The movie that CBC (kind of like the Canadian PBS) put out back in the 80s was awesome. The picture above was from that movie and gives me total nostalgia warm-fuzzies.

  2. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read the Anne books. I never even saw the PBS series. *hangs head in shame* Is it too late for me? Could I still enjoy them at this late date? Or has my window of opportunity slammed shut?

    1. Oh yes! There’s always a chance to get to know Anne and her timeless stories. Today Anne would be put on an ADHD drugs and half written off as behavioral loss. In her day, she was allowed to make mistakes, grow and learn. Her personality served her very well.

      1. LOL! (Though laughing a little ruefully.) You’re right that we’re too ready to drug high-energy children these days just to make them fit in with our behavioral expectations. Sad, that.

  3. I also must admit I haven’t read Anne of Green Gables. Though Anne Shirley comes up a lot on my blog, as the literary character one would most like as their BFF. I love picking up YA/children’s books these days, so I’ll defnitely add it to the pile. I think the characters from these books are always the ones that stick with us–not sure if that’s because we read them when we were young and impressionable, or if YA characters are just more fun. Or both!

    1. Rachel, I’m not sure what it is about YA characters, but I think Anne is so perfectly imperfect and that in itself holds great appeal. Do report back when you read it – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  4. Oh, Joanne–I am so glad you got Mondays because Anne with an e was absolutely my near top BUT I could not have done her such justice as you did. I LOVED the comparisons (You and Anne would not just be kindred spirits but bosom friends, for sure!) and I adore Anne too. I will quickly admit I watched the series before reading the book–though “watched” isn’t really the right verb, more like “lived” the series and still own the DVDs and would watch them daily if not for, well, life…but she is without question a huge influence on me and my own characters.

    I can’t wait to read them with my girls and share in the joy all over again!

  5. I finally read the Anne books as an adult – for some reason I was never exposed to them as a child, though my sisters both loved them. Sadly, I didn’t love them the way other folks do, though maybe that was an age thing. I would still love to go to PEI, though!

    FotD Erin Blakemore’s The Heroine’s Bookshelf has a great chapter on Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne that even I found interesting, though.

      1. Oh, don’t be sad! Plenty of folks love her enough for me not to. 🙂

        But it is like that, isn’t it, that sometimes it matters much when you read the book as what is in the book?

  6. Anne of Green Gables has been and always will be one of my (if not the) favourite books of all time. I remember when I first read it and I so longed to be Anne (although I should probably warn against asking a new female friend if they want to be your ‘bosom friend’) and even dressed as her for World Book Day at primary school – where I was thoroughly disappointed that not a single person knew who I was meant to be (that was the day I lost all faith in my teachers). I do believe she is also the reason that I have always wanted red hair and am liable to fall for anyone sporting it.

    1. Ha, Tamara! I’m not sure I would ever call anyone my bosom friend, either. But I’m still kind of amazed at how much of the language is still relevant, even this many years later.

  7. I didn’t read the Anne books until I was an adult. Must be the one Canadian girl who missed them as a kid. But when I discovered them I was totally blown away by how good they are and what I’d missed.
    Thanks so much for this post!

  8. Confession: I’ve never read the books! But I loved — LOVED — the Wonderworks series, though I preferred Anne of Avonlea. I used to watch AoA whenever I was sad, to the point that my mother would come home, find me watching Anne of Avonlea, and immediately ask me what was wrong.

    Though of course I have an undying love for Gilbert Blythe, I must confess that I also have a major crush on Captain Morgan Harris.

      1. How can you not have seen Anne of Avonlea?? It’s the big payoff! She grows up to be a beautiful writer and wears pretty dresses and teaches rotten teenagers! SO GOOD!

        I would skip “The Continuing Story” though… not so good.

        1. Oh, ditto on the Continuing Story. NOT good, shamefully not good. But Anne of Avonlea!! Morgan Harris, swoon, check. Gilbert, swoon, check. Joanne, prepare thyself. It’s that good.

          1. I think my favorite moment in the entire (film) series is when Anne kicks Morgan Harris in the leg, and then he’s like “I wanted to ask you (spoiler spoiler)” and it’s SNOWING and she’s wearing a beautiful DRESS and it’s SO ROMANTIC!

            and then I melted into a pool of girliness.

            And Erika, when you first held a copy of your book in your hand, did it not cross your mind that you should take it to Gilbert & show him that you wrote it for him?

          2. Molly, have I told you lately that I adore you? How, HOW, did you know???

            But for my money, as much as I love the last scene in The Way We Were when Babs brushes Bob’s hair off his forehead, the real face-brush scene of all scenes is the last one in the first Anne series when Gil brushes her cheek and says he’s more worried he might just break a tablet over her head, Carrots.

            Seriously, we have to stop. I’m goo. I’m just all goo right now and goo can’t type.

            Joanne, this is all your doing! I can safely say NO ONE will be goo-ing out over my fav. character pick 😉

      1. She’s a pretty mature 7 — we just finished the entire Harry Potter series. She’s also (shocker) very aware of authors. As more and more characters she loved dropped dead, she’d scream ala Doofenschmirtz, “CURSE YOU, J.K. ROWLING!!!!”

    1. Doesn’t everyone have them somewhere? I think I still have my original, yellowed paperback down in the basement somewhere. But the good news is that I think the books are public domain now, so you can buy them cheap or get them free online.

  9. Okay even your Mother has read Anne of Green Gables many many many many years ago.

    great writing from a great daughter. We are very proud of you.

    Your loving family

  10. I don’t think I knew we had Anne in common. Have you read LMM’s journals? They’re not easy to find, but you MUST get your hands on them. She kept a journal from 14 until she died (in her sixties, I believe). I’m doing a re-read soon. Care to join me?

  11. Well, I’m doomed to be late commenting every week, but I loved this post, Joanne, and loved those books and read them uncountable times … and have red hair … and wished I was here … ya know.

    I cannot wait to read them to my daughter, and even tried starting them back when she was four, which was a little too early.

    1. Thanks, Danielle! And you are totally a kindred spirit, what with your red hair and being all Canadian as you are. 😉

      I’m sure your daughters will love Anne just as much as we did, maybe even more, thanks to your special flair for reading!

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