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 read 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.
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:
- 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.
- Our names: Anne (with an ‘e’) and Joanne (also with an ‘e’). I’m just a Jo away from being her.
- 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.
- 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.
- Anne has a vast imagination and is a romantic storyteller. Uh, hello? Me = romantically inclined sappy author. ‘nuff said.
- 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.