From the back of the book:
New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and frivolous new pal Phillipa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises… including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teachers her a painful lesson. But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide if she’s ready for love…
This is one of the more recent rereads of the Anne of Green Gables series that I’ve done – the last time I read this book was in 2006. “Recent.” My goodness, it’s almost 10 years ago now! So of course, I was ready to sit down with this again from the #GreenGablesReadAlong.
Like all of Montgomery’s books, reading this was very much like coming home. There’s something so familiar and comfortable about all of her books – whether I’ve read them countless times before or not. Rereading them is very much like visiting with an old friend.
This book was much more steeped in Christianity than the other two prior books in this series. There were characters having revelations and becoming more devoted to their own faith. There is also the lovely Phil (one of my favourite characters in this book, truly), who was a frivolous young rich girl unable to make up her mind about anything, who ended up marrying a poor minister near the end of the book. I’m sure someone who has read Montgomery’s journals, or has done more research on the author could correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that this book very much reflects changes that had happened in Montgomery’s own life. You see, this book was originally published in 1915. Montgomery married her husband, a Presbyterian minister, in 1911. The only other novels that were published between when Montgomery married her husband and this one were The Story Girl (potentially, depending on when in that year it was published) and The Golden Road. Depending on how long it took Montgomery to write her novels, it isn’t surprising that her writing would have a lot in common with what had been happening to her personally. Of course, this is all simply speculation on my part, and I’m sure I would need to actually delve into Montgomery’s journals if I want to learn more.
I like that had the opportunity to spend more time with Priscilla Grant and Stella Maynard, as well as being introduced (as I previously mentioned) to the adorable Phillipa Gordon. I love that each book we get to meet extremely colourful characters. It’s definitely a testament to Montgomery’s talent that she is able to create SO MANY wonderfully developed characters in each and every book, all the while continuing to develop the main group of characters that we already know and love. Anne herself certainly grew so much in this – I suppose that’s to be expected when one goes away to college and the book takes place over 4 years, no?
I still think Gil is a little boring. Roy Gardner was definitely no better, and Gil is the better suited for Anne (as Roy’s sister said, Anne would be horribly bored married to Roy), but goodness. Gil is BORING. He’s definitely not the type of guy who you could think could be bad if he wanted to, but just chose not to be. Sigh.
Additional things that stood out to me in this rereading:
- I still tear up when we get to Ruby’s death. Even though I know it’s going to happen. Even though I prepare myself for it starting in the first book. It breaks my heart. Every. Single. Time. ANd Ruby isn’t even a character that I particularly love and adore… it’s the fact that she’s still so young and hasn’t really experienced life yet, it’s the fact that (among all of her flaws, most notably her penchant for being an incorrigible flirt) she is still for the most part such an innocent and good girl.
- One of the events referenced in this book is included as a short story in Montgomery’s short story collection Chronicles of Avonlea. Even though it’s not a part of the Green Gables Read Along, I’m absolutely going to be reading this collection (as well as Further Chronicles of Avonlea and The Blythes are Quoted – though I do have to actually get my hands on the latter) after we’re done all of the Anne books.
- I forgot that this book doesn’t actually take place on the Island for the most part – Redmond is located in Kingsport, Nova Scotia.
The Bottom Line
Definitely recommended to anyone who has started the Anne of Green Gables series. Doesn’t work well as a standalone. If you haven’t read the Anne series, you should. Everyone should. Or at least every Canadian should. Do it. NOW.