Monday, February 6, 2012

Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

Anne of Green Gables
(The Anne of Green Gables series, Book 1)
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Public Domain Books
Fiction, YA General Fiction
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: When the aging Cuthbert siblings, Marilla and Matthew, needed a young helper for their small farm, they figured a boy from a nearby orphan asylum would fit the bill perfectly. A neighbor was adopting a girl from there; it shouldn't be too much trouble for her to pick out a likely lad while she was at it. But Matthew receives a shock when he drives his buggy into town and finds instead a thin, redheaded chatterbox of a girl waiting.
Eleven-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan since before she could recall, grew up in a succession of poor homes before winding up at the asylum in Nova Scotia. With a head full of wild fancies and a tongue full of big words, saddled with a temperament every bit as fiery as her braids, she fills the farm of Green Gables with unaccustomed chaos. Despite their better judgement, the Cuthberts find themselves growing fond of their mischosen waif, even as she worms her way into the very heart of the rural, conservative township of Avonlea.

REVIEW: A staple of most childhood libraries, I figured it was high time I introduced myself to the iconic Anne. She is, indeed, a memorable character, filling page after page with nonstop chatter and childhood antics. Frankly, more than once I wished she'd shut up, or at least leave off the melodramatics. So deeply does she delve into her imaginative ramblings and poetic ponderings that she scarcely seems capable of dealing with the real world, save as an unfortunately uncooperative story. Irritating as her flights of fancy sometimes grew, beneath it lay a wounded soul, ill-used by life, who had consciously transformed herself into a Pollyanna warrior rather than concede defeat. By the end, somehow, she manages to develop a relatively mature outlook on life, but the transformation is far from smooth, and - given her extreme aversion to reality at the outset - pushes the boundaries of believability. The town of Avonlea, situated on Prince Edward Island, is lovingly and lyrically realized by Montgomery, with a familiarity that only a native could manage; the townsfolk of Anne's world, however, tend to be simplified folk, more or less always destined to be friends with the dreamy-eyed redhead. The story meanders like a country brook, in no rush to reach its end, with only a few spurts of bubbles and rapids (aside from those concocted by Anne's dramatically-inclined imagination.) Not the worst book I've read by far, it nonetheless felt too light and nostalgic to truly engage me.

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