Tuesday, July 14

12x12: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables has been one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book, for as long as I can remember. I don't even remember who introduced me to it, though it must have been a Christmas gift - I have Black Beauty in the same kind of book cover, so they must have come together. I have read and re-read and re-re-read this book and I will continue to read it until I die. The only book more torn up than this one is probably the first Harry Potter book, which book lovers understand is the greatest sign of love and use. When I was in London for a semester, I missed reading this book so badly that I actually went out and bought another copy. That's where I'm at with this book.

What I Loved:
  • What I always love most about this book is Anne. If you've ever read the books or seen the movie/tv show, this shouldn't be surprising. When I go too long without reading this book, I actually miss her like I would miss a real, live human being friend of mine. Anne is such a real character for being imaginary - she's bright and bubbly and spirited, dark and dramatic and emotional. Anne makes mistakes (so many of them!), but works hard and wants so badly to do what's right. She's the kind of person I want to be.
  • This may sound silly, but I've always felt like Anne is that childhood part of me, still inside, who never grew up. If you've read the book and know about Anne's imagination, then you know what I was like as a child. I'm still like that, only I have to act and speak and try to think like a grown-up now. Sometimes it feels like law school sucks the whimsy straight out of me, and part of me worried that I wasn't enjoying this book as much as I should this time around because law school has changed me too much... Then I realized how important it was to me to keep Anne there inside of me, and that I simply wouldn't let her leave. No matter how "adult" I get or how much I need to focus for law or law school. As Matthew says, "Don't give up all your romance, Anne," he whispered shyly, "a little of it is a good thing—not too much, of course—but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it."
  • Something I've noticed the last few times reading this is that our society focuses so much more on makeovers and looks than they did in the early 1900's. It's not like I didn't know that (Also, read The Body Project for more on this), but I guess I had forgotten how little looks seem to be important in Anne of Green Gables. I mean, it's not like it's not mentioned - Anne is so concerned that she's not beautiful, and she's always talking about how pretty Ruby Gillis and Diana are. But what I mean is, when Anne is trying to fix things about herself, she's trying to fix how she acts and behaves - NOT her looks (with one notable exception, which I won't get into here). All the girls seem to focus more on improving themselves through their behavior and virtues than they focus on looking more beautiful. I completely get that this is one of the ways society has changed since 1900, but it makes me a little sad. I love being able to feel beautiful, but I do think it's so much more important to be a better person than to look like a better person. 
  • I love how ambitious and smart Anne is. Once she starts school, she and Gilbert have this "competition" between the two of them that lasts up until teaching college. It actually made me a little sad this time around to remember how smart Anne is, because ((SPOILER)) she basically always gets the highest grades and gets the scholarship to go to a real college. I've always been smart enough, but I've always had smarter friends around me. It usually doesn't bother me, but law school has made me a little more sensitive about my own weaknesses, and it actually made me a little jealous reading about how smart Anne was. Getting the highest grade in the class has never happened to me - and to be fair, I guess it hasn't happened to most people.  I think what's hard for me is that I feel so much like Anne, so this may be the one area I fall short in. At the same time, I was thinking about this a few days ago (because of course I was), and I was reflecting on how much Anne studied and how hard Anne worked. It wasn't like she was just smart and got great grades - it's that she worked her butt off, even in subjects that were really hard for her. At the very least, I can take comfort in that I can follow Anne's example in that department. :)

What I Wasn't Crazy About:

  • It's a perfect book, so nothing.

Would I Recommend This Book?
  • Yes, yes, yes, yes! If you have a soul, yes. If you have a piece (or a chunk, or a boulder) of childhood still within you, yes!

Have you ever read Anne of Green Gables? What do you love most about the first book? What do you love most about Anne?

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