Welcome to my June review of Anne of Avonlea as part of the #AnneReadAlong2017!
I am having so much fun co-hosting this event with Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku. We’d love to have you join us for any part of the read along. We are writing reviews, posting Top 5 Lists, hosting giveaways, and more! Check out my info page here.
After reading Anne of Green Gables, I was anxious to get more of Anne’s story. And Anne of Avonlea did not disappoint. I love that we get a host of new kindred spirit characters and more experiences with the beloved characters of the first novel. There is just something about these books that draws me in and makes me feel like I am one of Anne’s friends having adventures with her in Avonlea. If I’m not careful, I might read nothing but Anne until I finish the whole series 🙂
- I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. I want to go to Prince Edward Island so badly! With another novel describing it’s beauties and views, I’m dying to experience it for myself.
- Wow, people grew up a lot faster in this time period than we do today! It took me a little time to realize that Anne is only 16 at the start of this novel and already a school teacher. She seems to have matured so much and yet still has her fantastic imagination.
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery continues the story of Anne Shirley, now a young woman who loves her home at Green Gables. Goodreads relates, “At sixteen, Anne is grown up…almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else’s romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.”
I love all the new characters we meet in this novel. Some are as flat as can be but others give us much more “scope for the imagination.” Let’s be honest, characters like little Dora Keith just annoy me. How can any child be that well behaved and that unemotional? But then we have her brother Davy who I think is hilariously frustrating with his own set of antics and constant demands of “I want to know.” I fell in love with darling little Paul Irving as much as Anne did. In many ways, he seems to be Anne’s twin in his wide imagination and beautiful way of looking at the world. I love quirky Miss Lavender and her idyllic home in the woods with the echoes. All Anne’s visits there and the eventual reunion Miss Lavender has with her past are just lovely. And I even loved awkward and sometimes ridiculous Mr. Harrison with his swearing parrot and almost-bachelorhood. He made me laugh.
Some of the characters we met in the first novel are less dynamic in this novel, which disappointed me. Diana Berry is rather flat for me in this novel. She seems to have no ambitions beyond marrying someone at some point. While I do love that her romantic ideals of childhood give way to “the boy next door,” I wanted her to be more like Anne. I felt sad that her imagination was basically gone and that she didn’t really seem to do anything with her life. I loved the interactions Anne has with Mrs. Allen–the minister’s wife–in the first book. But she also seems much more on the periphery of this story. Perhaps there just wasn’t time to develop her character further. But after being such an influence in Anne’s life in book one, I would have liked to see more of her in this novel. Also, we did not have enough of Miss Berry in this novel. All we hear about her is through letters and that is just not enough of that feisty old maid 🙂
Marilla continues to impress me as such a dynamic character who continues to grow and progress in this story. She agrees to take in the Kieth twins after their mother dies and finds herself loving them just as she does Anne. I also love that she continually supports Anne in her ambitions and wants Anne to better herself by going to college–a rather forward thinking idea at this time. But she keeps her calm and sensible disposition throughout all the changes and catastrophes in Avonlea. Some of my favorite parts of the narrative are the asides that Montgomery makes about how Marilla feels more deeply than she lets on.
Anne continues to be one of my favorite characters in literature. I love that she still gets into scraps as ridiculous as in the first book (falling through a roof and dying her nose are two of my favorites!). I love that she has such high ideals as a teacher and that many of those come crashing down as she experiences the daily grind of teaching. I love that she holds only her childhood and the childhood names of places around her home. And I love to see her caring so deeply about others. She seems to be able to befriend the unfriendly, the lonely, and the misunderstood alike–finding kindred spirits in every kind of person. I really relate to Anne and her love of her home as well as her desire to go to college and learn more about the world.
A few favorite Anne quotes:
” I don’t like places or people either that haven’t any faults. I think a truly perfect person would be very uninteresting. “
“I like to fancy souls as being made of light. And some are all shot through with rosy stains and quivers…and some have a soft glitter like moonlight on the sea …and some are pale and transparent like most at dawn.”
“…Living so that you beautify your name, even if it wasn’t beautiful to begin with…making it stand in people’s thoughts for something so lovely and pleasant that they never think of it by itself.”
Anne of Avonlea, pages 24, 112, & 193
I love Montgomery’s comfortable and engaging writing style. What makes these books so timeless is the way Montgomery writes. Her writing is fairly simple and straightforward. But it also grabs readers right away and makes it difficult to close the books. Every time I open any of the Anne books, I am instantly transported into the world of Avonlea and the lives of these great characters. I find myself so engaged that I forget about time and responsibilities in my actual life–until my toddler reminds me 🙂
A few favorite examples of her lovely writing:
“Anne was a sweet-souled lass, but she could instill some venom into innocent italics when occasion required.”
“She looks just as music sounds.”
“Two years is about long enough for things to stay exactly the same. If they stayed put any longer the might grow mossy.”
Anne of Avonlea, pages 68, 189, 271
Okay, again I just need to say a few things about Gilbert. Can we admit that we all know where their relationship will lead? But I sure enjoy the journey. I love the way his relationship with Anne changes in this novel. They are so alike in their big dreams and desires to improve the world around them. Their plans and blunders with A. V. I. S. are a lot of fun to read about. And I love reading about Gilbert’s attempts to talk seriously with Anne and his budding romantic feelings for me. Anne frustrated me to no end with her stubborn desires to keep everything the same and not to see Gilbert as anything but a “good chum.” (I have started Anne of the Island and have to chuckle at her jealous reactions to any girl talking about Gilbert.)
Perhaps my favorite quote of the series so far:
“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages, betrayed the rhythm and the music; Perhaps… Perhaps… Love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden hearted rose slipped from its green sheath.”
Anne of Avonlea, page 277
I feel like I use the phrase “I love” a lot in this post. I guess I was impressed by this novel just as I am by the first. For me, the first novel is almost in a class of its own–separate from the rest of the series. This distinction helps me to enjoy the books despite their differences and not hold the later books in the series to my high standard for the original. Thoroughly enjoyed this one!
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See you in July for Anne of the Island!