Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is the first of six books in the Anne series. The books were written in 1908-1939.
Anne of Green Gables (links to Amazon)
Synopsis: Anne of Green Gables is a classic children’s novel written in 1908. It is about an 11-year-old orphaned girl, Anne Shirley. She gets adopted by two middle-aged siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The Cuthberts were hoping for a boy to help on the farm but got Anne by mistake. This is a coming of age story (11 – 16 years) about Anne who joins the small town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Anne is talkative, imaginative, with a fiery temper, and she would do anything to be rid of her red hair and freckles. Anne gets into a lot of mishaps on the farm, at school, and in Avonlea with her kindred spirit, Diana, and Gilbert the boy whom she will never speak to again!
Parental thoughts on Anne of Green Gables
This is a classic children’s book that is still popular 110 years after it was written. It is fun to read classics as you can experience the culture and ideas from the period. You can always read historical fiction books, but many have the ideas or themes from our current culture that wouldn’t have existed in that period. This is VERY evident if you watched the Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix. That show has ideas and themes prevalent in 2019, but are not present in the book.
The difference in cultures and periods made it an enjoyable read. You can discuss these differences with your child(ren). There were many expected differences such as sex roles being clearly defined, stereotypes about race and nationalities, and the day to day differences from more chores or one room school houses.
Here were the top three differences that surprised me:
Number 1: Marilla is extremely stern in raising Anne. Marilla takes her role in raising Anne to be a young lady very seriously, but this doesn’t include worrying about Anne’s self-esteem. Anne consistently calls herself a “bad girl” and Marilla agrees and sternly tells her the expectations and how she MUST meet them. The most shocking thing to me is Anne never actually does anything with evil intent. She is too much into her imagination and ideas about the world that she has silly mishaps and yet the adults in the book treat them as if they were not innocent mistakes. Parents of my generation are afraid of hurting our children’s feelings or sense of self. We make excuses because they are young and are expected to make immature mistakes. Not parents in 1908! There were harsh and blunt and yet Anne understands that is the role of a guardian and respects them more. I think both parents and children of today can learn from this model.
Number 2: A belief in God is part of everyday life. I really enjoyed this because religion wasn’t portrayed as being good or bad. It was just the reality of life and community. This is so different from our current culture. Today religion in the media is portrayed as one of two extremes. If it is written from a religious bias, people of God are good, holy, any struggle can be solved with faith, and the endings are perfect. If religion is written from a non-religious bias, people of faith are narrow-minded, dull, hypocritical, stupid, etc. Today’s culture displays religion with a clear distinction, either it is a good thing, or it is a bad thing. Not in this book. Religion was part of everyday life, which included both good and bad, since all people bring both to this world.
Number 3: The unique love between two young friends and how that was expressed in the way they talked or touched each other. Anne and Diana are “kindred spirits,” and their expression of love is not any way young girls would express their feelings today. Our current culture is inundated with sex where any expression of love or touch has a sexual undertone. Today if two girls talked or touched the way Anne and Diana did they probably would be told to question their sexuality. This is really unfortunate because it is not true. We were created to be loved and to love and living in a physical world means touching is essential. We lost something in friendship when touch can only have a sexual meaning. My daughters would never talk or touch their friends in any similar way to Anne and Diana. To them, it would be uncomfortable, awkward, and just plain wrong. We need expressions of love between friends. Even Jesus had this kind of friendship. At the Last Supper for example in John 14:23-25,
“One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out who he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, ‘Master, who is it?”
Here is an expression of love and touch between two grown men who are friends at a holiday meal. This type of intimacy between friends doesn’t happen today. We have lost something in our culture. This is sad.
It was nice to read a book about two little girls growing up in an innocent world.
You can purchase the boxset from Amazon. The boxset also includes two additional books in the Anne series that focus on Anne’s children.
Anne of Green Gables, Complete 8-Book Box Set