Sometimes the thing with frightens you most is exactly the thing you need most. This lesson is taught by Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Set in Prince Edward Island Canada and published in 1908, this 109-year-old book never fails to delight me. I love the characters, the well-described scenes, and the story itself.
Meet Anne Shirley. She is eleven years old, has red hair and freckles, and no living relatives. Old Matthew met her one day when he went to pick up an orphan boy that he and his spinster sister Marilla were going to adopt to help with their farm. A mistaken communication brought old Matthew this enthusiastic, talkative little girl instead of the helpful boy he expected. Anne managed to charm both Matthew and Marilla so quickly that they agreed to keep her and make her part of their little family.
Being orphaned so early in life, Anne never knew family or experienced love. She lived with families who used her as a free babysitter and maid. In those situations, she learned many things about menial cleaning chores and child care but was never treated as a member of family. She was allowed no play time or fun activities so her vivid imagination was needed to provide her with all her friends, hopes, and dreams.
What an imagination this girl had! She could dream up best friends, haunted forests, stories, plays, and all kinds of adventures. The problem with an imagination this active is that following can lead to trouble. If Anne did anything better than imagine, it was get in trouble.
This novel follows Anne’s life in the small town of Avonlea where she lives on a farm with Marilla and Matthew. She lives next door to another eleven-year-old girl who becomes her best friend as soon as they met. It didn’t take Marilla long to realize the voids in Anne’s education, spiritual as well as intellectual. We follow Anne off to the local school where she learns about writing, reading, relationships, and even geometry.
Many characters in this story, especially Marilla talk about God and matters of the spirit. Anne came to Avonlea with only the dimmest idea of what He was about and no idea how to honor Him. Fortunately for Anne’s spirit, the local church found a young new pastor with a godly wife who wanted to mentor her young Sunday school students.
We get to see this delightful island village through the eyes of this bright young girl. We learn along with Anne how to be a friend, how to keep our imaginations from running away with us, how to use self-control, and many other important lessons. We also learn some sad lessons as well.
I was delighted with the vivid descriptions and colorful characters. The pace of the book seemed to follow the maturity level of the young Anne. Each charming little story led to another until I couldn’t wait to find out what she would fall into next. I hope you will read the book and get to know Anne as well.
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