Review of “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery

I never read much as a younger person and missed out on so many great books. Anne of Green Gables is one of these wonderful books, or at least I think it is; since I was busy sobbing through the last 40 pages or so, I couldn’t see the text too clearly.

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, an older brother and sister, arrange to adopt a young orphan boy so they can get some help on their farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Matthew sets out from their house (which they call “Green Gables”) to pick up the boy, only to find that instead, they have been given an eleven-year-old girl. She has thick red braids and a face full of freckles, an unbeatable optimism, and an unstoppable tongue. Neither Matthew nor Marilla could live with themselves if they sent her back, and so they keep her.

The book takes place over five years, and follows Anne and the Cuthberts through their adjustment to one another, Anne’s adjustment to the town and the school, Anne’s eventual maturation, and her growing awareness of boys, or at least of one in particular. During this time, the small family also experiences growing appreciation and love for one another.

Discussion: The plot may not sound too original, and indeed, there are many other similar heartwarming stories that come to mind, from Pollyanna to “The Sound of Music” (“how do you hold a sunbeam in your hand?”). But several features of this book stand out:

One, no one in the book can resist Anne, and you, the reader, will be no exception! Most of the other characters are also endearing, even while representing a surprisingly diverse collection of “types.”

Two, Anne’s adoptive “parents” (although not “partners” in the traditional sense) are also unforgettable. The character of Marilla is so artfully drawn. Marilla is a woman who never wanted to admit to emotion or softness. It took Anne to break through her barriers. And yet it is not a facile process but one that seems right and true to who Marilla is. Matthew is a quiet, shy man who loves Anne from the beginning, with a gentleness and simplicity that keeps Anne warm for the rest of their life together.

Three, there are many scenes in this book that pay tribute to the outdoor beauty of Avonlea. Ordinarily, when an author fills up paragraphs with descriptions of nature, this is something I endure at best, and skim at worst. This book did not cause me to do either. The colorful depictions of the area surrounding Green Gables, as seen through Anne’s eyes, are so enchanting and evocative that I was never once tempted to gloss over these parts to get back to dramatic action. In a way, they were actually a part of the action, certainly for Anne. The beauty she saw in the world outside – her “great capacity for delight” – constantly brought out happiness and optimism in her, and helped her to overcome the darkest of times.

Evaluation: What a great book! So sorry I missed it when I was younger. On the bright side, it has sequels! It has movies! I love sequels! I love movies! I love Anne! Can’t wait!

Rating: 4/5

First published in 1908, and reproduced many times thereafter

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32 Responses to Review of “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery

  1. Nymeth says:

    I only read this for the first time last year and I loved it too! I’m reading the whole serious (up to book 4 now) and they’re all great so far. Anne is an amazing character!

  2. bermudaonion says:

    Oh, lucky you, getting to experience Anne of Green Gables for the first time! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Sandy says:

    I absolutely love the movie, but for some reason missed the book growing up (too busy reading smut I guess!). I think my daughter has it…we should both read it!

  4. JoAnn says:

    This is a book I somehow missed growing up, too. Your post make me think it’s not too late after all…

  5. Barbara says:

    I’ve been to Nova Scotia twice and wanted to see Prince Edward Island both times but ran out of time. I’ve promised myself I will get there one day.

  6. softdrink says:

    This is, hands down, the best series ever! You need to go buy them all right now!!

  7. Ti says:

    I purchased a really nice copy of this from the Tattered Cover in Denver and it sits untouched! Right now I am fully immerses in Stephen King’s new one (a chunkster at 1100+) pages but maybe I can get to Anne next week. It would be a great way to wrap-up the year.

  8. Ti says:

    I can’t type. Too many typos this morning. Please forgive.

  9. Anna says:

    I hope you get to read the rest of the series. I loved seeing Anne as a grown woman and getting to know her children. I haven’t seen any of the movies, but I hope to change that at some point.

  10. Alyce says:

    I’m so glad that you liked this one! I love the Anne series, and hope to re-read it someday soon.

  11. I love your line about sobbing through the last forty pages. A really great book, for me, has my emotions completely involved. I haven’t read Anne either and plan to do that this next year. I’m bookmarking this review so I can come back to it.

  12. Toni Gomez says:

    I have never read this. Those who know me find it shocking. At least once a year someone says.. “Toni, YOU have not read this?” Thanks for your review. I might get it right away…..

  13. This was one of my favorite books as a young reader. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved this book. Yes, and how much I loved Anne.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I know someone has probably already told you this, but you need to see the miniseries starring Megan Follows – it is completely wonderful. I’m so glad you fell in love with Anne!

  15. M Denise C says:

    I have read the 5 main Anne books over and over for years and I never get tired of them! She is my alltime favorite fictional character, that Anne-girl!

  16. Julie P. says:

    I missed out on this one too. I recently read Book 2 of The Mother Daughter Book Club Series and the girls and their moms read Anne of Green Gables. Ever since then Booking Daughter and I have both been wanting to read this one!

    Don’t forget to add your Mr. Linky here:

  17. Lisa says:

    I have never read this book and figured it might be too late to give it a try. Evidently not!

  18. Bookjourney says:

    I bet Shelf Discovery is wonderful! I bought this book for my Secret Santa but I didnt even thumb through it. I should have!

  19. Jenny says:

    I’m glad you liked Anne of Green Gables! L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors, and she’s written oodles of fantastic books (many of them – can I say – even better than the Anne books). 🙂

  20. Aarti says:

    How fun that you’re only reading Anne of Green Gables now! I LOVED that series growing up. My favorite is Anne of the Island (I bet that’s most people’s, though). And I love Rilla of Ingleside, too. So good 🙂

    First movie is good, in my opinion, but I don’t like the other two…

  21. Staci says:

    I absolutely loved this charming book. I think Anne and I would’ve been best friends!!

  22. Jenners says:

    You captured my feelings about this book so perfectly!!! I just can’t imagine anyone NOT loving Anne. It would actually be a litmus test of someone’s personality for me. If you don’t love Anne, you must have something seriously wrong with you inside!

  23. Care says:

    Your enthusiasm is catching. I need to hunt up one of the movies… I read this, too, for the first time this year.

  24. Amy says:

    This was one of my favorite books as a child. I should re-read it and the series again. They’re wonderful. Glad you enjoyed it!

  25. Darlene says:

    Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books. I still have to read the sequels but I’ve got a few of them downloaded on my reader to get to. The movies are great as well. I read Before Green Gables too and it was quite good. The author worked with the family to write it.

  26. Emily says:

    I just read this book for my english class and have made a New Year’s relution to read them all. Good for you for reading it!!!!!

  27. Emily says:

    I mean resolution

  28. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have listened to it on CD and I’ve seen the movies. Adore Anne.

  29. stacybuckeye says:

    I really need to reread this. Thanks for reminding me how wonderful it is!

  30. Rebecca says:

    I liked this book as a child. It is nice to remember the books we used to love!

  31. Corky(new grandma) says:

    I just had a new grandchild-she was named Avanlei Ann after the book-Annne Greene Gables-2nd series! Thank you for reminding my daughter-in-law how awesome the books are!!!!

  32. Pingback: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery | Iris on Books

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