I love Anne. I love how she strives for goodness, embodies true friendship, and endeavors to live by her principles. Although much has changed in Anne’s world she and Marilla have settled into a relationship of easy affection and mutual respect. In this outing we experience a string of events in Anne’s life over the course of two years picking up after she decides to put off college following the death of Matthew.
Like all new teachers Anne has some idealistic and rather unrealistic notions of what she can achieve, but that does not stop her from trying and eventually achieving a great deal. Not to worry though, our Anne continues to find herself in and out of scrapes including accidentally dyeing her nose red. It’s against the backdrop of teaching young minds that Anne seems to come into herself as an adult. By the end of the novel she has taught the three Rs, she has also learned how complicated life can be. Anne’s adventures include forming the Avonlea Village Improvement Society, meddling in her neighbor’s romance, and helping Marilla bring up two orphans at Green Gables.
There’s an undeniable undercurrent in the book about romance. In fact, marriage and married life is one of the strongest elements of the book and the theme of communication in relationships between women and men and the danger of unhappiness caused by unresolved misunderstandings is played out over and over again in the various stories encapsulated in each chapter. The reader glimpses into the stages of relationships from the eyes of Avonlea. Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s husband is ill, and she must deal with his death and what that means for her future. Mr. Harrison’s tale of separating from his wife over a prideful argument and her eventual return to him on Prince Edward Island shows another side of the theme. Miss Lavendar and Mr. Irving finding each other again in their ‘old age‘ and moving beyond the prideful fight that had separated them in their youth. There are also a variety of other couples and old maids in the neighboring environs whom Anne interacts with. As Anne encounters each of these characters she also must deal with her own ideas of her future. As any true friend should Diana attempts to point Anne in the right direction, to which Anne asserts that she will find her ideal or she will happily remain unmarried.
This leads inevitably, to Gilbert Blythe. Ms. Montgomery shows her authorial hand just once, but it’s unmistakable. “Gilbert stretched himself out on the ferns beside the Bubble and looked approvingly at Anne. If Gilbert was asked to describe his ideal woman the description would have answered point for point to Anne, even to those seven tiny freckles whose obnoxious presence still continued to vex her soul.” Gilbert’s time at White Sands is greatly ignored throughout the narrative, but there are hints that there are many in the teenage set that displayed loose morals, to Gilbert’s eyes. He had made up his mind that his actions now must match the future he envisioned with Anne.
To the faults – in my mind the new young children made for the most grating parts of the narrative. While Dora and Davy Keith add life to Green Gables and show Marilla and Anne’s growth it is hard to be enthralled with either of them. Dora is so well-behaved and plain as to be wholly forgettable and it seems Ms. Montgomery felt the same as she is absent from the story quite often. Davy is so mischievous that the reader simply wants him off the page. Davy is, I’m rather sure, meant to show the growth in Anne herself from her own impetuous youth, but instead simply grates on the nerves. Then there is Anne’s favorite student Paul Irving’s grating habits. Paul seems too good to be true, and combines every one of Anne’s more imaginative habits. But I think the part of the writing of this character, and others which grated on my nerves the most was his speech pattern. Montgomery developed for her characters very specific mannerisms and speech patterns and Paul’s is ‘well you know teacher’. He intends it as an inside commiseration of two kindred spirits but I could not help but to read it as whiny pre-teen speech patterns.
However, I love spending time in Anne’s world and would recommend this series to the adult reader who may have missed it in their own growing up years.