Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables. There is no other character remotely like her. She is irrepressible, dramatic, talkative, imaginative, high-spirited, headstrong, passionate, ebullient, lively, impulsive, heedless. She is also sensitive, self-conscious, insecure, loving, generous, well-intentioned.
She first appears, waiting expectantly in a train station, as a skinny, freckled, green-eyed, redhead – a homely child. She enters the lives of Matthew and Marilla, an elderly brother and sister who had sent away for an orphan boy to help with the chores and haplessly ended up with an unlikely girl instead. She is a dreamer, bursting with imagination, exhilarated by the world. Matthew, a quiet shy gentle unpretentious and altogether good man, is quietly delighted by her. Anne recognizes immediately that though they could not be outwardly more different, they are really kindred spirits. Marilla is slower to warm. But over the course of five years, she responds to Anne’s hunger for love and eagerness to please, and comes to value Anne’s fundamental goodness and creative spirit. Anne is transformed by the undemonstrative love of Matthew and Marilla and their lives, in turn, are transformed by their act of selflessness.
Lucy Maud Montgomery came from Prince Edward Island and her love of place is evidenced in the Anne books. She had an emotionally charged communion with nature that she bestows upon her fictional creation. Anne does not simply appreciate the natural world, she is intoxicated by it. The plot points are set pieces (Anne inadvertently dies her hair green instead of black, she unintentionally serves her bosom friend currant wine instead of raspberry cordial), but the descriptions of the Avonlea farmstead in the twilight, the apple tree allee in full blossom, the woodland flowers by the brook, as seen through Anne’s enraptured eyes, are always genuine. The setting is beautifully rendered, by author and character alike.
“Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed.
“Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss – Marilla, how much you miss!”