Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

A few months ago I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time, and was utterly charmed. And for the first time as an adult, I decided to pick up the whole series (these days when I read the first book in a children's series, that's usually the only one I read.) And so I have now also read book #2, which I also thoroughly enjoyed!

Anne is 16, out of high school and a certified teacher. At the end of the first book, she has decided to forgo college to come home to help Marilla, her adopted mother, whose eyesight is quickly failing. But this isn't as terrible a prospect as it may seem as most of her schoolmates have also come home, or are teaching at schools near enough by come home on the weekends. And of course, her best friend Diana is there. And naturally, Anne gets into scrapes and has brilliant ideas that only work out with some twists and turns, and also she and Marilla take a pair of orphaned 6-year-old twins, until their remote uncle can take them on. Anne finds teaching to be a fine prospect, she is not having as much difficulty staying out of trouble, and to my surprised, there is barely no mention of Gilbert (although based on the end of the last book I had assumed this book would largely be about them courting. Maybe book 3.) It takes place over two years and at the end, circumstances are arranged so that Anne can go to college after all (which at the turn of the century, seems rather shocking, in a very good way, to me.)

It's amazing how modern Anne seems, and as this book is not exactly a historical novel - when it was written, it was contemporary - Ms. Montgomery certainly didn't write her that way with any anticipation of what the future would bring for women. Although one dated event was pretty shocking to me. Anne, in her modern views, is very opposed to corporal punishment, and she is teased by many people for this. In the end, she lost her temper and did whip one of her students, who then immediately stopped rebelling and was a perfect angel afterwards, proving Anne's silly "modern" notions foolish, and everyone else who knew that whipping was the right thing to do, correct. Yikes.

I can't help but compare these novels to the Little House books, and I must say that I wish they had more of an overarching plot, whereas instead each chapter is kind of its own episode. I also don't like how fast time passes - from one chapter to the next we might go from November to March. But that's a good thing - I want the book to slow down as I want to spend more time with Anne. Luckily, I have 5 more books in which to enjoy her.

While Anne has mellowed a bit, she is still very imaginative, good-natured, impulsive, and well-intentioned. It's nice to see her growing up and maturing, and yet remaining essentially the same. I think if she stopped imagining fairies and knights in shining armor, I would be quite disappointed.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I borrowed this book from a friend.


Caroline Starr Rose said...

So glad you're reading all of the Annes! I'm re-reading LM Montgomery's journals at some point this year. Care to join me?

Julie P. said...

Can you believe that I've never read any of these? I know. Shame on me. I wish I could get my daughter to read them with me.

Alyce said...

I just finished a re-read of this book and started on Anne of the Island (on audio). I haven't read the whole series straight through in many years, so it's quite a treat. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Love, love, love. I just reread this series earlier this year. I hadn't read them since I was a kid. I remember that I loved them, then, but not a whole lot of details. It's amazing how, throughout the series, readers of any age can identify with Anne and her struggles. I'm glad you're enjoying them - rest assured that you have more delights ahead!