I’m joining up with Tarissa from In the Bookcase for the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge.
I have the Alcott books on my list of rereads for this year, but we don’t have all of them, and I don’t know when the libraries will start the curbside process.
I know we/I have Little Women, Little Men, and An Old-Fashioned Girl. I’d like to read Eight Cousins and Rose In Bloom. I may buy them if the library doesn’t open.
I’m not going to do all the illustrated books (I think I might do that for a freebie). I’m picking books (mostly series) from when I was strongly reading on my own. I’m going with favorites then that I’d want my kids to read.
I guess my age was maybe 9 to early teens or maybe 9-12 for most of these? (And yeah, that’s childhood for me. I was a kid until maybe 14-15). Lot’s of historical fiction (although not the Historical Diaries or whatever they were called that my sisters and others loved, I think those were a little too realistic for me to handle then based on my memories of my unsuccessful attempts). My introduction to Rosemary Sutcliff came right on the heels of these age.
- The American Girls. Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Molly at first, then later Kit, I was growing out of them a bit when Kaya arrived (and she’s the last of the quality ones in my opinion).
- The Little House books and the Caroline books (and the Charlotte ones I read when I was a bit older).
- Boxcar children (we were all obsessed with these).
- The Borrowers (The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft, and The Borrowers Avenged) by Mary Norton.
- Grandma’s Attic series and Grandma’s Attic Novels (In Grandma’s Attic; More Stories from Grandma’s Attic; Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic; Treasures from Grandma; Sixteen and Away from Home; Eighteen and on Her Own; Nineteen and Wedding Bells Ahead; At Home in North Branch; New Faces, New Friends) by Arleta Richardson. Our friends read these allowed while we sewed or whatever (I think I was bit older maybe preteens to early teens?).
- Narnia. My dad read these aloud to us twice.
- Sarah’s Journey Series (Home on Stoney Creek, Stranger in Williamsburg, Reunion in Kentucky, Whispers in Williamsburg, Shadows on Stoney Creek) by Wandra Luttrell (so, apparently these are middle-grade Christian fiction but I remember these being good, granted they were favorites).
- Annie Henry: Adventures in the American Revolution (Annie Henry and the Secret Mission, Annie Henry and the Birth of Liberty, Annie Henry and the Mysterious Stranger, Annie Henry and the Redcoats) by Susan Olasky
- Calico Bush by Rachel Field (Hitty is waaay more famous but this was the first one we read, and I’m not sure if I read Hitty at all, if so it was recently).
- Bobbsey twins (to round out the list, these were books I read at my grandparents). For some reason, I never got into the Nancy Drew books or the Hardy boys. I did look at Trixie Beldon, I think those are probably more interesting. I wish I’d read all these when I was younger, some books you can love only if you start young.
Continuing on from earlier this year in children’s lighter classics that I didn’t read as a child.
Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager. I read Half-Magic ages ago but forgot everything about it. This is fun, I’m reading more of the series, but it’s not the most thrilling middle-grade lit for adults.
All-of-a-Kind Family, All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown, More All-of-a-Kind Family, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor. These are okay, not the most interesting in tone and description, rather didactic, definitely a lower reading level than middle grade. I ended up DNF-ing the last book, a juvenile tone and writing style doesn’t work with adult life.
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. This is far closer to the sweet spot for excellent children’s literature, and I think I want to get more of these for vacation reading.
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. This is below middle-grade, definitely want future kids to read or to read aloud with them but just not inspiring enough/high enough grade level for an adult although I’d still like to try Ramona Quimby because I’ve heard those are more popular.
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I saw a gorgeously illustrated set of this series on a British Instagrammer’s page, it turns out they are American but for some reason I got the impression that they were less popular here, the reprint has a note from a British lady. I guess I thought that was odd, it feels like its usually the other way around usually? Also this kinda has that classic American North moralizing (the Northern authors moralize; the Southern authors write about crazy, and I mean CRAZY, people; and the Midwest authors manage to make everything banal, despairing, and demoralizing in my little, ironically, exposure to the grown-up American Classic scene) without the charm of better authors (think Alcott). At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to read more, but those covers! Maybe the others are better?
The Changeling, The Truce Of The Games, Shifting Sands by Rosemary Sutcliff. And now for the taste of genius. I’ve exhausted most of the best novels of Sutcliff and had been getting some of her less inspiring reads. But these short stories that are part of an older children’s collection, are the true Sutcliff storytelling magic. I think that she wrote more of these (they are published by or part of Antelope books and feature woodcut illustrations, I believe), but I’ve had to get them a few at a time through interlibrary loans.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This, thanks to my more capable reading abilities plus age, is much shorter than my memory of it. Also, Puritan stereotypes are still annoying as heck. This is sheer historical ignorance, for example black was a GOOD color, a wealthy color for Puritans. Per David Hackett Fisher in my beloved Albion’s Seed Puritans were far more egalitarian (second to the Quakers who were the most) in gender roles and economics than the two Southern cultures (he divides early developing U.S. into four basic cultures coming from four in England) which would’ve have been more similar to Kit’s, I’d imagine, and she’s just used to being on the top too. So, a lot of this story is just nonsense. A lot of this just feels like modern projecting based on some dramatic events without any understanding of the overall times. Nat’s still awesome though.
My Escapist Reads
False Colours, Arabella by Georgette Heyer. These were both 3 stars for me, the first featured identical twins as hero and side character, one normal, one a rake. The second featured a girl with a brain . . . and a rake for a hero. Well you, know, that’s her favorite “hero.” I decided to take a break to keep any other Heyers in reserve.
So then, I started on Mary Stewart and MM Kaye and found another therapeutic reads, of course I’ve mostly exhausted Kaye as she didn’t write very many.
Death in Cyprus by MM Kaye and The Moon-Spinners and This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart which I read in that order and fairly close together (followed up by Death in Zanzibar), and I kind of started blending the author’s styles a bit, they are both British, suspense for the former, mystery for the latter; have a lot of similarity in the hero-types; and hilariously, were each set on an Island in the the eastern Mediterrean starting with a “c”: Cyprus (no, really?), Crete, and Corfu, respectively. I greatly enjoyed all three. I’m so glad I started both authors like this and read these books in this order, it just fit so well, and I highly recommended anyone new to these authors to do this.
The Ivy Tree (My least favorite Stewart, I preferred the villain, I kept hoping against hope he wasn’t the villain, I hate the inclusion of infidelity, that was the love story, also, just not a great love story, period, rather sickening.)
Wildfire at Midnight (Not super crazy about this one, also has a bit freaky stuff, again, cheaters. And the women are just supposed to ignore and forgive the not-truly-repentant cheaters to “keep” them. NO.)
Nine Coaches Waiting (I think my expectations were too high as I adore the first two I read, and this is the most famous and didn’t match those first two in tone for me.)
My Brother Michael (I really enjoyed parts, but kind of felt choppy in quality, also, be careful with this one, I feel like trigger warnings are needed, there is a psychopath here and some sexual stuff, one part is pretty awful, not rape although I thought for a bit it was implied in different episode which without the first I wouldn’t have thought at all, but then Simon and Camilla were too calm in their response, but it doesn’t stretch to the imagination that the villain would; anyhow, this is darker than the others.)
Madam Will You Talk? (This one was thrilling, for more overall evenly intriguing but still doesn’t come close to my original favs.)
Thunder on the Right (Eh, far more buildup than delivery.)
The Wind off the Small Isles (This was an enjoyable short story.)
All by Mary Stewart. A lot of my liking of these novels involves her evocative settings, so if I didn’t like the settings/her descriptions just didn’t match the atmosphere of previous ones, that fact was also mixed with any dislike of the story.
Death in Zanzibar, Death in Kashmir by MM Kaye. The former is up there with Death in Cyprus, the latter is enjoyable. I DNFed Death in Kenya. I think there is two that I have ordered/will order via interlibrary loan.
True Grit by Charles Portis. Eh.
Shane by Jack. Eh, but in the hands of a better author could’ve been awesome.
I’m going to keep trying, albeit slowly, on Westerns, though.
Arthur by Stephen R Lawhead. I have Pendragon (the 4th book), but I think I’m done with this series for now. I felt so lost and felt that the author was as well.
Outer Order Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin. This isn’t really a book, rather a collection of organizational/personal environment ideas. I felt it “spoke my language,” others may not feel so. I think motivational/self-help books are VERY specific to each person, I mean within the exact same topic, if one author doesn’t work for you, find another.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H Pink. Eh, considerably overstretched the “scientific” aspect, if you could even call it that; books like this and The Happiness Advantage (I DNF’ed for this reason, the lack of new concepts, and the tone) tend to stick “scientific” in quite too often and, I think, not very accurately. Sorry, not every scholarly study, undertaking, etc. is scientific. Also, protesting too much.
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Overall, great basic money advice. As with everything can be tailored to personal situation (something I didn’t realize in my foolish youth with his first book). Don’t agree about no credit cards, nor about super specific budgets all the time, ain’t gonna happen for this girl. But all the way there for the emergency fund!!!
I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. He speaks my language, and I find him hilarious. He also writes more for my age and situation. I want to get the newer copy of this book for myself. I agree with more of what he had to say/the way he said it than Ramsey although, truly, the overall advice isn’t wildly different (no helpful financial advice is at bare bones). But I found Sethi’s breakdown extremely helpful to me.
I thought this was really creative/fun/easy topic. I don’t pay too much attention to specific publication dates, more to decades/centuries/eras, so I was curious to see what would come up for me. I exported my Goodreads library and cutting down out extra columns, I managed to look at the years 2018-2009 on publication dates for books I’d rated 4 or 5 stars. I aimed for fiction when I could, but a few years I only had nonfiction. If there were two, and I thought that I preferred one over the other, I picked that. If there were two, and I thought both were equally deserving, I put both. I’m pretty sure I’ve featured most of the fiction on TTT multiple times, but what can I say, I love my favorites, and I’m quite picky. But, somebody PLEASE give Faerie Rebels and the Swift duo more attention.
- 2018 Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson
- 2017 The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
- 2016 The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd (a standalone middle-grade novel, my favorite of hers, Appalachian magic, like the first, which I love; I usually think magic belongs in Old World settings, but there are specific areas/cultures where it fits in the New World, and Appalachia is one)
- 2015 The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall (book four of The Penderwicks)
- 2014 Nomad by R.J. Anderson (the second book of Swift duo, was supposed to be trilogy, but that hasn’t come and might not come, mourning)
- 2013 Death by Living by N.D. Wilson
- 2012 Swift by R.J. Anderson (book one of Swift, a continuation of the world from Faerie Rebels)
- 2011 Entwined by Heather Dixon (a slight eery yet lovely retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale) and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (book three in a charming middle-grade series about four sisters)
- 2010 The Chesnut King by N.D. Wilson (the third book in The 100 Cupboards trilogy, a wonderful middle-grade fantasy trilogy)
- 2009 Knife and Rebel by R.J. Anderson (books one and two of the Faerie Rebels series, an awesome fantasy series that straddles the line between middle grade and teen like Harry Potter)
Here is the last post for the Anne of Green Gables reading challenge: Rilla of Ingleside. The questions are here.
What do you think of Rilla? Is she like her parents? How is she different?
Rilla is much more selfish and shallow than both of her parents. She does grow considerably though I still don’t find her super-likable although I can probably relate more to her.
After returning to Ingleside, Jem tells Rilla that Walter wasn’t scared at the front. Even though Walter was sickened by the thought of war, Jem said that he turned out to be a courageous hero. Why do you think that was? Anticipating a situation and actually being in the moment can be totally different experiences and sometimes bring out surprising reactions. Can you remember a time when this has happened to you?
I frequently dread things, and sometimes that dread is justifiable, sometimes proper planning does away with it, sometimes it makes the situation worse, and sometimes it turns out to be a waste of energy. Walter, like his father said, had an active imagination. He knew far more of what is would really be like than Jem and Jerry (although that would not have stopped them). But he possessed moral courage in the actual face of wrong-doing and duty.
There wasn’t much to Rilla’s relationship with Kenneth Ford in terms of time spent together. How do we know that their relationship is going to last?
Well, Rilla has been in love with Ken since she was little, and she waited for him. Ken is quite honorable, he wasn’t just playing at being in love with a much younger girl.
I am behind on these. Here is the link to the questions.
This book was totally centered around the Blythe small fry and their friends. Reading about their adventures in Rainbow Valley made me think of Anne’s days with the the Echo Lodge crew in Anne of Avonlea. It also made me think of Camp Laurence from Little Women, as well as sweet Betsy-Tacy moments. The innocence of childhood play is so lovely to read. Do you have any favorite Rainbow Valley moments? Did they remind you of other childhood moments from any other books?
I loved when the boys all stood up for the girls. I love the comradeship between the two families, and the clannishness (like between characters in books like The Penderwicks; their “clan” of friends, family, and neighbors). Una is my least favorite Meredith, but I love when she set things right between her father and Rosemary (I like Mr. Meredith and his dreamy ways; I think other people should’ve been more forthright about his abstraction and not leave it to the vulgar, horrible people).
Montgomery likes writing about romance lost (Captain Jim and Lost Margaret) or almost lost forever (Mr. Irving and Miss Lavender). What would you have done in Rosemary’s place? Would you have kept your promise to your sister and refused John Meredith despite loving him?
I would not have made such a promise, not because I am so wise, but because I would not have wanted to keep it, and I think the swearing part might’ve brought be to my senses if I had gotten that far; that was so incredibly controlling. I also don’t think promise keeping should be like oath-swearing (which is what Ellen made Rosemary do). This was such an ethical dilemma, but I think that Rosemary should have told him why she refused him, I think she owed him that much, that much of the oath should’ve been broken because she was hurting someone else badly. Ellen is so manipulative, selfish, and evil.
We’ve said goodbye to Anne’s childhood long ago. This book is a farewell to the sweet childhood of the Blythe clan. This always makes me sad. While being an adult is a wonderful thing in so many ways, childhood always calls to us in one way or another. What do you miss about childhood?
The relative simplicity, the clean slate, the fresh world.
I finished Anne of Ingleside long ago, and it is possibly my least favorite of the series, certainly it is the least memorable. I had to refresh my memory a bit.
Montgomery has some precious episodes in this book about the Blythe children. Do you have a favorite of the Ingleside munchkins? What was your favorite story?
Walter and Jem are my favorites. There are too many little tragedies for this book to be super enjoyable. Most of the children’s stories involve real terror, anxiety, or stress. The cake story could be considered a favorite merely because it cannot be assigned to the aforementioned category of tragedy, and I have no sympathy for Rilla’s ridiculous vanity. Nothing in that story is deep.
In this book we really get a taste of Anne and Gilbert’s parenting styles. What do you think of Doctor and Mrs. Blythe as parents? Do you have any thoughts about the way their household is run?
I GREATLY dislike the picking favorites between the twins; as in, I think that is absolutely despicable and doesn’t at all match with my conception of the honor and love the old Anne and Gilbert would give. I also dislike that Susan has such a say in things, particularly with Shirley. I am not sure the author meant to do this, but we hear more about Susan than Anne as Anne seems rather passively in the background, and this doesn’t fit with Anne’s personality at all in the earlier books; she was quite involved and hard-working (I think the author had trouble keeping a balance with characterization, e.g. Shirley is barely a personality at all). Also, that Mary Maria Blythe is an evil witch, and Gilbert should have made her leave, and Anne should have said something. No manner of loneliness or neglect or wrong justifies anyone in making everyone else miserable. What a busybody. She spoiled much of the book, I think.
Anne fears that Gilbert no longer loves her because he doesn’t seem to be as attentive. Do you think that Gil should have been more cognizant of his behavior or should Anne have voiced her concerns? Was she just being a worry-wort and over-dramatizing things or did she have a legit reason to be concerned/jealous?
I don’t think she had a legitimate reason to doubt Gilbert, but mentioning her worries might have saved her some anxiety. I do think that Christine was trying to deliberately draw Gilbert’s attention to herself and make Anne feel bad so that she, Christine, could feel better.
Anne’s House of Dreams is one of my least favorite Anne books. It contains considerably too much Leslie. As much as I enjoy L.M. Montgomery books, she has a rather glaring failing: she simply doesn’t know how to fully develop most of her heroes. Gilbert is still in the background. Also, this book is more confined in outlook. Although some of the few characters are rather interesting, there are still few characters. And the book’s preoccupation with Leslie’s story is boring and annoying. The story should be more about Anne (Anne features less and less in the novels; I enjoy the ones about her children, but Susan and other personalities shine far more than Anne). I do not need melodrama; I enjoy “quiet” stories with either a sweet tone or with underlying intensity, but I just found this novel lacking.
I am joining up here for the 2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge.
How is Anne’s friendship with Leslie different from her friendship with Diana? What are your thoughts about friendships and different seasons in life?
Diana and Anne were childhood friends and grew up together and shared many similar experiences. I think the book (in the guise of Miss Cornelia) points out that although Anne had a hard childhood, Leslie’s entire life was tragic, and Anne had never (until the death of her baby) experienced anything near so bitter as what Leslie constantly endure from age 12 and on.
I find it irritating and insincere when people can only relate to people in their specific season of life. Particularly when newly married people and new parents drop their single friends and seemingly instantaneously gain a (miraculous) superior (read: condescending) knowledge of everything the single friend has not experienced. Also, if you lose friends then you probably were not actually or should not have been friends with those people in the first place.
Leslie’s life is a tragic one. Once you learn her story, you understand why she was so bitter the night Anne and Gil come riding blissfully into Four Winds. How would you have felt if you were developing a friendship with Leslie?
I can see her bitterness, but I cannot sympathize. Anne is one of the most sensitive and tactful characters ever, so Leslie’s attitude is awful. (Also, I feel that her later misery is her partially her own fault; I don’t really feel as the book intends us to feel that she was morally compelled to marry Dick). Anne really is amazingly patient and kind for bitter people are hardly attractive; friendship with them is probably easier to maintain than obtain, but Anne reached out and endured. However, her reaction to Gilbert’s proposal of the medical procedure is morally abhorrent, and I felt, did not fit with Anne’s character well at all as she usually takes the moral high ground.
This is the book where Anne’s whole life changes. She’s a married woman now with a different lifestyle, different dreams, and different goals. But she’s still the same lovable Anne she’s always been. What are 3 things you think should never change when you get married?
Love for one’s spouse and one’s family. Basic personality. We should never change or attempt to change our fundamental personality as that would be insincere, but we should change anything sinful in our personality (i.e. certain personalities lean toward certain sins; e.g. choleric personalities have anger issues). Everything else depends on the person individually. I think that we should neither keep character traits because everyone needs to change for the better nor all goals and dreams because that is unfeasible and unreasonably confining (goals and dreams are not as a concept, moral, so there is nothing inherently right or wrong in having new goals and dreams).
I and my sisters have been on an L.M. Montgomery reading spree these last few months. I have only maybe one novel and several collections of short stories that I have not read. I have also recently reread the Anne books and am preparing to reread the Emily ones.
I am participating (at my own pace since I have finished the novels) in this challenge. Here are my answers to April’s questions for Anne of Windy Poplars.
What do you think of Anne’s letters to Gil? Do you have any favorite lines? Are you or have you ever been a letter writer? Do you require a certain kind of writing instrument to write certain things?
I am not a fan of completely epistolary novels, I liked the blend of narrative styles in this novel. I am not a letter writer. I prefer the looks of pens, particularly those with easily flowing ink. I do use pencils (more practical), but for important things, pens or I feel dissatisfied. I cannot think of favorite lines (I need to get back into the habit of filling up a quote journal!).
Who is your favorite character in this book? Any kindred spirits who stole your affection?
This novel is made up of vignettes of Anne’s three years of teaching, so most characters did not stay long. My favorite small characters are Lewis (of the Little Fellow story) and Nora and Jem. I did not overly love some of Anne’s kindred spirits, Little Elizabeth is sickly sweet; Katherine, unrelatable and unconvincingly kindred; and Jen, irritating and less developed as a character (not in a poorly written way, though). Rebecca Dew is hilarious though not a great favorite with me.
This is the last book before the start of Anne’s married life. What have been your favorite moments in her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood? What has she learned? How has she changed? How has she remained the same?
I love her rivalry with Gil and then her “friendzoning” relationship with him later. Her raising of and relationship with Davy is hilarious and enjoyable. Her scrapes and drama are funny. I like that she kept her imagination, her ideals, her character, but she realized her mistakes about certain dreams (her absurd hero, her melodramatic stories).
Starting with Blue Castle last year and continuing with Jane of Lantern Hill, A Tangled Web, and Magic for Marigold this year, I have been reading several of Montgomery’s usually later (compared to most of the Anne books), stand alone novels. My sisters have read or are reading them too, and we are enjoying them mightily. I feel like these are better written.
I am also re-reading the Anne novels which I love but I can definitely see an improvement in her writing. I need to read The Blythes Are Quoted (apparently the full version of another book The Road to Yesterday), The Golden Road, and the rest of her short story collections.
The first Anne books were written with a year between, then there was a gap of 6 years after which four books were published every two years, then finally two more 15 and 18 years later. Most of her other novels were published between Rilla of Ingleside and Anne of Ingleside. This is the order of publications with the chronological order numbered.
1. Anne of Green Gables
2. Anne of Avonlea
3. Anne of the Island
5. Anne’s House of Dreams
7. Rainbow Valley
8. Rilla of Ingleside
4. Anne of Windy Poplars
6. Anne of Ingleside
Hopefully, today I am leaving on a cross-country road trip, so I should have plenty of posts from that.
I recently finished with the final two books of The Eagle of the Ninth “series” that I had not read: Dawn Wind and Frontier Wolf.
I mentioned to some people, during a discussion about The Eagle film, about how I did not think that The Eagle of the Ninth makes for a good movie (that film was not well made period, though). I think that holds true for all of the books. The stories are not merely plots, and all the intensity and detail is the words, so many emotions and details are underlying and implied in the stories. There is no melodrama, but the intensity will tear your heart out.
Here is the series in chronological order. By series I mean it traces Marcus’ direct line down through the generations via his ring. There are enough generations between books, so there no memories just the ties barely hinted at which and this makes these books all the more interesting.
The Eagle of the Ninth
The Silver Branch
The Lantern Bearers
The Shield Ring
Stand alone books that I have read include: Outcast, Warrior Scarlet, The Mark of the Horse Lord, and The Shining Company. Ones that have content/graphic inappropriateness include: Sword at Sunset (this is considered a crossover book between Eagle and Arthurian Legend series, but since this barely says anything much of Aquila and Flavian and focuses more on Artos, a skip for content is fine story wise; it does not fit the pattern of the other books which make Marcus’ family the central story) and Blood and Sand. I would just make certain the novels are for children not adults and you should be okay. I like to use Wikipedia.
- I am participating at my own speed in this challenge. I started my re-read in March and will be on book five by the time this posts.JanuaryAnne of Green GablesThis first installment of Anne Shirley’s story is about her finding a home after years of displacement. While we often consider ‘home’ to be synonymous with ‘house’, it’s also a state of being. What does home mean for you and what makes it special?A sanctuary, a haven, a safe place. A place in which my family lives. Where there are limits to outside contact in order to have rest and respite. Where there is little to fear.Friendship is such a huge theme in this book. There are many elements that make up a great bosom friendship like Anne and Diana’s but if you had to pick three of those elements, what would they be?Trust, and by that I mean not merely that the friends do not break confidences, but that the friends does not misinterpret or abuse words. Longevity. Diana and Anne stay friends even though for a time their circumstance were totally different; if a friendship cannot last, people should not have been friends in the first place. Integrity. Diana and Anne do not destroy or attempt to destroy each other’s relationships whether familial, friendly, or romantic. Indeed, Diana did try to persuade Anne to mend her relationship with Gilbert, and I do not think Diana encouraged Anne in her unforgiving attitude.Of course, we love Gilbert Blythe but the real sweetheart in the first book is Matthew Cuthbert. What makes Matthew such a great father figure in Anne’s life? And (if you’ve read the books before) what effect do you think his love and influence has in the rest of Anne’s life?Matthew, as Anne later says, is the first person in Anne’s memory to love her. He listens and does not mock, criticize, or reprove her often wild, imaginative speech. He is her source of encouragement and support in both trouble and triumph. He is the real example to her ideals of the treatment and raising of children.FebruaryAnne of AvonleaAnne of Avonlea introduces a cast of new characters including Mr. Harrison, Miss Lavender, Davy & Dora, Paul Irving, and Charlotta the Fourth. Which new character(s) was the most endearing to you? What do you like about them?I like Mr. Harrison and Davy because they are hilarious each in their own way. And they both force Anne to look at things via different perspectives from her own.Anne has such high hopes and ideals when she sets out to teach Avonlea School. However, she’s in for a few surprises. What do you think about expectations and ideals when approaching a new situation? What do you think Anne discovered in this season as a school teacher?I think that Anne already had a knack with children. I feel that she learned more from Davy and Dora than from this particular teaching experience. . . except in the case of Anthony Pye. However, I do understand why she was so upset when she explained that she punished him in anger.What do you think of Miss Lavender’s romance? Do you agree with Gilbert’s comment on what could have been?I agree with Gilbert . . . and his double meaning/warning. But still, I do NOT agree with Marilla’s rendering of it in prose; I do not think either Mr. Irving or Miss Lavender were that pragmatic.MarchAnne of the IslandThere are some great conversations between Anne and Gil in this book. As much as I love the TV series, some of the real essence of their friendship is lost in the film adaptation. They were such buddies! Is there a scene in the book that you wish hadn’t been left out of the film adaptation?Well, all of them. The first proposal to begin the list. The first proposal in the movies border lined on if not actually committed plagiarism Laurie’s proposal from Little Women (the novel). That film had other distinct plagiarisms from the novels, one also with a Gilbert/Laurie parallel (two leading men who are not remotely alike). Anne and Gilbert did not bicker like Jo and Laurie; that sort of behavior was not like them at all. The movies increasingly infuriate me as they progress.The proposal. Ah! The proposal! Tell me, which do you like better? The film version or the book version? Mind you, I see Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie when I read the books so I’m not talking about the acting but rather the scenes for their own sake.See above. I want to research that subject better. Anne and Gilbert in the movies are little like the book characters.Let’s talk about Roy Gardener, the man straight out of Anne’s dreams. Give three reasons why he’s so not the guy for her. And if you’d like, talk a bit about having a ‘dream man’ and whether or not we should hold out for them or eventually let them go.He wasn’t the guy for her because half of what she thought for and all of what she felt for him was imagined. Because he could not be the understanding companion that Gilbert was. Because in reality Roy had little in common with her. And as to having a “dream man,” well that depends on whether we have high expectations (which is good, as long as we have them for our own behavior/character/appearance) and unrealistic expectations (i.e. expecting perfection or expecting low of ourselves and high of our men).BONUS QUESTION!Christine Stewart. I get that TV has to be written so that the plot moves along smoothly and all, and I can respect that, but really? What do you think about what Sullivan did in the movie as opposed to how Montgomery wrote Gil’s relationship with her?Again, this goes back to the filmmakers’ misunderstanding/misrepresentation of Anne. Anne really loved Gilbert, and that colored everything she understood about him and about Roy (she thought she loved Roy; she was not settling), but she also undervalued him. She did not understand that he loved her so deeply that he had not gotten over her or attempted to compromise. That is why she thought the untrue of him, that he quickly lost his feelings for her and became engaged to Christine. Sullivan merely chose to go the conventional route involving compromising on both sides.