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 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.
I had seen this book appear on a couple blogs, but our library did not have it at the time and bought it on my recommendation but forgot to put in on my request list, so I only recently discovered that the library had it. Definitely worth the wait. Read for the first time in total ignorance (I only new a very little and what I did not was distorted/far less important than I thought so did not really mess up my reading experience). Realistic dismal and dreary sections. Mercifully short miserable sections. Wonderful humorous sections. Beautiful nature and introverted-homey sections. Romance. Perfect, one-of-a-kind hero. The end.
Montgomery wrote with her usual luminous, magical style of simplicity and enchantment, weaving in nature’s beauty with an artist and poet’s skill. I love the characters–both their uniqueness in themselves and their overall types. I love the freedom and silliness and jolliness and innocence of the children’s escapades. Their view of grownups and the grownups treatment/reaction to them. The little fights, trials, adorations/admirations, and skills. I love this sort of homespun story with sparkle. The world of these children is so different from ours.
Again, I was surprised. I guess I shouldn’t be now. Apparently I am ready to like more classics than I was previously. I greatly enjoyed this book. I guess I assumed the trial took up more of the book and that might have been part of my reason for not wanting to read it, but it didn’t take up very much of the book. It was a book of childhood. I loved it. Nothing seemed too forced about the “social issue,” and this issue didn’t dominate the story. I am afraid that people make too much of the book, and I am not sure I like every stance in there, especially not the end line. I don’t like the “we know now” and they were “ahead of their times” which attitudes imply that our times have improved; they haven’t, the wrongs are just different.*
“Jem” with an “e.” I like this much better than the horrid “Jim” especially because of the other “Jem” with an “e” like his mother “Anne” with an “e.” All of my children are going to have names based on books and the boys names are going to come from several characters of the same name. The end.
I am sorry this is so short; I really need to scribble out my thoughts during or just after reading or I often don’t have much to say.