October 5, 2015

Return to Green Gables: Re-Read Reflections


As Anne Shirley has said, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." While every October holds its own special charm, this one is all the more precious because it holds something I've been looking forward to for ages: Return to Green GablesAlexa from Alexa Loves BooksRachel  from Hello, Chelly and I wanted to celebrate this kindred spirit, so we've got some fun things in store for you! Be sure to visit all of our blogs during the next week as we pay tribute to the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.

A few years ago, I decided to re-read the Anne series. It had been a while since I'd visited my favorite dreamer. I wondered if the magic would still be there as an adult. There are some books I love, no matter my age... but some don't grow as you do. I've been disappointed in the past after re-reading childhood  favorites! Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about with L.M. Montgomery. There's a reason her books have remained classics - beloved by readers both then and now. So, I approached this most recent re-read with excitement. I knew I was going to love them, and I looked forward to spending time with my old friends.

I always enjoyed following Anne throughout her life and watching as she grows from a young child into a wife and mother. I think my favorite thing about re-reading the Anne series is how I can appreciate the later books in the series more now that I'm an adult. But I'll get to those books in a minute! Let's start at the beginning. Anne of Green Gables will always be my favorite book of the series. I've returned to this book most often - when I needed to laugh or to cry or to just lose myself in the magic of a great read. Anne's longing for a family, her desire for a bosom friend and her joy when she finds both never fails to move me. I think this is the most memorable book of the series, too, with so many hilarious mishaps (raspberry cordial! green hair! yelling at Mrs. Lynde!).

Following Anne of Green Gables, we have more "young adult" Anne in Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island. I loved seeing her become a teacher, and watching as she helps Marilla care for two orphan twins, Davy and Dora. That's something that's left out of the movie adaptation, but it's such a good storyline! And, of course, you start to see her wrestle with romance. As an ardent fan of Gilbert Blythe, I always looked forward to Anne of the Island because it marks a shift in their friendship. Anne is so blind to her own feelings, but it creates such delicious tension while you're reading! It's quite enjoyable seeing her attend Redmond College and live with close friends. It's fun to see her growing up but still maintaining her sense of wonder and love of beauty.

Anne of Windy Poplars is different than the other books in the series, particularly because a large part is written in epistolary format. I love that Anne was writing such adorable letters to Gilbert, but Montgomery cuts out all the best parts. I WANT MORE LOVEY DOVEY STUFF, LMM. That being said, I do love seeing Anne win over the Pringles and the prickly Miss Katherine Brooke. No one can resist Anne's charms! The only downside with this book is that Anne is so far from everyone she loves, so I always end up missing some of my favorite characters - though you definitely meet some unforgettable new ones!

There's a shift in the series with Anne's House of Dreams. Anne is all grown up and getting married! I always loved this book, even when I was younger, because Anne and Gilbert are finally together. I absolutely adore their wedding, and it contains one of my all-time favorite passages in the series. It's so sweet to see them move into their house of dreams, as Anne calls it. Anne isn't really getting into scrapes anymore, but she's still befriending everyone she meets. It's not all joy, however, as this book contains one of the saddest moments in the series (in my opinion). I ached for Anne and Gilbert, and the loss hit me harder now than it ever did before.

I'll be honest, Anne of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley are probably my least favorite books in the series. The first focuses primarily on Anne and Gilbert's children, and the second includes them but mostly focuses on the Meredith children (their neighbors). I always get frustrated in Anne of Ingleside because Gilbert's aunt moves in with them, and she is absolutely insufferable! She sucks the life out of the family, and it drives me crazy. And there's a little tension and insecurity between Anne and Gil, which is probably realistic but I never want to imagine my darlings having marital issues. Ha! I think I enjoyed Rainbow Valley more as a child because I found the Blythes and the Merediths hilarious. But I couldn't help missing Anne and Gilbert in it this time around!

Then, there's Rilla of Ingleside. It feels a little different than all the previous books because it focuses on Anne and Gilbert's youngest child, Rilla. She's almost fifteen, and she dreams of dances and romance and pretty dresses. But everything changes when the war breaks out. Nothing and no one will be the same after. It feels heavier than all the other Anne books, but it was also the most emotional read for me. I'm so attached to this family that it breaks my heart when the boys go off to war. As much as it hurts, I just love this book and this story!

I always love returning to Green Gables and to the multitude of places and people that capture Anne's heart. I feel like Anne introduced me to a new way of seeing the world. Because of her, I realized that everyone has their own story. She's the first character that I can remember who made me see the beauty in imperfect people - and the power in loving them wholeheartedly. But she's got a fierce temper and an unforgiving stubborn streak, and I was happy that she got it wrong sometimes, too. I found her at the exact right time in my life, and I'm thankful for her influence on me and my reading journey. I will always love Miss Anne Shirley.

Series Favorites

Favorite Book: Anne of Green Gables, of course. There's just something so magical about that first book! I don't think I could ever get tired of reading it. But my second favorite is Anne of the Island. I love seeing Anne at college, living with her friends, and growing into an adult. Plus, it's the most romantic book in the series!

Favorite Main Character: What kind of question is this?! Anne Shirley is clearly the best! She's the star of the series, and I just adore everything about her. I like her best as a child and young adult because she's got the most sass then, but it's lovely to watch her mature and finally have the family of her dreams.

Favorite Secondary Character: GILBERT BLYTHE. I strongly considered highlighting another character because there are some gems in this series, but it wouldn't be fair to the man of my dreams. I fell in love with Gilbert the first time I met him, and no literary hero has ever held a candle to him. He's practically perfect in every way.

Favorite Animal: Dog Monday from Rilla of Ingleside. I'd completely forgotten the dog's role in this story, but it was one of my favorite parts of the book. My heart just ached as he waited and waited at the train station for his boy to return from war... and I definitely shed some tears by the end!

Favorite Place: While I love Green Gables, I'm choosing Gilbert and Anne's House of Dreams. It was a place of love and laughter, but it held sorrow, too. But there's a beauty in brokenness - and in the way it can draw people together. Gilbert asks Anne at the end, "We have been happy here, haven't we, Anne-girl?" SOB.

Favorite Quote: "But it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun-carpeted stairs that September noon - the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her - if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood - then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other's keeping and both were unafraid." - Anne's House of Dreams

Favorite Anne-ism: "Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there so many of them in the world." - Anne of Green Gables

Favorite Sassy Moment: It's so hard to choose just one, but I think Anne breaking her slate over Gilbert's head will always be my favorite. It's just such a memorable moment, and it sets the tone for their relationship in the first book. I love that she has a temper... and that Gilbert tries so hard to get back in her good graces!

Favorite Sad Moment: I think the death in the first book is probably the saddest moment of the series for me. I don't want to spoil it, so I won't say more. But I always cry a little when I get to that part of the book. With this re-read, the death in the last book got to me, too. I was so sad for the Blythe family.

Favorite Sweet Moment: Gilbert's (second) proposal in Anne of the Island will always and forever be my favorite sweet (and swoony) moment in the series. I love when he tells her about his unfulfilled dream and confesses his feelings for her. And her response is just the best - "I don't want  sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you."

Favorite Surprising Moment: I was surprised when Rilla brought home a baby in a soup tureen in Rilla of Ingleside. I love how the situation forces her to grow up and take on more responsibility. And it was so enjoyable to watch her fall in love with the darling baby boy! 

Favorite Silly Moment: Anne is invited to dinner by her friend Trix Taylor in Anne of Windy Poplars, but everyone warns her about the family patriarch. Cyrus Taylor likes to sulk and make everyone uncomfortable by refusing to speak. Because his family is a little in awe of him, they fall silent when he's in one of his fits. Anne, in an attempt to lighten the mood, asks a loaded question... and the whole situation spirals out of control right before her eyes. It's hilarious because Anne's good intentions backfire but still somehow work out for the best.

Don't forget to visit Alexa's post and Rachel's post,
and check back tomorrow for three special features with an Anne twist!

5 comments:

  1. I love this! I can't wait to see more :) I also love Anne, and I'm happy to find more kindred spirits!

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  2. I really loved getting the opportunity to reread the series! There's something incredibly lovely about the way LMM tells Anne's story, and experiencing it all over again was certainly a fun thing to do. I love that you broke down your thoughts into different sections depending on which part of Anne's life a novel tackled; that's very clever!

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  3. I've never read this series, but I'm thinking I might need to eventually change that!

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  4. I loved Rilla and I think it's a little disappointing that so many people never read it before it's at the end of the series.

    Also, did you ever watch Avonlea the tv series on Disney? On the show Marilla does actually adopt Davey and Dora, although the timing is a little off since the tv show takes place after the Anne miniseries-es.

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  5. ohh i love your thoughts on this series!! i share almost the same sentiments as you haha

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