How I learned to love Anne of Green Gables

Last year, I visited Prince Edward Island on a whim. Less than 24 hours to explore “the gentle island,” sample Cow’s ice-cream, take photos of Cavendish Beach, party in Charlottetown, swap spit with a young man on a picnic table outside my hostel, and visit Green Gables… the “setting” for the classic Anne of Green Gables series. I didn’t know anything about Anne or LM Montgomery. I watched a short clip about the author’s life, got a little teary eyed, and moved on to explore the house.

In the bookshop, I picked up the first book in the series. Anne of Green Gables. It was cheap, and I felt it was a “true” souvenir. I had tried reading the book years ago as a kid, but threw it aside after Anne declared her hatred for redheads. How dare she?

This past spring, I picked up where I left off. I dived in headfirst, and then there was no turning back. I devoured the book, I freaking consumed it and developed a friendship with Anne that I haven’t found in any other literary character. She became as real to me as my own friends, and her ongoing stubbornness about refusing friendship with Gilbert Blythe sometimes made me scream.

Fortunately, Maggie has been an avid Anne reader for years, and she graciously handed over the rest of the series to me. It took me a few months to get through them all, but I did it. I was with Anne and her family as they grew up, married off, suffered through a war, and embraced life on the island. I adored Jem, and Rilla, and the twins, even when their lives became the focus of the books rather than Anne’s. I have never been more compelled to book it to Prince Edward Island ASAP.

At the end of the series, with the most perfect ending you could possibly imagine, I closed the book and tried not to let Ange know I was sniffling in the passenger seat as we drove home from Twillingate. What a loss! My little island family no more. How would I go on?

The series is wildly popular, especially in Japan, and is a HUGELY influential factor in PEI’s booming tourism industry despite its small size. Maggie and I discussed our infatuation with the series, and how badly it makes us want to go back to that era where you were forced to raise babies and wear dresses with stockings and spend your evenings knitting blankets while gossiping with the town folk. Because it’s simple, yet everything was significantly harder. Imagine, having to take care of house and home, manually! Having to attend school without a laptop?! Churn your own BUTTER?!!! I would never be stuck in this weird quarter-life crisis, because my life would have been mapped out for me years ago.

Ain’t it just so wonderful?

Where could I do that? Where could I live in total oppression and without any technology whatsoever, for like, a week? In a Mennonite village, perhaps?

And naturally, Newfoundland has a counter-argument. I can’t embed the video, but it’ll kill you with laughter. KILL.

Have you met Anne?

  • September 16 2011

    “avid Anne reader for years” . . . that’s one way to put it.

    This blog post actually made me tear up a little bit. My love for Anne is a bit out of control.

    I was really happy you liked the books so much, though :) I’ll have to lend you the miniseries, and then we can have a big ol’ chat about that as well ;D

    …I think it’s time I reread the series again…

    • September 19 2011

      Freakishly obsessive reader? Hehe.

  • September 17 2011

    I’m a bit ashamed to admit have to admit I’ve never met Anne…
    although I think I’ve pieced together where that ‘green gables’ part comes from.
    All those hours spent not reading are clearly being put to good use pondering/solving ‘mysteries’ like that. Pretty deep, eh?!
    :)

    • September 19 2011

      Agreed! Pffft, books. Who needs ’em.

  • September 17 2011

    I love Anne of Green Gables! I’ve read almost all of L.M. Montgomery’s books and I adore them! I have the three part VHS videos and everything! I would love to take a trip to P.E.I to see where the book was based off of.

    • September 19 2011

      I totally need to spend more time there. I haven’t watched the movies yet, but I’m working on it!

      • September 19 2011

        They’re awesome! Really long though, but its worth it, and like any movie some things are a little different/didn’t happen in the book.

  • September 18 2011

    Churnning your own butter and making your own cheese, I for one would not make a good pioneer.

    • September 19 2011

      Me neither, I’m sure I’d never hold down a husband with my cooking.

  • September 18 2011

    This made me smile! I love how I literally did the exact same thing – went to the house, bought the book and have re-discovered my Anne my obsession. (I never had ill-fated feelings. Haha). I just finished book one and can’t wait to get my hands on book 2 & all the rest. Ahhh! Have you seen the movies? So good.

    I am glad I am not the only twenty-something who hearts Anne :)

    • September 19 2011

      I KNOW! Hahaha, too funny. I’m working on the movies next, I just don’t have any hours in the day left. Sigh!

      We should start an Anne fan club or something.

  • September 18 2011

    I love Anne! I just started taking a class about children’s book publishing and we were just talking about this series and I got all nostalgic because I devoured all of the books and your post makes me want to go to PEI.

    • September 19 2011

      Oh man, they have those books on a children’s curriculum??!! Hahaha. I want to go to PEI too!

  • September 18 2011

    Anne of Green Gables was one of my favourite book’s as a kid, but I only ever read the first two in the series. When I went to PEI a few years back I went to the Anne of Green Gables house and everything, but it was the off season so it was closed. Still it was nice to drive around and see the landscape that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery.

    • September 19 2011

      Read the rest! I think the final book is the best one!

  • September 19 2011

    I’m glad you gave Anne another chance. I think I read this series at least 3 times as a kid. My parents had to intervene and get me to find another series. I’m with you on the Gil thing… even on repeat reads, I still cringed every time she rejected him and always felt relieved when they finally wound up together.

    • September 21 2011

      UGH I know, I kept being all “DONT YOU KNOW YOU’RE SOULMATES?!” You clearly had better taste than me as a kid. :)

  • December 26 2011

    I read the books only a few years ago, although I watched the TV series and I liked them a lot! Naturally, I brought my Lucy Maud Montgomery collection when I visited Prince Edward Island.

    • December 30 2011

      I totally regret not buying the whole collection now!

  • July 24 2012
    Sauerkraut

    I remember watching the cartoon on Television Ontario’s children’s programming many years ago when I was still a child. Like you I was never a big fan of Anne before I visited Green Gables and had tried to read the book when I was much younger but gave up half way. I just got back from PEI and by coincidence I picked up the exact same book in Charlottetown and after watching the little clip they showed before they let you see the house, I decided to finally give the book another chance, and now I’m consumed in it. Im now a very big fan of Anne now, even though I found the first book to be very sad.

    • July 24 2012
      Sauerkraut

      Especially the part where Marilla takes Anne to Spencer’s house, even though I knew that they were going to keep her, it was still very sad and touching. This truly is one of the greatest works of literature history has known.

      • July 30 2012

        Oh I love that you had the same experience as me! My lord those books became such an important part of my reading life. Watching the TV series now to see how it stacks up.

  • November 23 2014
    Kaitlyn

    Hey Candice, this post made me smile! If you still crave some Anne-like characters, the Emily of New Moon series and the the book ‘the blue castle’ (both L.M. Montgomery) are books I’ve read several times over.

    • December 01 2014

      Ooh I had heard of those but hadn’t really thought of giving them a shot! Thank you, I’m gonna add them to my Goodreads to-read list.

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