January 13, 2016

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

5 stars: I love this book!

I thought it fitting to kick off my reviews with one of my favorite books of all time: Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Mongtomery.

I even re-read it, just so it would all be fresh in my mind, as it has been a year or two.  It captivated me just as much as ever. I laughed every so often and even admit to a bit of mistiness around the eyes here and there.

Anne brought me through some tough middle school years, when my family lived way up north in Barrow, Alaska. She was so real to me. I just knew for sure we would be kindred spirits, and I longed for her to live next door and be my best friend.

Or preferably, I would live next door to her. It would be several more years before I gained an appreciation of the unique beauty of the tundra surrounding me.  Particularly in the middle of the those dark, frozen winters, I lived off of the evocative descriptions of beautiful Prince Edward Island. Passages like this one:
"Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle." (21)  [Happy sigh.]
The passages about trees particularly fed my soul. Barrow is above the tree line. In fact, someone as a joke had nailed a sign to an old telephone pole that read, "Barrow National Forest." Meanwhile, the world of my imagination was filled with crimson maples, the bloom-filled orchard, the White Way of Delight, the Snow Queen, the ring of birches, even the Haunted Wood; trees are such a part of Anne's existence at Green Gables. While Anne was imagining fairy voyages, I was imagining trees! At least we had the ocean in common...though mine was frozen solid most of the year.

A few snippets about trees. First, from the ever-practical Rachel Lynde:
"Trees aren't much company, though dear knows if they were there'd be enough of them. I'd rather look at people." (4)
And Anne's more imaginative view:
"Maples are such sociable trees," said Anne, "they're always rustling and whispering to you." (127) 
 "Listen to the trees talking in their sleep," she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground. "What nice dreams they must have." (27)
There's a part of me that really wants to visit Prince Edward Island, but another part that doesn't. How can it live up to my expectations more than 100 years after this book was written? Surely there must be a lot more people, and lot less loveliness. What if I go there and it's a disappointment?  Have any of you been? Do you want to go?

Finally, just for fun, as I went through this time I underlined old-fashioned names for flowers that I didn't recognize. Next time through I'll have an even more colorful picture in my head of that gorgeous setting.

Sidenote: I hardly ever write in my books, but this was the paperback copy I've had since the 6th grade (SEE?!) I've been thinking about upgrading for awhile now.

So, for your future reference:
"lady's eardrops" (1) = fuchsia flowers
"June bells" (76) = Virginia bluebells? (Mertensia virginica)
photo from www.pd4pic.com

Verdict uncertain on this one.
There was some disagreement about this in Google-land. In addition to bluebells, there were some claims for lily-of-the-valley, and many sites saying it was the creeping bellflower, otherwise known as Campanula rampunculoides.

(These light purple flowers in my pot were bellflowers, though a different variety.)

I have my doubts that creeping bellflower could be the right one, though, as Montgomery describes it as "those shyest and sweetest of woodland blooms." (76) 
From everything I've read, creeping bellflower is a thug that will promptly take over any plot of ground and choke out all other life, spreads by rhizomes and by seeds, and is not one you would ever plant on purpose. To eradicate it from a site you literally have to sift the dirt and remove any piece of threadlike root, plus dig deep enough to remove all of the carroty tuber; otherwise it will grow back. One site called it "cancer of the garden." Well, okay then.

All that to say, my vote is for the bluebells on this one.

  "Bouncing Bets" (103) = soapwort or wild sweet William

photo from www.pd4pic.com
"Adam-and-Eve" (103-104) = putty-root orchid, or Aplectrum hymale
[Includes several pictures and a nice description of its range and characteristics.]
"scarlet lightning" (104) = Jerusalem cross, Maltese cross, or lychnis chalcedonica
photo from pixabay.com

"white musk-flowers" (104) = Musk mallow or malva moschata
photo from pd4pix.com
 Like this one, but white!

Anne Shirley will always hold a special place in my heart. I am already getting excited to introduce my daughter to her. In fact, she saw the book out and was asking about it.
It may be time!
Any other die-hard Anne fans out there? Do you write in your books?
Tell me everything!


  1. How fun Linnae! I love this blog. I adore Anne Shirley. I read my copy to my daughter this past year. What a special time to become acquainted with Anne-Girl :-). Yes, I write in my books. I learned it from Grandma Fuller. I have her copy of Little Women (actually, I loaned it to Jess - she still has it, hmmmm). I think seeing her handwriting in books makes me feel like she is right there reading the books with me. I highlight passages I like too. What a fun blog idea!

    1. Thanks, Colette! I'm glad you stopped by. :) That would be neat to have Grandma's annotations. She was so witty--I'll bet she had some great insights.

  2. I also adore Anne! I've read a couple of her books and should probably get Lucy to read it this year too! I'm not much of a reader but I like to think that one day I will be so I appreciate your blog!

    1. It's good to know I'm surrounded by kindred spirits! Hee hee. I'm glad you visited.