Sometimes it’s amazing to me the books that somehow passed me by during my childhood. Books that seemingly everyone remembers fondly, books that shaped who they are and that warmly color the memories they have of growing up. I don’t know how I looked over Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, but I now know I was worse off because of it.
About a year ago, I noticed that Anne of Green Gables was available on a free audiobook app I had on my iPhone. I have an hour long commute each way (and at that time, hadn’t yet discovered the Book Riot podcast or Reading Lives) and I figured I would check it out as I remember friends discussing it glowingly when we spoke about the books we loved as children.
Just a few sentences in, I already felt that my childhood had been robbed of Lucy Maud’s humor, heart and irreverence. The character she created in Anne Shirley was someone I could’ve used in my school days. A character who was painfully aware of her flaws but still couldn’t help but be herself. The part I loved about the character was that she didn’t just embrace these flaws as a message from the author to “love thyself, reader!”. Anne Shirley was realistic… we all know that no matter how many times your mom told you that you were awesome, you couldn’t see past those extra five pounds, the frizzy hair, the not-quite-cool clothes. Instead, Montgomery understood and embraced the self-consciousness of school aged children. And I believe this is what made Anne Shirley a character for all ages, and why the Anne of Green Gables series still holds up today.
While I was not fortunate to know Anne during my childhood, I feel that my love of her as a 34 year old married woman with a child of my own is just as enthusiastic and real. I feel like she’s been with me this entire time… a friend walking by my side that I didn’t even know existed. I cannot wait until my daughter is old enough to read them and discover this unlikely friend herself.
Thank you for the gift of Anne Shirley, Ms. Montgomery!