Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a childhood classic that kids (especially girls) have been voraciously digesting since its release in 1908. But is it still relevant to today’s children?
For those of you who don’t know, Anne of Green Gables is a book about a girl named Anne who is adopted by Matthew and Marilla, brother and sister living in a secluded house known as Green Gables. Anne is a vivacious girl, always imagining all kinds of things and getting into all kinds of scrapes and adventures along the way.
The book tracks Anne through ages eleven to sixteen, so it moves quickly, detailing Anne’s great friendship with her neighbor Diane and her education at the schoolhouse to getting her teaching license. Throughout the book there are many lifelike characters, such as Rachel Lynde, who knows everybody’s business, other school kids, and shy Matthew.
It seems that not too many kids are still reading the Anne series, and I only read it recently through an effort to read some more older-type books like this. Part of the reason may be the length: It is over 100,000 words, which is long considering the target audience for this kind of book (which features no particular kind of action but instead simply models after real life) is getting younger. There have been much shorter adaptions of the book that are still widely read.
While on the one hand this makes the target audience for Anne of Green Gables younger, in practice it means that many of the book reading the series are adults. Certainly there is much material-especially in the later books-that adults will appreciate a lot.
As to the actual merit of the book, Anne is an intriguing character, with her frequent imaginations. Although I haven’t had imaginings along a similar vein, it’s easy to understand where she’s coming from and emphasize with her. It’s good how the author doesn’t make her a perfect girl by any means (which I was a little afraid of at the beginning of the book), but just a regular girl.
Montgomery’s best trait is creating characters who we can understand and who become real to us before we know it. Partly this is because of her style where she gives such a rush of events in a relatively short writing space, which is a good lesson for authors who might want to do a similar thing.
There are also some things in the book which are a little weird. Anne is constantly concerned about having too many freckles and red hair, thinking them to not be attractive, which isn’t something I think modern girls will really care very much about. A lot of the traditions, customs, and terms that are in here are not at all relevant or even in existence today, so readers will have to be aware of that and possibly be prepared to look some things up.
I like some of the later books in this series better, but Anne of Green Gables is fun and more than good enough to read. Anne’s imagination and love of nature is captivating, for adults as well as children, and (despite Anne’s orphan origins) is a much more benign and realistic character than a lot of the crazy ones that are seen populating most kids’ novels.
A lot of girls will definitely still like it, but the age range of the book will be lower than when it first came out because kids seem to grow up faster than they used to. It is good for parents to read to/with children ages seven, eight, or nine, and great for older girls who will appreciate Anne’s escapades.