Monday, May 21, 2012

Filling a gap in my literary repertoire

Never in my whole life had I read any Anne of Green Gables books until last week. When I was a girl, I read a bunch of L. M. Montgomery short stories and they were all kind of syrupy sweet and horribly derivative of each other. So I never picked up her pièce de résistance.

Now, at age thirty, for the first time, I've read Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island. Here are the verdicts.

I loved Anne of Green Gables. I wish I could have read it as a kid because I think I would have loved it even more. The writing is perfectly descriptive and Anne herself is such a joy of a character. Now I know who Flavia de Luce reminds me of, a little. I have to admit that my imaginings of the book and its characters were helped along by the wonderful TV movie that was made in the 80s. Reading the book made me want to watch the movie all over again. And I suspect that watching the movie would make me want to read the book all over again.

Anne of Avonlea, on the other hand, was such a disappointment. Where the first book was perfectly sweet, this one was cloying. Where the first book was endearingly cute, this one was overly precocious. And so help me, I wanted to punch little Davy in the face every time he appeared on the page. Hmph. I see now why the movie cobbled together characters and plots from this book and reduced their influence on the main story.

Thankfully, Anne of the Island was lovely again. I guess Montgomery figured out what she did wrong in Avonlea and fixed most of those problems (though Davy still makes a few appearances). A few years ago, I made the daring assertion that Anne would have been better off with Morgan Harris rather than Gilbert. A lot of commenters disagreed with me. I now stand corrected. Anne and Gilbert are EPIC. Besides, the movie's Morgan Harris doesn't really exist in the book except as an amalgamation of Royal Gardner and Mr. Irving, so there.

I'm so glad I've filled this particular hole in my literary repertoire!

6 comments:

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I remember feeling the same way when I first read the series--AGG is a gem of a book and so is the movie w/ Megan Follows.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I had read all the books long before the movie(s) came out. The movies missed several of my favorite parts, but we're still much better movie adaptations than most! Now I am going to have to pull out my books and read them again this weekend.

Myrna said...

L. M. Montgomery (who went by Maud) actually really, really disliked writing sequels, and it shows in some of them more than others. But her publisher and fans demanded them. There are many more books past Anne of the Island...Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside...

Jill said...

I LOVED Rainbow Valley when I was in elementary school.

elliespen said...

Ah. This explains quite a bit. I couldn't believe, when you wrote your list of heroines who end up with the wrong guy, that you would include Anne on the list. But if you'd never read the books. . . .

I love the whole series, but in my opinion Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside are far and away superior to the others.

Janie said...

Keep reading! Anne's House of Dreams is one of my favorite books, ever.

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