Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables #1) by L. M. Montgomery
I know I have already written a post on my love of Anne of Green Gables, but after my book club had reread Anne of Green Gables i wanted to write a post on why I recommend it as a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers. I just realized we read the book about two years ago and I never got around to posting (you know me, I have 100s of drafts of posts I need to complete.)
I was looking for said draft when I discovered two older Anne of Green Gables drafts. I decided let’s clean house and combine all three.
Older owners of Green Gables, Matthew and Marilla Cutbert, have decided that in order to continue running their farm they need extra help. They decide to adopt an orphan boy, sending the message through the daughter of a friend. When Matthew goes to the station to pick him up, it turns out there was a serious miscommunication and they have a girl waiting.
Matthew takes her home, where Marilla is upset and determined to send her back. When she meets the woman who will take Anne instead, and sees how horrible she is, Marilla decides she will do her best to raise her.
Anne has had a hard life, her parents dying at a young age in poverty, then being shipped from family to family; mostly being used as a free baby-sitter than treated as a member of the family. She has spent a lot of her time alone or with children much younger than her, and has created habits that some, at that time, find strange. She has an extensive imagination, creates imaginary playmates, and when she does get with people just talks and talks and talks.
Marilla has no idea how to raise children, let alone this girl; so at first she tries to stop this behavior, but eventually it grows on her. Anne gets into all kinds of troubles, making mistakes as she transition from unwanted, uneducated, accident prone girl; to a confident, loved, intelligent, and wonderful woman.
I recommend this book for Austen fans as Anne Shirley is very similar to Fanny Price, Marianne Dashwood, Catherine Morland, and a little of Mr. Darcy. Like Fanny, Anne didn’t grow up as a member of the household in a regular way, often both girls were treated as higher than a servant but not a “real daughter”; that is until Fanny’s aunt and uncle see how much she means to them and is a part of their family; along with Anne finally finding a home in Green Gables.
Like Marianne and Catherine, Anne is a huge fan of reading and a romantic with an overactive imagination. She, like Marianne and Catherine, often has these romantic impulses get in the way of her common sense. Anne does many things, but her most “romantic impulse” is pretending to be The Lady of Shallot and almost drowning in a boat. Marianne also participated in many romantic notions and Catherine’s overactive imagination caused her to suspect Mr. Tilney’s father, General Tilney, of killing Mrs Tilney.
I know a lot of people compare Anne to Elizabeth because both have their pride wounded when they receive an insult about their appearance but to me I think Anne is more similar to Mr. Darcy as both’s temper would be described as:
A lot of people use the interaction between Anne and Gilbert, (him cracking a joke calling her carrots and she smacking him over the head with her slate and from that moment on thinking of him as an enemy)-to compare Anne and Elizabeth Bennet; and while I can see why they would do so I think you could use that same interaction to compare Anne to Marianne. Anne dreams of a romantic hero who is tall, dark, and handsome; Gilbert fits the bill but while it is obvious to us Anne can’t see it as all she has is her wounded pride. Marianne is just as prideful, choosing to dislike Colonel Brandon because Mrs. Jennings wanted to pair them up; and she is insulted that Mrs. Jennings would dare think to do such a thing for Marianne with someone so “old”. Even though Colonel Brandon fits Marianne’s idea of what a man should be, she can’t see past her own wounded pride.
One of my original posts was to share my view on a Bookriot article which compared Jane Austen characters to L. M Montgomery’s, as I disagree with the author. In the article it compared Gilbert to Mr. Knightley, but I don’t see Gilbert and Mr. Knightley being the most similar characters as Gilbert never tried to “help” improve Anne because no one else cared about her moral state. Unlike Emma, Anne had many adults ( Miss Stacy, Mrs. Lynda, Marilla, the pastor’s wife, Matthew, the Barrys, etc) who cared about encourahing her but also helping her grow into a fully developed person; so Anne’s love interest wouldn’t be one who would take on that role. Instead to me, Gilbert is more similar to a Jane Austen character that loves the girl and accepts her, and enjoys her silly qualities and romantic notions. I think a better comparison of Gilbert can be made to Mr. Darcy, (in the way he keeps loving her and tries his best to improve his character and hoping she will see it); but I would say Gilbert is much closer to Mr. Tilney or Colonel Brandon. Both Mr. Tilney and Gilbert have joking sides and are willing to be imaginative but not quite as much as Anne or Catherine. Both, while having these vibrant personalities also choose professions were they have to be a bit more serious; Gilbert with becoming a doctor and Tilney a minister. Both men encourage imagination to a point, realizing there has to be a cap such as Gilbert telling Anne that her boat ride as Eleanor wasn’t the best thought out plan; and Tilney warning Catherine to be wary of letting her thoughts run away with her as they could have serious consequences. Both men never try and change the woman they love but embrace her romantic side.
Gilbert and Colonel Brandon both have had great tragedies in their lives that caused their dreams to not come to fruition. Both are older than the women they fall for, but also encourage them and don’t want to crush their fantastical and imaginative sides; instead loving that about them.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know below.
Either way I strongly recommend this book and the other novels in the Anne of Green Gables series for Jane Austen fans.
For more on Anne of Green Gables, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables
For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Anna and the Duke