Vintage Post: Favorite Books - Anne of Green Gables

Originally posted in 2006, if you can believe it.  Tempus fugit, yo.

This is the first in a regular series that I intend to do from time to time – a discussion of some of my favorite books. How could I start with anything but Anne?

Anne of Green Gables was the first book that I remember falling in love with – the first time I fell into a world and became obsessed with it. I first read Anne in third grade, and then tore through the rest of the series. I was lucky enough to be growing up at a time when they reissued all of L.M. Montgomery’s other work (seriously, because a lot of it is out of print now), and I bought them all and loved them all.* My friends and I used to play Anne in the playground. I even convinced my parents to take me to Prince Edward Island on vacation – which rocked. PEI is gorgeous, even without all that awesome Anne. You know, how there are just some books that you just love – that are more than just books, but are part of who you are? These books were my books. They are my comfort books. Except for a small period of time (say from 13 to 16) when I was too cool for school and embarrassed by how into the books I had been, they have and still do serve as my comfort books. I have read everything that Montgomery has written until countless times. Read them until the spines have cracked, and the books are being held together with scotch tape and the scotch tape is fraying.

Except Rilla of Ingleside, the last book in the Anne series, set during World War One. It focuses on the homefront, and how Anne’s family (particularly her daughter Rilla) dealt with the War. When Anne’s son, Walter, died in the trenches I was devastated. Oh, Walter. He was dreamy, and artistic, and wrote poetry and was sensitive and I was in love. I never cried when Beth died in Little Women, I remained dry-eyed at the end of Charlotte’s Web, but when Walter died, I was devastated. I had a mad literary crush on Walter, and it just broke my dumb little heart. I say dumb, because on re-reading, it is abundantly clear that ol’ Walter is not long for this world. The books were written out of chronological order, so book 6 (Rainbow Valley) actually was written after Rilla, and the foreshadowing, she is not so subtle. Like along the lines of “not all of them were meant to make it to adulthood.” But I was in fifth grade, and I didn’t know about foreshadowing, and it hit me hard. So hard, that, to this day I have not still re-read Rilla of Ingleside.

I have tried, but it makes my stomach hurt. I just can’t do it. And it is just the kind of book I should love. 1) It’s by L.M. Montgomery, 2) it’s about World War One, a time period for which I have great nostalgic fondness (at least in part because my great-grandfather fought in the trenches – and was Canadian, no less – though that is a chicken-or-the-egg situation – maybe I am nostalgic for poor doomed poetic Walter Blythe), 3) its loaded with tragic doomed unrequited love – poor sad wasted Una who will have to go into “domestic science” because her true love is dead, etc., but it also 4) has a spunky Anne-like heroine in Rilla, who learns to outgrow selfishness and be a mature woman, etc. because she lived through the war. My kind of story, and yet, it remains sitting there, not re-read to this day.

Lordy, I am embarrassed by how weird this is. I feel like I should force myself to read the book. But I can’t. Maybe because if I don’t then it like it didn’t happen, and Walter will still be (fictionally) with us. Actually, the OLQOB and I once wrote a sequel in which the whole death was a big misunderstanding (a mistake – he was actually a POW, dontcha know), and it turned out happy. I was pretty embarrassed about that for a long time too, but I am over it, and now think of myself as the creator of famous, original pre-internet fan-fiction.

But beyond my Rilla neuroses, I love Montgomery’s work. The Blue Castle, A Tangled Web, the Emily books. Le sigh. I think that it might be time to do a re-read…

*Except Mistress Pat. That book is not so good. Seriously, what is Pat’s problem with growing up and leaving Silver Bush? Jingle was awesome and ready to marry her, yo. Lame, Pat. Very lame.

Categories: Favorite Books!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017