Some time ago I decided to revisit some of the books that I had read and enjoyed as a child/teenager. I started with Little Women and soon discovered that my memories of the book did not align with its reality – I hated its preachiness. This was quite a disappointment to me. I did recently read a biography of its author though which was fascinating – you can read what I thought here. I gather that the recent film is good – I have not seen it.
I moved on to What Katy Did and was repelled by the idea of disability as inspirational and suffering as making people more worthy. I enjoyed Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm a reasonable amount, although it had never been a favourite. I reread Pollyanna to see if it was as sickly and nauseating as I remembered – it was. And then I came to Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery and I was blown away by how engaging the book was and how amazingly funny it could be in places. This was a childhood favourite that didn’t let me down.
I’ve been reading on through the Anne series and have come to the third book which is Anne of the Island. It is necessary to say immediately that this isn’t as good as the first book – none of the sequels are. It isn’t as fresh and funny because Anne has grown up now and she really can’t get into the same situations as she did when she was an impetuous but well-meaning child. The author has tried to rectify this issue by introducing a new pair of orphans for Marilla to bring up and for their stories to be part of the narrative but it doesn’t completely work.
In this book Anne is at college earning her degree. She rooms with some old friends, makes a new one and enjoys college life. She is studying with Gilbert Blythe but becomes more and more annoyed with him for trying to take friendship on to a new level which she thinks that she isn’t ready for yet. It is obvious to the reader that she and Gilbert are made for one another but it is fun watching Anne avoid that issue for most of the book.
This is an engaging read because Anne is still a great character even if she has become more serious than before. It is a fascinating insight into a way of life in a college town as women are just beginning to take degrees. No one is particularly evil in this book and no one absolutely good. Anne makes mistakes but has a good heart and tries to do the right things. It is fun to catch up with characters from previous books and see what is happening.
I shall continue to read Anne’s story and hope that it keeps me engaged. I shall also continue to read more books that I loved as a childhood reader – Swallows and Amazons, Ballet Shoes, The Secret Garden and others are on my list.