Anne of Green Gables

Book Review

So, Anne of Green Gables takes place on Prince Edward Island. I did not realize this when I started reading it, in my continuing journey to fill in the gaps in my childhood reading. I spent too much time reading Voltaire and not enough time reading Nancy Drew, apparently.

Anyway, if you ask a Canadian, "Hey, did you know Anne of Green Gables happens in Canada?" you will not only watch a Canadian laugh until his sides ache, you'll also be asked in return, "Hey, did you know George Washington was the first president of the United States?" True story. I asked Jonathan.

My first impression of the book?

Holy crap, does Anne talk a lot. I understand how Matthew would become endeared to her, as he didn't speak much and was fascinated by Anne. I could also understand anyone would would ask Anne to just shut the f--- up. I don't know that I would have been able to stand how much she talks in real life.

Of course, maybe I could have. There's something attractive about a dynamic, outgoing, care-free, focused woman.

...

Nah.

The second impression I had about the book is just how much Classic Stoicism pervades this book. Every other paragraph contains a comment or action that is completely and totally "no sense in complaining, do what needs to be done." Why, oh why, don't we have that attitude now? Why oh why has this ability to do the work been lost in our times?

I enjoyed the book. I won't be continuing the series, as there are a large number of other books I'd rather read next, but I am glad I have read this one. This book is worth reading.

Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt. She thought in exclamation points.
Page 5

There’s never anybody to be had but those stupid, half-grown little French boys; and as soon as you do get one broke into your ways and taught something he’s up and off to the lobster canneries or the States. At first Matthew suggested getting a Home boy. But I said ‘no’ flat to that. ‘They may be all right — I’m not saying they’re not — but no London street Arabs for me,’ I said. ‘Give me a native born at least. There’ll be a risk, no matter who we get. But I’ll feel easier in my mind and sleep sounder at nights if we get a born Canadian.’
Page 6

"Home Boy" What an odd phrasing. When I went to look it up, however, the original said, "getting a Barnado Boy."

Curiouser and curiouser.

If you had asked my advice in the matter — which you didn’t do, Marilla — I’d have said for mercy’s sake not to think of such a thing, that’s what.”
Page 7

And as for the risk, there’s risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world. There’s risks in people’s having children of their own if it comes to that — they don’t always turn out well.
Page 7

"I asked her to go into the ladies’ waiting room, but she informed me gravely that she preferred to stay outside. ‘There was more scope for imagination,’ she said. She’s a case, I should say.”
Page 10

"But I just went to work and imagined that I had on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress — because when you are imagining you might as well imagine something worth while — and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes, and a gold watch, and kid gloves and boots."
Page 14

"She said I must have asked her a thousand already. I suppose I had, too, but how you going to find out about things if you don’t ask questions?"
Page 14

"Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive — it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it?"
Page 14

"Dreams don’t often come true, do they? Wouldn’t it be nice if they did?"
Page 16

“I suppose — we could hardly be expected to keep her.”

“I should say not. What good would she be to us?”

“We might be some good to her,” said Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.
Page 30

"I’m not in the depths of despair this morning. I never can be in the morning. Isn’t it a splendid thing that there are mornings? But I feel very sad.

But the worst of imagining things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”
Page 33

"All sorts of mornings are interesting, don’t you think? You don’t know what’s going to happen through the day, and there’s so much scope for imagination."
Page 33

"It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”
Page 34

"There is no use in loving things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it’s so hard to keep from loving things, isn’t it?"
Page 35

“I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up firmly."
Page 39

"I’ve never brought up a child, especially a girl, and I dare say I’ll make a terrible mess of it. But I’ll do my best."
Page 49

"And I’m afraid I’ll never be able to think out another one as good. Somehow, things never are so good when they’re thought out a second time. Have you ever noticed that?”
Page 57

Mrs. Rachel was not often sick and had a well-defined contempt for people who were; but grippe, she asserted, was like no other illness on earth and could only be interpreted as one of the special visitations of Providence.
Page 65

"Everyone else is a baby, but I am strong." Everyone's a hypocrite.

Where was the wholesome punishment upon which she, Marilla, had plumed herself? Anne had turned it into a species of positive pleasure. Good Mrs. Lynde, not being overburdened with perception, did not see this. She only perceived that Anne had made a very thorough apology and all resentment vanished from her kindly, if somewhat officious, heart.
Page 77

“But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself,” persisted Anne mournfully.
Page 82

“Oh, yes; and I answered a lot of questions. Miss Rogerson asked ever so many. I don’t think it was fair for her to do all the asking. There were lots I wanted to ask her, but I didn’t like to because I didn’t think she was a kindred spirit.
Page 85

"Now, don’t be looking I told-you-so, Matthew. That’s bad enough in a woman, but it isn’t to be endured in a man. I’m perfectly willing to own up that I’m glad I consented to keep the child and that I’m getting fond of her, but don’t you rub it in, Matthew Cuthbert.”
Page 92

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.”
Page 97

"She was leaning out to pick water lilies and if Mr. Andrews hadn’t caught her by her sash just in the nick of time she’d fallen in and prob’ly been drowned. I wish it had been me. It would have been such a romantic experience to have been nearly drowned. It would be such a thrilling tale to tell."
Page 108

No, that would be a horrible tale to tell, that of the drowned. Though bad experiences do make good stories.

“WHAT a splendid day!” said Anne, drawing a long breath. “Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one. And it’s splendider still to have such a lovely way to go to school by, isn’t it?”
Page 109

"He told his mother — his mother, mind you — that you were the smartest girl in school. That’s better than being good looking.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Anne, feminine to the core."
Page 113

“I’d rather be pretty than clever."
Page 114

Ugh, no.

Mr. Phillips stalked down the aisle and laid his hand heavily on Anne’s shoulder. “Anne Shirley, what does this mean?” he said angrily. Anne returned no answer. It was asking too much of flesh and blood to expect her to tell before the whole school that she had been called “carrots.” Gilbert it was who spoke up stoutly. “It was my fault Mr. Phillips. I teased her.” Mr. Phillips paid no heed to Gilbert.
Page 116

Of course, it is the girl's fault. Always the girl's fault. No one ever believes the girl, EVEN WHEN THE BOY SAYS HE DID IT.

Anne stood there the rest of the afternoon with that legend above her. She did not cry or hang her head. Anger was still too hot in her heart for that and it sustained her amid all her agony of humiliation.
Page 116

“You mustn’t mind Gilbert making fun of your hair,” she said soothingly. “Why, he makes fun of all the girls. He laughs at mine because it’s so black."
Page 117

WAIT. NO. Just because he's an ass to everyone doesn't mean the behaviour shoudl be condoned. He should stop making fun of everyone's hair.

Mr. Phillips’s brief reforming energy was over; he didn’t want the bother of punishing a dozen pupils; but it was necessary to do something to save his word, so he looked about for a scapegoat and found it in Anne, who had dropped into her seat, gasping for breath, with a forgotten lily wreath hanging askew over one ear and giving her a particularly rakish and disheveled appearance. “Anne Shirley, since you seem to be so fond of the boys’ company we shall indulge your taste for it this afternoon,” he said sarcastically. “Take those flowers out of your hair and sit with Gilbert Blythe.”

The other boys snickered. Diana, turning pale with pity, plucked the wreath from Anne’s hair and squeezed her hand. Anne stared at the master as if turned to stone.

“Did you hear what I said, Anne?” queried Mr. Phillips sternly.

“Yes, sir,” said Anne slowly “but I didn’t suppose you really meant it.”

“I assure you I did” — still with the sarcastic inflection which all the children, and Anne especially, hated. It flicked on the raw. “Obey me at once.”

For a moment Anne looked as if she meant to disobey. Then, realizing that there was no help for it, she rose haughtily, stepped across the aisle, sat down beside Gilbert Blythe,
Page 118

So, the boys all do the same thing as the girl, BUT THE GIRL IS PUNISHED.

In case you're wondering, this happened to me a lot growing up as a kid. I did the same things my older brother did, but I was punished for the actions, and his behaviour was explained as "oh, boys will be boys!"

Fucking hate the double standard crap.

"She had a fearful headache all day yesterday. Mrs. Barry is so indignant. She will never believe but what I did it on purpose.”

“I should think she would better punish Diana for being so greedy as to drink three glassfuls of anything,” said Marilla shortly.
Page 133

Mrs. Barry was a woman of strong prejudices and dislikes, and her anger was of the cold, sullen sort which is always hardest to overcome.
Page 134

The rivalry between them was soon apparent; it was entirely good natured on Gilbert’s side; but it is much to be feared that the same thing cannot be said of Anne, who had certainly an unpraiseworthy tenacity for holding grudges. She was as intense in her hatreds as in her loves. She would not stoop to admit that she meant to rival Gilbert in schoolwork, because that would have been to acknowledge his existence which Anne persistently ignored; but the rivalry was there and honors fluctuated between them.
Page 142

I feel I understand this Anne character.

Mr. Phillips might not be a very good teacher; but a pupil so inflexibly determined on learning as Anne was could hardly escape making progress under any kind of teacher.
Page 142

Mrs. Lynde says Canada is going to the dogs the way things are being run at Ottawa and that it’s an awful warning to the electors. She says if women were allowed to vote we would soon see a blessed change.
Page 147

I giggled at this.

It’s all very well to say resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you can’t get the key.
Page 148

You must just imagine my relief, doctor, because I can’t express it in words. You know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words.”

“Yes, I know,” nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he were thinking some things about her that couldn’t be expressed in words.
Page 150

“Oh, Matthew, isn’t it a wonderful morning? The world looks like something God had just imagined for His own pleasure, doesn’t it? Those trees look as if I could blow them away with a breath — pouf! I’m so glad I live in a world where there are white frosts, aren’t you?"
Page 151

"But I hate to stay home, for Gil — some of the others will get head of the class, and it’s so hard to get up again — although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction you have when you do get up, haven’t you?”
Page 151

“I think you ought to let Anne go,” repeated Matthew firmly. Argument was not his strong point, but holding fast to his opinion certainly was. Marilla gave a gasp of helplessness and took refuge in silence.
Page 157

Spring had come once more to Green Gables — the beautiful capricious, reluctant Canadian spring, lingering along through April and May in a succession of sweet, fresh, chilly days, with pink sunsets and miracles of resurrection and growth.
Page 167

“Oh, Marilla, how can you be so cruel?” sobbed Anne. “What would you feel like if a white thing did snatch me up and carry me off?”

“I’ll risk it,” said Marilla unfeelingly. “You know I always mean what I say. I’ll cure you of imagining ghosts into places. March, now.”
Page 172

"I do feel dreadfully sad, Marilla. But one can’t feel quite in the depths of despair with two months’ vacation before them, can they, Marilla?
Page 176

"I’m very glad they’ve called Mr. Allan. I liked him because his sermon was interesting and he prayed as if he meant it and not just as if he did it because he was in the habit of it."
Page 178

"Mrs. Allan said we ought always to try to influence other people for good. She talked so nice about everything. I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs. Allan’s isn’t, and I’d like to be a Christian if I could be one like her. I wouldn’t want to be one like Mr. Superintendent Bell.”

“It’s very naughty of you to speak so about Mr. Bell,” said Marilla severely. “Mr. Bell is a real good man.”

“Oh, of course he’s good,” agreed Anne, “but he doesn’t seem to get any comfort out of it.
Page 179

“Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just when you especially want them to be good,” sighed Anne,
Page 180

“Can I fix the table with ferns and wild roses?”

“I think that’s all nonsense,” sniffed Marilla. “In my opinion it’s the eatables that matter and not flummery decorations.”

“Mrs. Barry had her table decorated,” said Anne, who was not entirely guiltless of the wisdom of the serpent, “and the minister paid her an elegant compliment. He said it was a feast for the eye as well as the palate.”
Page 182

“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

“I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla. “I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.”

“Yes, and well I know it,” admitted Anne mournfully. “But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice.”

“I don’t know as that’s much benefit when you’re always making new ones.”

“Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.”
Page 184

God I hope so. I keep making them, too.

For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All “spirit and fire and dew,” as she was, the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate. Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows.
Page 187

Daring was the fashionable amusement among the Avonlea small fry just then. It had begun among the boys, but soon spread to the girls, and all the silly things that were done in Avonlea that summer because the doers thereof were “dared” to do them would fill a book by themselves.
Page 193

In his arms he carried Anne, whose head lay limply against his shoulder. At that moment Marilla had a revelation. In the sudden stab of fear that pierced her very heart she realized what Anne had come to mean to her. She would have admitted that she liked Anne — nay, that she was very fond of Anne. But now she knew as she hurried wildly down the slope that Anne was dearer to her than anything else on earth.
Page 196

Those two were the best of friends and Matthew thanked his stars many a time and oft that he had nothing to do with bringing her up. That was Marilla’s exclusive duty; if it had been his he would have been worried over frequent conflicts between inclination and said duty. As it was, he was free to, “spoil Anne” — Marilla’s phrasing — as much as he liked. But it was not such a bad arrangement after all; a little “appreciation” sometimes does quite as much good as all the conscientious “bringing up” in the world.
Page 206

Folks that has brought up children know that there’s no hard and fast method in the world that’ll suit every child. But them as never have think it’s all as plain and easy as Rule of Three — just set your three terms down so fashion, and the sum’ll work out correct. But flesh and blood don’t come under the head of arithmetic and that’s where Marilla Cuthbert makes her mistake. I suppose she’s trying to cultivate a spirit of humility in Anne by dressing her as she does; but it’s more likely to cultivate envy and discontent.
Page 211

"It’s at times like this I’m sorry I’m not a model little girl; and I always resolve that I will be in future. But somehow it’s hard to carry out your resolutions when irresistible temptations come. Still, I really will make an extra effort after this.”
Page 214

“She’s a bright child, Matthew. And she looked real nice too. I’ve been kind of opposed to this concert scheme, but I suppose there’s no real harm in it after all. Anyhow, I was proud of Anne tonight, although I’m not going to tell her so.” “Well now, I was proud of her and I did tell her so ‘fore she went upstairs,” said Matthew.
Page 216

“I won’t mind writing that composition when its time comes,” sighed Diana. “I can manage to write about the woods, but the one we’re to hand in Monday is terrible. The idea of Miss Stacy telling us to write a story out of our own heads!”

“Why, it’s as easy as wink,” said Anne.

“It’s easy for you because you have an imagination,” retorted Diana, “but what would you do if you had been born without one? I suppose you have your composition all done?” Anne nodded, trying hard not to look virtuously complacent and failing miserably.
Page 220

"All the girls do pretty well. Ruby Gillis is rather sentimental. She puts too much lovemaking into her stories and you know too much is worse than too little. Jane never puts any because she says it makes her feel so silly when she had to read it out loud. Jane’s stories are extremely sensible. Then Diana puts too many murders into hers. She says most of the time she doesn’t know what to do with the people so she kills them off to get rid of them. I mostly always have to tell them what to write about, but that isn’t hard for I’ve millions of ideas.”

“I think this story-writing business is the foolishest yet,” scoffed Marilla. “You’ll get a pack of nonsense into your heads and waste time that should be put on your lessons. Reading stories is bad enough but writing them is worse.”

“But we’re so careful to put a moral into them all, Marilla,” explained Anne. “I insist upon that. All the good people are rewarded and all the bad ones are suitably punished.
Page 222

“Yes, it’s green,” moaned Anne. “I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. But now I know it’s ten times worse to have green hair. Oh, Marilla, you little know how utterly wretched I am.”

“I little know how you got into this fix, but I mean to find out,” said Marilla. “Come right down to the kitchen — it’s too cold up here — and tell me just what you’ve done. I’ve been expecting something queer for some time. You haven’t got into any scrape for over two months, and I was sure another one was due. Now, then, what did you do to your hair?”
Page 228

Marilla had done her work thoroughly and it had been necessary to shingle the hair as closely as possible. The result was not becoming, to state the case as mildly as may be. Anne promptly turned her glass to the wall. “I’ll never, never look at myself again until my hair grows,” she exclaimed passionately. Then she suddenly righted the glass. “Yes, I will, too. I’d do penance for being wicked that way. I’ll look at myself every time I come to my room and see how ugly I am.
Page 231

Yeah. I understand the sentiment, even if I can't feel the sentiment. Shave the head so that not having hair doesn't bother you, that's my belief.

I prayed, Mrs. Allan, most earnestly, but I didn’t shut my eyes to pray, for I knew the only way God could save me was to let the flat float close enough to one of the bridge piles for me to climb up on it.
Page 236

It was proper to pray, but I had to do my part by watching out and right well I knew.
Page 237

God helps those who help themselves. The praying doesn't do crap without the action to follow it up.

It’s always wrong to do anything you can’t tell the minister’s wife. It’s as good as an extra conscience to have a minister’s wife for your friend.
Page 248

"That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.”
Page 248

I didn’t mind promising not to read any more like it, but it was agonizing to give back that book without knowing how it turned out.
Page 256

It’s really wonderful, Marilla, what you can do when you’re truly anxious to please a certain person.”
Page 257

But we can’t have things perfect in this imperfect world, as Mrs. Lynde says. Mrs. Lynde isn’t exactly a comforting person sometimes, but there’s no doubt she says a great many very true things.
Page 259

Ruby says she will only teach for two years after she gets through, and then she intends to be married. Jane says she will devote her whole life to teaching, and never, never marry, because you are paid a salary for teaching, but a husband won’t pay you anything, and growls if you ask for a share in the egg and butter money. I expect Jane speaks from mournful experience, for Mrs. Lynde says that her father is a perfect old crank, and meaner than second skimmings.
Page 259

"But mostly when I’m with Mrs. Lynde I feel desperately wicked and as if I wanted to go and do the very thing she tells me I oughtn’t to do. I feel irresistibly tempted to do it. Now, what do you think is the reason I feel like that? Do you think it’s because I’m really bad and unregenerate?”

“If you are I guess I am too, Anne, for Rachel often has that very effect on me. I sometimes think she’d have more of an influence for good, as you say yourself, if she didn’t keep nagging people to do right. There should have been a special commandment against nagging."
Page 267

“It’s nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one’s heart, like treasures. I don’t like to have them laughed at or wondered over."
Page 269

“No, I wasn’t crying over your piece,” said Marilla, who would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff.
Page 292

Boys were to her, when she thought about them at all, merely possible good comrades. If she and Gilbert had been friends she would not have cared how many other friends he had nor with whom he walked. She had a genius for friendship; girl friends she had in plenty; but she had a vague consciousness that masculine friendship might also be a good thing to round out one’s conceptions of companionship and furnish broader standpoints of judgment and comparison.
Page 300

"I’ve done my best and I begin to understand what is meant by the ‘joy of the strife.’ Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing."
Page 304

For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement.
Page 305

“There — there — don’t cry so, dearie. It can’t bring him back. It — it — isn’t right to cry so. I knew that today, but I couldn’t help it then. He’d always been such a good, kind brother to me — but God knows best.”

“Oh, just let me cry, Marilla,” sobbed Anne. “The tears don’t hurt me like that ache did. Stay here for a little while with me and keep your arm round me — so. I couldn’t have Diana stay, she’s good and kind and sweet — but it’s not her sorrow — she’s outside of it and she couldn’t come close enough to my heart to help me. It’s our sorrow — yours and mine. Oh, Marilla, what will we do without him?”

“We’ve got each other, Anne. I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here — if you’d never come. Oh, Anne, I know I’ve been kind of strict and harsh with you maybe — but you mustn’t think I didn’t love you as well as Matthew did, for all that. I want to tell you now when I can. It’s never been easy for me to say things out of my heart, but at times like this it’s easier. I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood and you’ve been my joy and comfort ever since you came to Green Gables.”
Page 314

Anne, new to grief, thought it almost sad that it could be so — that they could go on in the old way without Matthew. She felt something like shame and remorse when she discovered that the sunrises behind the firs and the pale pink buds opening in the garden gave her the old inrush of gladness when she saw them - that life still called to her with many insistent voices.
Page 314

Hardest thing about death is that life goes on.

“Josie is a Pye,” said Marilla sharply, “so she can’t help being disagreeable. I suppose people of that kind serve some useful purpose in society, but I must say I don’t know what it is any more than I know the use of thistles. Is Josie going to teach?”
Page 316

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