Reread of The Last Four Harry Potter Novels: My Thoughts

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

"I think you may be a kindred spirit after all."

When I was a kid, I went through an intense season of Anne of Green Gables fandom. I checked them out so often from the public library that my mom noticed, and at Christmas I received a boxed set. I read and reread those stories, wanting to live in that vibrant world of flowers and imagination and scholarly ambition and friendship.

(Especially friendship, to my shy little self.)

Anne of green gables

I’m not sure the last time I read them—when I was 12 or 13, I suppose. Quite often I’ve thought about rereading them, but frankly I was scared: What if I discovered there was something I didn’t notice as a kid that I can’t abide as an adult (like…maybe they are racist?)

On Christmas Eve (YES! I am SO BEHIND in my book reviews that I’m writing this five months later; I only listened for a couple of hours in December so the majority of this one was read in January and thus I am putting it on my 2023 list) I was scrolling for an audiobook to listen to and noticed that the first book in the series was available…so I just decided to try.

I ended up listening to both Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea in January. Here’s my take after rereading these childhood favorites 35-something years later.

My fears were mostly unfounded. I didn’t finish and think wow, my childhood self was clueless. They aren’t racist—mostly because they are all about white people, even though P. E. Island did have an indigenous population. Some of the writing is dated (“she ejaculated” is written more than once, instead of “she said”).

But mostly I just loved being immersed in Anne’s world again. The struggles are real but there is a gentleness there that comforted me. I found little versions of that young reader I used to be and—well, maybe this sounds wooo-wooo, but it was healing to my inner child, to reread these stories. I could understand my introverted, anxious (except we didn’t call it that in the 70s; I was “nervous”), lonely self better. Do I still love flowers because Anne Shirley loved them, or did I love Anne Shirley because she also loved flowers? I don’t know, but I do know that young person I used to be read these books not just to read something but because I felt accepted there. I’m glad I found them.

One thing that stood out to me is how much this is a women-based story. Aside from Matthew and a bit of Gilbert, Anne’s world is influenced by women: Marilla, Rachel Lynde (why do we always say her last name?), Miss Stacy, Mrs. Allan, Josephine Barry, Lavender Lewis, and of course her friends. She is surrounded by women who share their values with her, encourage her to fulfill her potential, take care of her, and love her because of (not in spite of) who she is. I don’t think as a kid I could have put that into words, but it is another thing that made me love them. Do I love women-based stories because of Green Gables, or did I love Green Gables because it is women-based?

I didn’t feel pulled to keep on with the series, but I’m glad I reread these two books because of the way they reminded me to be more connected to the traits I had as a kid that are still a huge part of who I am.


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