Kindred Spirits, Bosom Friends, Wild Imagination and Puffed Sleeves! 

Today I was helping a lovely 11 year old customer at my library look for a book she wanted to read after watching the movie adaptation on DVD and loving it so much she rewatched it every day for the 28 days she had the DVD on loan from the library. Yes, that’s right, she watched Anne of Green Gables 28 times! Now that is what I call dedication!

Is Anne of Green Gables a Classic?

I am a keen fan of Anne of Green Gables, reading the book and watching the movies on a regular basis growing up.  Yet it surprised me as I grew older how there seemed to be an unseen divide in opinion on whether Anne of Green Gables is a classic…or not.  People seem to either like it or dislike it with not much common ground inbetween. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with having an active imagination – if anything we should be encouraging this in our current reality.

Personal Connection to Anne’s Character

Anne of Green Gables will always have a special place on my bookshelf no matter where I go or live. As a girl, I could relate to Anne in so many ways that I sometimes thought I was Anne.  At school I, with lovely long locks of strawberry blonde hair, knew exactly what it was like to be teased over my hair colour.  Some days I would be called nasty names, other days my hair would be yanked by a bully.  Although I admittedly never resorted to dying my hair (especially not with a dye from a peddler promising raven black results…!), I sometimes lost my temper during such incidents. However I learnt that losing my temper never ends well and I learnt to keep it under control.  Watching Anne smash that slate over Gilbert’s head after being called “Carrot” one too many times, taught me that it was OK to stand up for myself to bullies, but that it wasn’t OK to whack someone over the head because of it, no matter how tempting (or entertaining!) it may have been. Instead I tend to imagine myself whacking the slate over the offending person’s head with much amusement that the ensuing chuckle to myself is enough to calm me down!

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Gilbert Blythe yanking on Anne’s hair whilst calling her “Carrot”…

The Outfits

Oh and how I would imagine myself wearing such beautiful dresses/blouses and skirts that swished as I walked, although I never quite liked the puffed sleeves! My favourites would have to be all 4 in the below image, although I never quite understood what Anne saw in those puffed sleeves! But nevertheless she looked absolutely beautiful (others may say somewhat ridiculous) in that dress bought with love from darling Matthew. But the best costume scene? Well that would have to be falling in the mud chasing Dolly the cow! Uh-Oh!

Matthew!

I loved Matthew and his softness towards Anne. Matthew was such a kind, gentle soul who I believe adored Anne as though she were his real daughter.  The dress (even though he bought all those other commodities including a rake and several bags of brown sugar first before braving up to ask about purchasing the blue puffed sleeve dress in the window), showed that Matthew quietly understood the importance to Anne to have a dress with puffed sleeves to wear to the event with her bosom friend and fellow kindred spirit,  Diana.  As for the pearls – that was pure love.  I bawled my eyes out when he passed away – both reading the book and watching the movie.  I’ll let you all in on a secret: I still do! 

ann with matthew

Pursuing Study Whilst Helping Marilla

I know many people were critical about Anne’s decision to stay with Marilla at Green Gables after Matthew’s death, but to me it felt like the most obvious decision for Anne to make.  Green Gables was her HOME. After going through the system for years, not knowing one situation to the next, to finally being part of a family, loved, and having a home, I can understand why she wouldn’t want Marilla to sell the house due to poor eyesight – she wasn’t ready to lose/say goodbye to her home.  She did a selfless act – which I believe made the bond between her and Marilla so much stronger – but she still pursued her study and achieved great success.

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Kindred Spirits!

But wait! We can’t talk about Anne of Green Gables without mentioning the friendship with bosom friend and kindred spirit, Diana Barry.  From the currant wine incident, to the moment they jump onto poor Aunt Josephine’s bed in the guest room, these 2 girls show just how important it is to have at least one solid friend in life. In the films with Megan Follows, Anne and Diana, during schooling and life, were always there for one another, supporting and caring for each other, even searching for the other’s spouse whilst searching for her own during the war at the front. Admittedly I have only read the first 3 books however my local bookstore has started stocking the series again in nice fresh covers so will be investing in the remaining 5 books shortly.  Because as much as I love the 1980’s movie adaptations with Megan Follows as Anne, Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla, and Jonathan Crombie as Gil, it is a wide known fact that books are always better and I want to see if this remains the case with Anne!

Imagination Is A Powerful Tool

Anne teaches us that imagination is a powerful and valuable tool and not to be dismissed as far-fetched and crazy.  Sure, it may mean that you get a little distracted at hand and as a result a mouse lands in the food, or you nearly drown from a leaky boat, but hey, you only live once and Anne lived hers to the fullest. Heck, she even climbed and balanced on a roof!! Anne teaches us that its OK to stand up for yourself, but try not to smash a slate over your future husband’s head! Impulsiveness can help make life so much fuller and interesting, but it can also land you into strife! Keep that in mind next time you make the split-second decision to race your best friend into the spare bedroom and jump onto the bed. You wouldn’t want to accidentally scare your best friend’s aunt to near death! Or accidentally sell a cow that does not belong to you!!! Anne made it cool to be smart, especially when it meant saving Diana’s baby sister Minnie May’s life! As a teacher she was kind and caring and knew how to fight her own battles! She knows how to be strong willed, determined and independent yet still be loving and supportive.

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Escaping Reality

But the best part about Anne of Green Gables?  That would be the fact that within an instant of opening up the pages of my well-read copy of the book or turning on the DVD, I am instantly transported into the picturesque setting of Prince Edward Island.  If I am ever in need of escaping reality, Anne of Green Gables is always one of the few titles I instantly go to without a second thought.  She will never be too “old” or “dated” or “out of trend” for me.  I have always been, and always will be, an avid fan of Anne of Green Gables.  Megan Follows will always be Anne, Colleen Dewhurst will always be Marilla, Jonathan Crombie will always be Gilbert, no other adaptation will come close, in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, I am quite happy to give other adaptations a chance, however growing up with the 1980s films will mean that they will always have a special place in my house.

Is Anne of Green Gables a Classic?

That’s for you to decide. Me? I have and always will consider it to be a classic, for both children and adults.  Anne of Green Gables will always have a special place on my bookshelf no matter where I go or live. Anne taught me that it is OK to have an imagination.  She also showed that not only could she be kind and caring, she also knew how to fight her own battles! She inspired me at an impressionable age to be strong willed, determined and independent, yet still be loving and supportive.

~ The Humming Librarian ~

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