December 12, 2014

Musings On Anne: Six Thoughts from My Umpteenth Reread

Musings on Anne of Green Gables: Six Thoughts from My Umpteenth Reread

We read Anne of Green Gables for the YABMC in November, and of course I couldn't stop there. I'm now halfway through Anne's House of Dreams. It's crazy, since I've read the series at least a half-dozen times, and most recently I re-read them all in spring 2011; but I feel like I'm noticing new things again.

  • So much death! Babies die, children are orphaned, daughters have to care for widowed mothers. It's really kind of horrifying when you think about how many people actually die in these books. But L.M. Montgomery presents it so matter-of-factly (and accurately for the era), that it doesn't seem shocking.
  • Family was a big deal. This plays out both positively and negatively. Positively: in spite of all that death, children were cared for, and raised by distant relatives. You could count on family connections to prevent starvation and provide basic needs (although perhaps not actual affection, just 'duty'). 
  • But it was impossible to escape family connections. Mrs. Lynde says something in Anne of the Island about Sloanes being good people, but just unable to overcome their "Sloaneishness" and that sense of family bias (perhaps most noticeable in the Pringles of Sunnyside!) pervades all the books. Which makes you realize just how much Anne stands out as an orphan, without known connections.
  • L.M. Montgomery didn't write the books sequentially (which I learned in this article which someone posted in the YABMC Facebook group). And now that I know it, it's SO glaringly obvious! Anne's House of Dreams picks up right where Anne of the Island left off -- people keep referring to Roy Gardiner, and how they're glad that Anne chose Gilbert Blythe instead, which is super weird considering that for the three years of Windy Poplars she and Gilbert are happily engaged. And then surely she would've invited Rebecca Dew and the widows to her wedding -- except that she hadn't "met" them yet, and those adventures were written later.
  • I relate so much to Anne. I also was a bookish, imaginative kid who talked way too much, and whose tongue got her in a lot of trouble. (And, of course, my middle name is Anne!) While reading Anne of Avonlea I kept laughing, just remembering myself in some very similar situations.
  • Life was a lot of work. Most of the food was actually grown/processed by Marilla, laundry was done by hand, trips into town for supplies could take all day. Thank goodness for modern conveniences!

Have you reread an old favorite recently? 
Are you also an Anne fan?

P.S. A couple of weeks ago a picture of me reading Anne of Green Gables ended up on Buzzfeed, which is super random and funny. (Funnier: it accompanies a story about a mental institution which makes it sound like *I* was in a mental hospital.)