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Old 02-16-2020, 05:18 AM   #16
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This is my first time reading the book and initially I too found Anne’s character very difficult to accept. She was simply too bouncy and cheerful for a child who had gone through a dreadful abusive childhood. Montgomery tries hard to make her character believable by giving us a whole chapter concerning Anne’s horrible past and showing her terror at the possibility of being farmed out again. But I don’t think it works. In the end I simply took Anne as given.

Once I did that I found a great deal to enjoy. The description of the locale and the natural surroundings gave a radiance to the book. The other characters were nicely portrayed and Anne did grow upon me as the story developed. I think I’ll read the sequels.

Just as a coda, I did read the “Emily of New Moon” series and in that case I found Emily to be a far more believable and complex character than Anne.
I do agree with you about the Emily books, fantasyfan. I think they are superior to this one. I have no desire to read any more of the Anne books though.

It is a very different experience to read a book like this one as an adult, having no warm recollections of reading it as a child. I suppose we all have books we love because we read them as children. So I think Bookworm-Girl's point about that attachment is very real. Those of us without that childhood experience of the book are in a different boat.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Montgomery did not write this as a children's book, although that is what it has become. I shall see if I can find the reference again.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:20 AM   #17
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As I know I said when this first came up, this was a childhood favorite of mine; I read it over and over and had it virtually memorized. I still retain huge chunks of the text.

I’ve found with some childhood favorites, the love remains for always. Even though as an adult reader I see the flaws, I can reread it with dual eyes, both critical eyes and the eyes of love, and it’s fun. Love does not alter. However, what I feared with Anne turned out to be true; a good memory collapsed under the weight of the reread.

I agree with those who found Anne flatly unbelievable. She’s appealing when we meet her, weird, fearful and defiant, but once we know her backstory, she’s not credible. It is tempting to like her because despite all her hardships, she has remained strong and true to her inherent sweetness, but it’s too much to swallow. Worse, it seems bolstered by turn of the last century notions of class, ethnicity and eugenics. Anne is what she is because her parents were nice people, Manila thinks. None of those nasty scrubwoman genes; nature conquers nurture.

I also don’t think the book is well-written. As noted by victoria, it’s a series of vignettes with no plot at all. There’s a lot of unrelated funny business and then hey, presto! Anne’s grown up! In fact, Manila has more of a character arc than Anne. It’s also overwritten; Montgomery has a flare for description, but I got tired of the purple prose and purple sunsets and I found myself skimming the nature bits. To an extent I know that was the taste of the time, but it’s a reason I think the book is dated and not great.

I found the book more interesting as a text than as a story, but that way love no longer remains and I’ve been thinking about it as an example of a genre; more later. I’ll add that I think my distaste is enhanced in that having read all the books (over and over) and knowing how Montgomery chooses to continue Anne’s story is deeply unsatisfying; there’s no way to make Anne an early feminist icon. That defiant child is beaten down into a very typical idealized self-sacrificing woman.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:49 AM   #18
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This was my third reading, and I found Montgomery’s description of daily life in the small farming community very interesting. There were many parallels with my own childhood. In particular, village life and characters, and also how every little brook and field had it’s own name and character. Granted I grew up just a few hours away from Cavendish (Avonlea) but there was a separation of half a century, and my community was primarily French Acadian. Maybe farming communities are similar, whenever and wherever they are.
I agree with that and I’m going to express the heretical to our Canadians belief that Anne has more in common with the New England of the US of its times than it does with Canada as a whole. The late nineteenth century hardscrabble economies of the North Atlantic I suspect transcended nationality, especially as the Maritimes were separated from the rest of Anglo Canada by the huge swath of Quebec. Much closer geographically, there also was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing even as evidenced in the text, with Islanders traveling to the US and “rich Americans” vacationing on the Island.
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Old 02-16-2020, 12:53 PM   #19
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You forget, issybird. The Maritimes are not strictly anglophone. In fact, New Brunswick is the only province with two official languages, and has a large (32%) Francophone minority. And while I'll agree that Anne probably resonates with New Englanders, it also resonates with much of the prairies. (And apparently resonates strongly with Japan, if the number of Japanese tourists is any indication!)
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:27 PM   #20
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Sorry Canadian cousins, but I have to be a dissenting voice.

The book is well enough written, but it is a fairy tale that Montgomery has written for herself because she had a wretched childhood, for which she certainly has my sympathy.

I found the book quite unbelievable. Anne was a child who for 11 years had been unloved and unwanted. She had quite obviously been ill-treated, and been a drudge. She received no education until she was put into the orphanage.

Yet this child was an optimistic chatterbox, prepared to express her feelings of despair when she thought she once again wasn’t wanted. Able to socialise with other children and be popular with them. Really?

I can accept that she could be extremely intelligent, pick up her lessons very quickly and learn how to interact with others. But all that confidence and social skill from the moment we meet her? I doubt it more than somewhat.
A Canadian cousin just has to weigh in here. I mostly agree with you Bookpossum , but I don’t think it’s quite as black and white as that. It’s true that Montgomery’s diaries contain a lot of heartache. But there were bright spots in her life too, and much of the Anne story was drawn from those happier memories and places.

Where I differ is on whether Anne could thrive in spite of her background. I think she’s idealized, but believable, (though outmoded now.) I worked with abused and neglected children for many years, and I learned that the world is full of resilient people. Research has shown the tremendous power that just one caring adult can make in a child’s life. Having a special talent, or an outside interest, or being born with a resilient temperament are also protective factors that can enable children to thrive.

(Edit I just wanted to add & acknowledge that of course, many children with Anne’s background of neglect and abuse don’t thrive, and do have lasting struggles with the issues you’ve described. But our history doesn’t have to be our destiny.)

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I don't believe Anne is meant to be realistic as read by an adult perspective or with a modern understanding of abuse/mental trauma/PTSD/etc. She's meant to be idealistic yet relatable and an aspirational role model for young children. She's a heroine, yet she's not sinless or flawless. She has her trials to overcome as she matures to be a young adult, but she's optimistic and resilient. The cozy, heart-warming aspect is why it has endured over 100 years, countless adaptations have been made, and those who read it in childhood can re-read it as an adult with the same happy feelings and nostalgia.
I see her this way too Bookworm_Girl. The proof is in the pudding, since the Anne has been a very important role model and inspired generations of children; at least girls. I’m not sure about boys?

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I agree with that and I’m going to express the heretical to our Canadians belief that Anne has more in common with the New England of the US of its times than it does with Canada as a whole. The late nineteenth century hardscrabble economies of the North Atlantic I suspect transcended nationality, especially as the Maritimes were separated from the rest of Anglo Canada by the huge swath of Quebec. Much closer geographically, there also was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing even as evidenced in the text, with Islanders traveling to the US and “rich Americans” vacationing on the Island.
That’s just wrong issybird! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that That’s not heretical to me. One side of my family came to the bottom tip of Nova Scotia from New England six generations ago, and the other side from Staten Island, NY, five generations ago. My siblings and I are the first to venture 300 km north into the province. That’s as much of Canada as we’ve ever penetrated. Most traffic was back and forth to “the States”, via the ferry. Many returned permanently; most went for work at one time or another. Even my grandparents’ produce was shipped to the States for sale. That was the norm when I grew up; Boston was the main city, not Halifax. Many people had little connection to the rest of the province, and nothing with the rest of Canada.

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Old 02-16-2020, 03:16 PM   #21
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As I know I said when this first came up, this was a childhood favorite of mine; I read it over and over and had it virtually memorized. I still retain huge chunks of the text.

I’ve found with some childhood favorites, the love remains for always. Even though as an adult reader I see the flaws, I can reread it with dual eyes, both critical eyes and the eyes of love, and it’s fun. Love does not alter. However, what I feared with Anne turned out to be true; a good memory collapsed under the weight of the reread.

I agree with those who found Anne flatly unbelievable. She’s appealing when we meet her, weird, fearful and defiant, but once we know her backstory, she’s not credible. It is tempting to like her because despite all her hardships, she has remained strong and true to her inherent sweetness, but it’s too much to swallow. Worse, it seems bolstered by turn of the last century notions of class, ethnicity and eugenics. Anne is what she is because her parents were nice people, Manila thinks. None of those nasty scrubwoman genes; nature conquers nurture.

I also don’t think the book is well-written. As noted by victoria, it’s a series of vignettes with no plot at all. There’s a lot of unrelated funny business and then hey, presto! Anne’s grown up! In fact, Manila has more of a character arc than Anne. It’s also overwritten; Montgomery has a flare for description, but I got tired of the purple prose and purple sunsets and I found myself skimming the nature bits. To an extent I know that was the taste of the time, but it’s a reason I think the book is dated and not great.

I found the book more interesting as a text than as a story, but that way love no longer remains and I’ve been thinking about it as an example of a genre; more later. I’ll add that I think my distaste is enhanced in that having read all the books (over and over) and knowing how Montgomery chooses to continue Anne’s story is deeply unsatisfying; there’s no way to make Anne an early feminist icon. That defiant child is beaten down into a very typical idealized self-sacrificing woman.
issybird I’m sorry to read you lost an old favourite! It makes we wish we hadn’t chosen the book.

I feel the same way about how Montgomery developed Anne’s story in later books. I read the first three books at aged 10 & 11, and loved them. I later read the rest of the series as a teenager, and was very disappointed. She just didn’t seem like Anne at all.

I decided to not read Montgomery’s diaries. I guess I’ve wanted to hang on to my childhood love of the story. But my sister has shared many things from them with me. I’ve gotten the impression that the person Anne becomes in the later books mimics the outward facade Montgomery had to play as a minister’s wife, especially in light of her husband’s hidden mental illness.

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You forget, issybird. The Maritimes are not strictly anglophone. In fact, New Brunswick is the only province with two official languages, and has a large (32%) Francophone minority. And while I'll agree that Anne probably resonates with New Englanders, it also resonates with much of the prairies. (And apparently resonates strongly with Japan, if the number of Japanese tourists is any indication!)
Very true CRussel. The story seems to have had universal appeal.

Your comments about Francophones sparked my interest, because most of my French Acadian neighbours had New England ties too, and I couldn’t see why, since they came here directly from France. That sent me digging and I found an interesting article explaining that when the 10,000 Acadians were stripped of their land and expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755, 2000 of them went to Massachusetts. https://www.sec.state.ma.us/mus/pdfs...en-Exhibit.pdf

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Old 02-16-2020, 04:54 PM   #22
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You forget, issybird. The Maritimes are not strictly anglophone. In fact, New Brunswick is the only province with two official languages, and has a large (32%) Francophone minority. And while I'll agree that Anne probably resonates with New Englanders, it also resonates with much of the prairies. (And apparently resonates strongly with Japan, if the number of Japanese tourists is any indication!)
No, I didn’t forget. One of the disturbing aspects of the story is how the French Canadians are regarded and treated as inferiors. The Cuthberts would rather adopt a “native” boy rather than continue to rely on (shiftless, it’s implied) French hired hands. And how about the feckless Mary Joe, who was so useless when Minnie May was ill? She rather reminded me of Prissy in Gone with the Wind, with all that implies. She’s not even given the dignity of her real name, no doubt Marie-Josephe, as all those good villagers can’t be bothered with trying for a reasonable pronunciation.

So we know there are French Canadians on the periphery. Not a one is in the village school, however. Nor do they seem to have a church. No doubt Mrs. Lynne wouldn’t approve of papist carryings-on.

I’m not saying Anne doesn’t resonate with Canadians now; I’m saying that in the context of the time of the story, all those in the Maritimes would have had much more in common with and interchange with Americans from the New England states rather than their Canadian countrymen. Moreover, Canada hadn’t even been a unified country for very long at the time of the story, roughly 1880.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:58 PM   #23
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Thanks for the link to that interesting document Victoria. I had heard of the Acadians and knew that the Cajuns were somehow linked, but didn’t know the history. Brutal stuff.

I don’t recall any reference to Acadians in Montgomery’s book. I suppose the two communities lived quite separately and the Anglophone majority ignored their existence.

ETA I crossed with your post issybird, so thanks for those reminders. I hadn’t picked up that they referred to Acadians I suppose.

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Old 02-16-2020, 05:05 PM   #24
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I see her this way too Bookworm_Girl. The proof is in the pudding, since the Anne has been a very important role model and inspired generations of children; at least girls. I’m not sure about boys?
I’m going to have more to say about this, but I think a lot of Anne’s appeal is that she was more like a standard “bad boy” in juvenile literature of the time. How fun and reassuring for a girl to read about a girl who violates the social norms, has opinions and speaks her mind!

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That’s just wrong issybird! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that That’s not heretical to me. One side of my family came to the bottom tip of Nova Scotia from New England six generations ago, and the other side from Staten Island, NY, five generations ago. My siblings and I are the first to venture 300 km north into the province. That’s as much of Canada as we’ve ever penetrated. Most traffic was back and forth to “the States”, via the ferry. Many returned permanently; most went for work at one time or another. Even my grandparents’ produce was shipped to the States for sale. That was the norm when I grew up; Boston was the main city, not Halifax. Many people had little connection to the rest of the province, and nothing with the rest of Canada.
Thanks for the personal evidence! It enhances the hints of this in the story. I can’t resist adding that the original publisher of Anne of Green Gables was in Boston, and not Toronto. Much easier to get to!
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Old 02-16-2020, 05:20 PM   #25
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issybird I’m sorry to read you lost an old favourite! It makes we wish we hadn’t chosen the book.
Never be sorry a book’s been chosen! I’m a big girl and if I can’t enjoy a book in one way, I can find another.

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I feel the same way about how Montgomery developed Anne’s story in later books. I read the first three books at aged 10 & 11, and loved them. I later read the rest of the series as a teenager, and was very disappointed. She just didn’t seem like Anne at all.
I know! All that drive and ambition and talent evanesced. As has been said above, the Emily books are superior. In addition to featuring a grittier heroine, they didn’t go beyond their sell-by date. Three told the story.

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ETA I crossed with your post issybird, so thanks for those reminders. I hadn’t picked up that they referred to Acadians I suppose.
Why should you have? They were written and treated as underlings, so it’s as well they were marginal to the book and easy to overlook.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:33 PM   #26
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Issybird I found the prejudices in the book jarring as well. I had no memory of the ‘stupid French’ comments. Marilla also commented about not wanting an Arab home boy from London - harsh attitude towards abandoned and exploited children. Montgomery was reflecting the very real prejudice that existed at the time however. That’s the first I’ve heard about muslin children among the relocated child migrants though - more to explore.

Bookpossum Yes, the treatment of the Acadians very brutal. Much of the fertile land in the Maritimes was taken by force from the Mi’kmaw First Nation, and later from Acadians, who had built dykes and reclaimed it from tidal flood plains.

Acadians and Cajuns have been holding reunions over the last few decades, exploring linkages and long lost connections. It’s quite interesting to see how each group has evolved separately, yet also retained so many sayings, dishes, etc.

The reason Acadians didn’t attend school with Anne was because the French Catholics and English Protestants had separate school boards. I was fortunate to have been one of three English children allowed to attend our local French school, which was a far better school. (Hence my terrible English spelling and grammar, and why I have to keep editing my posts to fix mistakes. )

Fantasyfan I hadn’t heard of the New Moon books as a child, so didn’t read them. But I did see a CBC series broadcast in the late 90’s and the characters were very engaging. Assuming the series was somewhat faithful to the books, the characters and plot did seem more fully developed.

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Old 02-16-2020, 09:43 PM   #27
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Oh I do envy you the opportunity of having a Francophone education, Victoria! Well worth having the occasional wobble in English spelling or grammar.

And I agree with issybird - never regret that your nomination was successful. Even where we don’t enjoy the book as much as you do, the discussion is interesting, and can lead in all sorts of directions, as with your Acadian history find.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:06 AM   #28
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“Well, that is another hope gone. ‘My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.’ That’s a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I’m disappointed in anything.”
Does anyone know if the quoted line ('My life...') comes from some other text, or is the source fictional? A quick search on the 'net seems to have most people attributing the quote to L.M. Montgomery.


There was this:
Quote:
I read of a girl once in a novel who had a lifelong sorrow but it wasn’t red hair. Her hair was pure gold rippling back from her alabaster brow.
which is less specific and I figured was probably just a general fairytale reference. And later there is a Shakespearean reference (a rose by any other name). Anne appears to have been a remarkably well read 11yo.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:15 AM   #29
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This is probably my favourite line from the book:
Quote:
She had also an uneasy feeling that she ought to scold Anne for apologizing so well;
It says a lot about Anne, and indeed it exposes the ambiguity of the character: sometimes it is unclear whether Anne is truly upset, or happy, or whatever, or whether she is making the most of the dramatic moment. Sometimes, it seems, that even Anne doesn't really know, as with her ongoing grudge against Gilbert.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:10 AM   #30
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“Street Arab” is just the vernacular of the times for poor city boys who hang out on the streets (where else would they go?) and presumably are starting on lives of crime. The name is telling of other prejudices, though! And lets not forget Marilla’s attitude toward Italians, and that it was a Jew who defrauded Anne over the hair dye.

I don’t really hold the prejudices of the time against the book; not only would it be unreal for them not to exist in the story, it would be impossible for the author herself to be more aware than her times. I think the French Canadian aspect is the most interesting, as it really does tell us something about their times, alas, especially that they were confidently regarded as lesser beings despite daily personal contact.
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