After finishing Anne of Green Gables, I almost couldn’t wait for it to be February so I could start on Anne of Avonlea for Reeder Reads’ Green Gables Readalong. I definitely had to remind myself that if I jumped the gun and read all the books, there’d be no more books to read. A lesson in delayed gratification for this Millennial.
But then it was February and the glorious re-read of Anne of Avonlea could commence!
Anne of Avonlea sees Anne back at home with Marilla, teaching at her old school where most of the children are very well known to her. We go with her as she struggles to put into action her very lofty teaching ideals – she dreams of having a profound effect on future leaders and artists. Anthony Pye tests her notion of holding off on corporal punishment while in newcomer Paul Irving, a daydreaming boy of nine or ten, she finds a kindred spirit. Marilla agrees to take on the raising of Davy and Dora Keith, the orphaned six year old twins of a distant relation. Davy spends the book sorely testing Avonlea’s patience with constant questions and refrains of “I want to know” (as well as a predilection for getting into a ridiculous amount of mischief).
This second book has Anne much more involved in the little world around Green Gables. She’s finding out what’s important to her, who her friends are and that the only inevitable thing is change. She is intent on helping to improve Avonlea and, along with all the other young people, embarks on a number of projects to boost civic pride.
There are so many characters to love in this installment. Davy Keith has always been one of my favourites – so honest about his desire to get into trouble, yet so repentant when he’s called out on it. I love his assertions that he honestly didn’t know it was wrong to tell “whoppers” after he locked Dora in the shed. Paul Irving too is such a dear little soul – Anne’s interactions with him show what kind of mother she is likely to be, taking everything he says seriously even when others think he’s a little strange. She never loses that ability to understand that little people like to be taken seriously. Lavender Lewis at Echo Lodge is just the most delicious eccentricity and I loved rediscovering the delights of Charlotta the Fourth.
There’s not a lot of Gilbert Blythe in this one, just the most tantalizing hints of what’s to come right at the very end. It goes without saying that I can’t wait til March to read the next one. I love that LM Montgomery didn’t wuss out and marry Anne off in this book (I’m sure none of her contemporaries would have blamed her – Diana does get engaged in this book). Even though her dreams have been put on pause, Anne is never anything but positive, ensuring that she still gives her all to her little pupils while keeping up her own studies in the hopes that when it becomes possible to go to college, she will be ready. She helps Marilla with Green Gables and the twins, does her best to inspire all of her students and is still the Anne we loved in the first book. She still gets her hopes up impossibly high and feels keenly any disappointments, she still tries to always do the right thing even when it’s hard and she still delights in Octobers and spring times and golden days.
In today’s fast paced world, filled with distractions, irritants and Kardashians, we need Anne Shirley.
She has the power to make me smile for a nearly hour long commute alongside smelly, sticky, sweaty people toting soaked umbrellas, bulky bags, pushing me in their hurry to get to the office (or home) as quickly as possible. The high I get from reading these books often lasts for hours – a happy, contented glow from having spent time with one of my favourite heroines. So once again, thank you Lindsey for hosting the Green Gables Readalong! Roll on March!