#GreenGablesReadalong – Anne of the Island

There are many things I love about March. The first signs of spring (normally anyway, this year those started in February. Go ahead and get your hatred out on me East Coasters), St Patrick’s Day, longer brighter days, my birthday, and fresh new fashions.

This year, the Green Gables Readalong provided another thing to love about March: the chance to re-read Anne of the Island.

Before this readalong allowed me to go back and re-read these books, I always thought that Anne of the Island was my favourite. Anne has grown up and has left the Island to pursue her dreams of going to college. She lives in a darling little house with lovely roommates and always seemed like she lived this perfect existence, cozy under Mrs Lynde’s quilts, with lots of social events to attend, surrounded by wonderful friends.

anne of the island

But this time I found Anne of the Island was kind of melancholy. Anne is finally confronted with the realities of growing up:  close friends start getting married and moving further away, her ideals of romance don’t seem to match up with the reality, and death starts summoning friends home with alarming regularity. We’ve all been waiting for Anne and Gilbert’s relationship to finally take off and instead are distracted with a number of awkward proposals and the seeming perfection of Anne’s romantic ideal, Royal Gardner.

Anne struggles to figure out what she really wants and feels like she doesn’t belong in this world her friends are moving into so eagerly.

I also found that this one was even more a product of its time than the first two books. The struggles and triumphs of childhood seem to be universal through time. Being a grown up when Anne was, is quite different than what it’s like now. I had a hard time reading about Mr Harrison trying to hang his dog twice and when they try and chloroform the cat! I don’t remember those parts reading it before. And as her friends get married, you get more of a sense of how restricted life was as a young woman then: teach or get married.

But you take the good with the bad right? While both previous Anne books have been more of a collection of short stories, there was more of a narrative arc through this one. It’s the story of Anne’s time at Redmond, the people she meets and ultimately, the relationship between her and Gilbert. Anne is finding that she has an independent streak. I appreciated the fact that she didn’t settle for what she thought she should have, but waited for the right person. Even then, she doesn’t need to run right out and get married. She’s content to work and dream for another few years. In that respect, she’s thoroughly modern.

And that delicious ending only makes me want to get to April so that I can start Anne of Windy Poplars!

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17 thoughts on “#GreenGablesReadalong – Anne of the Island

  1. Anne of Ingleside’s always been my favourite, because it was the first one I read. Not sure why I read them so out of order, as I had them all! Also, I really love the new covers. Almost makes me want to buy a whole new set!

    • The new covers ARE making me buy a whole new set (but also because I seem to have misplaced my original set at some point)! I remember really loving Rilla of Ingleside – I’m curious to see if that one lives up to it’s place in my heart. I think this kind of proves that when you read something totally matters. I probably liked Anne of the Island so much when I was younger because Anne seemed impossibly grown up. Now I identify with the fears and disappointments more than I could have when I was younger.

  2. Isn’t it funny all the things that seem different the second time around (or even third)? I really got a lot more out of her time at Redmond this time. This one used to be one of my favourites, too, when I was young, but I think mostly for the Anne/Gilbert stuff. I am only half way through so far, and none of that has even happened yet!
    I remember about Ruby Gillis, but I don’t remember it being so horrifying as it seems to me now.
    We’re having a bit of a rough weekend so far, so reading this post was a nice little break for me. Also, I am jealous of the spring you guys are having out there – we are still buried in snow, and tomorrow we’re getting 30cm more. On the bright side, though, a blizzard is always fun! 🙂 Enjoy your weather!

    • Exactly! I thought that Anne and Gilbert got started a lot sooner in this book and I don’t remember being so sad about Ruby. It was so horrible.
      I’m enjoying the different impressions this time though – it’s a kind of way to mark the passage of time in my own life and the way I think about things now vs when I was a teenager.
      Sorry to hear about the blizzard (I would have liked one good snow storm this winter) – if it makes you feel any better, we are in the middle of a rainstorm…will probably rain like this for the next week.

      • Yes, that does makes me feel better. 🙂

        I am loving reading these again, and getting to look at everything differently! I finished it today, actually, while it snowed. There were so many parts that had me crying – way more tears than the first 2 books combined (excluding the death of Matthew, of course).

      • Hate to tell you that we woke up to a beautiful sunny day today…
        This book made you cry?? More than when Matthew died?!?! I’d hate to see the state of you when you finish Rilla of Ingleside!

      • I admit that I cry easily. If a book doesn’t make me cry at some point then there’s a chance that it’s not a very good book (I’m sure there are exceptions, of course, but I can’t think of any right now). Yes, I’ll be a mess when I finish Rilla of Ingleside. Actually, now that I think about it, my favourite books of the series (#3, 5, and 8) are also the ones that I am most likely to be crying over. That’s one of the reasons I love them so much. I do wish I could undo one of the sad things, though – that one is just too sad.

  3. One of my favourite things about Anne of the Island is the way L.M. Montgomery drew on her experience of living in Halifax and attending Dalhousie University when she described Kingsport and Redmond College. It’s such fun to see familiar places like Point Pleasant Park (“the park” in the novel) or The Old Burying Ground (“Old St. John’s Cemetery”) described. When I first read the novel I was very young and even though I was living in Halifax at the time, I didn’t realize she had used the city as inspiration.

    I know what you mean — on that earlier reading I also didn’t see just how melancholy the story is, or how dated. And I like your point about how Anne does seem modern in her willingness to work and dream first, without rushing to get married right away.

    I share Naomi’s envy of your spring weather! Out here on the East Coast, there have been very few things to love about March. The weather just keeps getting worse. But it was a pleasure this month to reread Anne of the Island and, like you, I’m keen to reread Anne of Windy Poplars next. I remember finding that one boring when I was young, maybe because there are so many letters in it and I wanted to see more drama instead of hearing about it second-hand. Looking forward to it.

    • I always forget about the fact that a lot of the books were based on Montgomery’s own experiences. I would love to visit Halifax and PEI one day and see it all for myself!
      I had forgotten that Anne of Windy Poplars was mostly letters- when I was young I always hated that style of book. But I also remember the Pringles (I think that’s what they were called) that made so much trouble for her and I’m looking forward to watching that unfold again.
      Sorry about the weather comment. It was supposed to rain all week but it’s not. It’s mild and sunny…tomorrow is my birthday though so I’m sure it will rain all day and night!
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Pingback: Green Gables Readalong: Anne of the Island | Consumed by Ink

  5. I love Anne’s independence, too! Glad you put that into context regarding how unusual it was at that time for a female to delay marriage, etc.! That does make her actions even more unique! This is my first time to read this series and I’m rather jealous of everyone for whom this is a re-read! I think I would have absolutely loved these books as a child! Nice summary!

    • Honestly, sometimes it’s like reading it for the first time all over again. But it all does feel very familiar in the best possible way. It’s nice to be reminded that one of my favourite childhood heroines is still such a solid role model though.

  6. Pingback: Halfway through the #GreenGablesReadalong – Anne of Windy Poplars | The Paperback Princess

  7. Pingback: #GreenGablesReadalong: Anne’s House of Dreams | The Paperback Princess

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