I wouldn’t call this a traditional book review but more a glimpse into how one author’s writing shaped my childhood.
I received my first set of the Anne of Green Gables series from my grandmother for Christmas when I was eight. I read the first one with some reluctance. I had been reading a lot of fantasy and much of it was rather dark for an eight year old. Since I was reading years above what was normal for my age though, the choices were sometimes limited in my school library and my teachers would allow me to select books that were sometimes not appropriate in my parent’s eyes.
So after some prodding from my mother, I picked one up. I got about five pages in and I was completely engrossed. I rapidly sped through the books in the series and then read them over and over again. Eventually I moved on and devoured the rest of her books as I grew up, eventually needing a second set of the books simply because the original set had worn out completely with age. Before my grandmother died, she was working on completing my set in hardbacks simply because I kept killing my paperback versions over and over again.
For me, Montgomery was my first introduction to novels driven by the characters and not the plot. Her books opened up a whole new world of literature for me. From Anne I quickly moved on to more classic literature, falling in love with the greats. While I would never compare Montgomery to Tolstoy, Dumas, or Hugo, she had to same kind of impact on my life that those writers did. Anne allowed me to see that being a strange kid (and I was a very strange kid) was okay and that somehow in the end I would come out okay. Even though Anne was far from normal, eventually she grew up and became the amazing wife and mother portrayed in her later books. Montgomery showed me the magic of childhood and the power of being a kid through Jane of Lantern Hill. She explained how it was okay to do things your own way through The Blue Castle. She showed me that having physical limitations were not the end of the world or the end of the chance for love when I was older through Kilmeny of the Orchard.
I don’t know where I would be or who I would be if my grandmother hadn’t sent that first set of books to me when I was eight. Thanks grandma. I miss you.