Tag Archives: anne of green gables

Book Review: Before Green Gables

Book: Before Green Gables

Author: Budge Wilson

Recommend: If you are a fan of the Anne series by L.M. Montgomery this was a fun read.

When I saw this book on the library shelves I may have squeaked slightly with excitement because I am a huge fan of the original series by L.M. Montgomery and always wished that someone else would write more about Anne. I loved Anne so much growing up that I am currently on my third set of paperbacks for the series and am working on getting them all in hardback copies because I read them so often. This book starts with her birth and follows her all the way to her arrival with the Cuthberts.

The author thoroughly understood the source material and made sure to include the key families and locations mentioned through the series. I think that overall the author did a great job of fleshing out the things we simply didn’t know about or only had been hinted at by the author originally.

That being said, there were a few inconsistencies in this book. The most notable inconsistency was Anne’s attitude towards school in Green Gables was very different from her attitude towards school in this book in some ways. Also, her voice just doesn’t feel quite right through the book. The author makes a great attempt at making her sound like Anne, especially at the end of the book, however it isn’t quite right. Also, there were some small things that were missed, like Anne’s attitude towards Mrs. Hammond, which was much more positive in this book than it was in the original series.

This was is definitely a fun read for Anne fans if you can stomach a few small flaws.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Bookish Memories

Memories when it comes to books are easy for me. I’ve been reading  obsessively since I learned how to read. By the time I was out of grade school my library was almost as large as my parents and since then it has only grown to be massive. Books and reading have always been a big part of my life.

Top Ten Tuesdays1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – I’ve talked about this before on my blog but I learned to read with Charlotte’s Web. We were riding in a car headed somewhere and I started sounding my way through the first two pages of the book. By the end of the second page I stopped reading out loud and was completely transitioned to reading in my head and worked through the book.

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – I was eight or nine when my grandmother sent me the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid. I devoured them and found my first literary sister or kindred spirit as Anne would say. something about this character really connected with me. I wore out two more sets of the books until my grandmother started finding them for me in hardback because I just destroyed them so quickly due to the massive number of rereads.

3. When reading made me cool – I’ll never forget the time I got my teacher in trouble because of my reading speed. Almost every year my mom would get the same phone call at the beginning of the year. The teacher would call and say that they were having a problem with me lying about reading. My mom would tell them to ask me comprehension questions and call her back. They would. I would answer correctly and they would call my mom back and apologize. In junior high though I had a teacher with a temper. She didn’t like me from day one. The first time we were to silently read came up. This teacher though didn’t think to call my mother. Instead she asked me comprehension questions and then after I answered correctly, called me a liar in front of everyone and was rather nasty about it. I was furious and told her to call my mother. She did, thinking she was going to get me in more trouble. Instead, they had me read something else and asked me to retell the story. I watched the instant the teacher’s face fell because she had finally realized I was in fact telling the truth. The rest of the class was in awe. I went from being a nerd to being kind of cool. I had gone up against a teacher – and won. I had been bullied so badly by my peers before that and this event stopped it all. For the first time in my school life, I wasn’t being picked on. Of course, less than six months later we moved and I was back to nerds-ville and bullies again but those few months were awesome! As a teacher, this experience really helped me learn to give kids the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

4. The Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce – The book itself was never something amazing to me but until I read this book I really struggled with symbolism. For some reason this book pulled back the veil for me an I was able to understand the hidden meaning behind what was being written. It gave me a whole new perspective on some of my favorite authors.

5. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – This book helped me discover my love of reading after spending four or five years doing very little free reading due to college and my music education. Well, very little reading for me.

6. The Twilight Series – Did anyone really think I would create a list without it? This helped me discover less intense reading. I needed a way to keep reading without it being in depth, heavy material with my job which was taking a lot from me. This book captured my imagination in a way that very few books had before and got me writing again.

7.  Hitting 250,000 readers – When you hit a quarter of a million readers with your fiction as an amateur author, it definitely leaves a lasting impression. That so many people would read something you wrote is amazing. It made me want to explore writing more. While I have a long way to go, I definitely feel like anything is possible.

8. When someone you know gets published – A friend getting a publishing deal is almost as cool as getting your own – almost 😉 At least I think so since I haven’t gotten one – yet.

9. Every time I read to my kids – As a teacher, one of the best things I get to do is share my love of reading with my students. I get to show them that reading is a part of everything they do and how important it is. I also get to share how fun it can be as well 🙂

10. Getting my first nook – When I realized I could carry hundreds of books at once and never had to carry a separate bag for my books on vacation again. Overjoyed doesn’t quite cover it. Now if I can only convince someone to get me a simple touch with glowlight…

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Notable Character: Anne Shirley

One year for Christmas, my grandmother, who spent her life as an elementary school librarian sent me a set of books that she insisted I just had to read. I was excited because reading was the one thing I loved doing more than anything else and she always sent me great things to check out. It took me a little bit of time but I finally dived into the Anne books a couple of months later when my mom asked if I had ever gotten to reading those books that grandma had given me.

Anne is a precocious, imaginative red-head who comes to live with an austere brother and sister on a small island off the east coast of Canada. She was orphaned at a very young age and lived to read and use her imagination which was always getting her into trouble. Her passion for life and the mistakes that she made were fascinating to me. She felt so very real. I often wished that she really existed because she was definitely the kind of girl I wanted for a best friend, even though I knew she would have gotten me into all kinds of trouble. As I read through the books again and again while I grew up, I would connect with a different version of Anne. As a teenager, I understood Anne of Avonlea and Anne of Island. During my first two years of teaching, Anne of Windy Poplars was my near constant companion (when I wasn’t reading another vampire book series by a certain Mormon author). As a young wife it was Anne’s House of Dreams. I hope some day to be able to be kindred spirits with the mother version of Anne when I am lucky enough to become one.

Right before she let’s him have it!

Anne’s flaws are exactly what makes the reader love her I think. She is not the perfect heroine and is accessible in her imperfections. My favorite scene in the whole series is the time that Anne takes a slate and smashes it over Gilbert’s head after he teases her about her red hair. I love that scene not because Anne gets her vengeance of the boy who is teasing her, but because she loses her temper quite often, something I was quite good at when I was younger. It was nice to see a heroine who lost hers all the time as well. Anne’s overactive imagination that makes her afraid of the dark forest was also comforting to me. I was a kid who was afraid of many things growing up due to my overactive imagination. Many times I felt like I was the only one. Anne made it okay to be afraid and to know that it was irrational but that it was okay. Anne never felt like she was pretty because of her freckles and red hair. I was a plump kid who never felt like I fit in next to the stick figures that I grew up with. Anne helped me be okay with who I was in a way that adults around me could never convince me of.

If you have yet to discover the amazing character that is L.M. Montgomery’s Anne, I would suggest going out and getting copies of the seven book series for yourself and any other little girl you know who doesn’t quite fit in. I’m on my third set of books now (I’ve worn out two sets over the last twenty years) and I know that if I have a daughter, Anne will feature prominently in her childhood and beyond as well because every girl should meet and grow up with Anne.

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The importance of L.M. Montgomery

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.

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Filed under Book Worm Rant, Children's book review, Review