Friday, September 24, 2010

Guest Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

All right, guys, we're taking a break from our "writer audition" guest reviews for just a regular, good ol' fashioned guest review from our new friend, Ilona. Thanks so much for the review, Ilona!

Hi, I’m Ilona from over at The Friande! I’m 20, have recently graduated from uni, and am currently reading my way through the 100 Books to Read Before You Die list. I also have a propensity going over word lengths when writing, but I figure this is a direct correlation with the amount of words I regularly read. As you probably guessed, Anne of Green Gables is on my list.

Published: 1908

It’s about: Anne, an orphan with red hair (the red hair is paramount; it seems that no orphan is complete without it), is sent to live with the Cuthberts in Green Gables. The book is a chronicle of her adventures from the ages of 12 to 16, including the accidental intoxication of her best friend, the baking of a very questionable cake, her vendetta against some poor boy who dared to like her, and questionably green hair.

I thought: I can’t shake off the feeling that growing up in the country would have been awesome. Think of all the exploring you could do through the surrounding forest (yes, a forest is a must-have; I don’t want a few cows standing around on grassy fields), building plenty of secret hideaways, and pretending to consort with fairies. Maybe reading The Secret Garden or The Magic Faraway Tree raised some unrealistic expectations, but, as Anne would have said, the country has so much more scope for imagination.

Anne of Green Gables is your key back into that world; the world of childhood and adventures, when everything seemed just that little bit more magical. This novel stirred up plenty of fond memories; in particular, the strange impetus for frequently renaming oneself to elegant French monikers. 

Our lovely heroine makes the book for me, because, without her, I’m afraid the story would disintegrate into a collection of morals and baking incidents. Thankfully, she has this habit of innocently making brilliant – and often philosophical – remarks, a lack of fear when it comes to standing up for herself, (particularly in the days when a child should be seen and not heard) and an enormous imagination.

Only criticism is that during the occurrence of an event you’ll see coming from mile away, Anne’s grief is glossed over by the narrator. Who had better things to talk about. Like flowers. Minor, minor detail, but you know how these things can irk.

Verdict: Put it on the shelf: you’ll want to re-read this one, promise.

Reading recommendations: Read this book on a sick day, a down-in-the-dumps day, a rainy day, or a general hating-on-the-world day. It’s guaranteed to pick you up.

Warnings: Upon finishing this book, you may experience overwhelming urges to have unwholesome fun. Just to shake off all that squeaky-cleanliness.

Favourite excerpts:
 “Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I’d look up into the sky-up-up-up-into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there were no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

“Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?”

“I hadn’t any material to waste on puffed sleeves. I think they are ridiculous-looking things anyhow. I prefer plain, sensible ones.”
“But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself,” protested Anne mournfully.