10 Rated Books Book Reviews Old School Wednesdays

Old School Wednesdays: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smuggler feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past?

Old School Wednesdays Final

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In March 2013, we asked YOU for your favorite old school suggestions – and the response was so overwhelmingly awesome, we decided to compile a goodreads shelf, an ongoing database, AND a monthly readalong/book club.

On this particular Wednesday, we’re doing something a little bit different. See, Ana has never read or seen Anne of Green Gables – one of Thea’s beloved childhood favorite books and television adaptations.

Today, that nonsense ends. Thea will wax poetical about her favorite Anne Shirley shenanigans, and Ana gives her perspective as an adult approaching the classic story with fresh eyes.

Of course, what’s an OSW joint review without your opinion? We invite everyone else to sound off and share their own experiences with the incorrigible, imaginative Anne.


Anne of Green GablesTitle: Anne of Green Gables

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Historical

Publisher: L.C. Page & Co.
Publication date: First published 1908
Paperback: 314 pages

As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever… but would the Cuthberts send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected — a skinny girl with decidedly red hair and a temper to match. If only she could convince them to let her stay, she’d try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables agreed; she was special — a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.

Stand alone or series: Book 1 in the Anne of Green Gables Series

How did we get this book: Bought

Format (e- or p-): Ebook


Thea’s Take:

“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”

Anne (with an “e”) Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan with freckles, red hair, and an imagination that rivals the greatest and most creative minds in history. She loves reading and daydreaming, playacting in great melodramas; she yearns for hair as black as the raven’s wing and for great romantic tragedy… but most of all, Anne yearns for friendship. Kindred spirits, whose souls call out to each other in perfect understand, and a bosom friend she can hold close to her heart – even when in the depths of despair.

When Anne is sent by her orphanage (by mistake) to Green Gables, a farm on Price Edward Island, Anne finds all of these things. She instantly falls in love with Green Gables’s rolling hills and forms a kinship with Matthew, the gentle and softspoken co-owner of the farm. Although the other owner, Matthew’s sister is tough-as-nails and threatens to send Anne back on account of their having no need for a girl on the farm, Anne soon wins over steely Marilla with her imagination, charm and ridiculous shenanigans. Anne of Green Gables is the story of Anne Shirley as she finds a home, friendships, and future. She quickly befriends Diana Barry (her dearest, most cherished bosom friend), and excels at school (taking first place in so many subjects, especially with the guidance of new schoolmaster Miss Stacy), and even forms a rivalry with the infuriating Gilbert Blythe (who dared make fun of Anne’s red hair, to catastrophic ends).

Dear readers, kindred spirits, bosom friends: I love Anne of Green Gables.

I’ve loved it since I was a child: discovering the redhead’s adventures on PEI, marveling at her imaginative scope, and desperately wanting a bosom friend of my own (and secretly, to try Marilla’s raspberry cordial that isn’t actual raspberry cordial). My original volume of Anne of Green Gables was so dogeared and weather-worn that it fell apart by the time I reached adulthood – but not before I was able to pass the book on to my younger sisters.

Thea's original copy

Thea’s original copy

My family moved quite a bit when I was young – from Hawaii to Japan to Indonesia, back to Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines. I had a very happy childhood and younger sisters whom I tortured and love dearly, but I always did yearn for the kind of permanence of home that Anne yearns for in her adventures. I could identify with her feelings of isolation and getting lost in books and her own imagination, wanting a bosom friend of one’s very own, desperately needing to succeed at school and beat the rest of the class. And, beyond those personal reasons, Anne of Green Gables resonated so much with me because it was a book written in the early 20th century about a girl facing pretty impossible odds, yet rising to find happiness and home and success because of her own gumption and ingenuity, as well as the kindness and inherent goodness of others. It’s an uplifting and empowering story – a fairy tale of sorts, but one rooted in humor and goodwill and imagination. Not to mention, the books are written in L.M. Montgomery’s sparkling prose, with Anne’s vivid thoughts and frankly impressive vocabulary coloring the reading experience.

Anne of Green Gables (TV Movie)

Of course, as a child of the 1980s, my love for Anne of Green Gables was only further fueled by the 1985 TV movie adaptation of the same name. Megan Follows will always be Anne to me – this is one of the very first times I can recall reading a book, then watching the movie and feeling overwhlemed by The Awesomeness of seeing characters I love come to life in the best possible way on screen. The film and book are almost inseparable in my mind; I own the DVD edition of Anne of Green Gables and still watch it fairly regularly (say, once a year). (If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to do so immediately – I’m making Ana watch it the next time she visits New York.)

So what else can I say about Anne in this rambling love letter of a post? Perhaps I’ll just conclude with a few things I learned from the rapscallion redhead.

1. Fashion Tips. Puffed sleeves are the height of fashion.


“I don’t see how I’m going to eat breakfast,” said Anne rapturously. “Breakfast seems so commonplace at such an exciting moment. I’d rather feast my eyes on that dress. I’m so glad that puffed sleeves are still fashionable. It did seem to me that I’d never get over it if they went out before I had a dress with them. I’d never have felt quite satisfied, you see. It was lovely of Mrs. Lynde to give me the ribbon too. I feel that I ought to be a very good girl indeed. It’s at times like this I’m sorry I’m not a model little girl; and I always resolve that I will be in future. But somehow it’s hard to carry out your resolutions when irresistible temptations come. Still, I really will make an extra effort after this.”

2. How to Deal With Annoying Boys. Gilbert Blythe, you deserve this slate breaking over your head.

Anne Gilbert Slate

Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper:

“Carrots! Carrots!”

Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!

She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears.

“You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!”

And then–thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and cracked it–slate not head–clear across.

3. How to be a Bosom Friend. Because bosom friends love each other unconditionally…

“Indeed I will,” sobbed Diana, “and I’ll never have another bosom friend–I don’t want to have. I couldn’t love anybody as I love you.”

“Oh, Diana,” cried Anne, clasping her hands, “do you LOVE me?”

“Why, of course I do. Didn’t you know that?”

“No.” Anne drew a long breath. “I thought you LIKED me of course but I never hoped you LOVED me. Why, Diana, I didn’t think anybody could love me. Nobody ever has loved me since I can remember. Oh, this is wonderful! It’s a ray of light which will forever shine on the darkness of a path severed from thee, Diana. Oh, just say it once again.”

“I love you devotedly, Anne,” said Diana stanchly, “and I always will, you may be sure of that.”

…and also take care of each other when one has unwittingly gotten the other drunk.

4. How to bear a dye job gone bad. Because green hair is no fun for anyone.


“Anne Shirley, what have you done to your hair? Why, it’s GREEN!”

Green it might be called, if it were any earthly color–a queer, dull, bronzy green, with streaks here and there of the original red to heighten the ghastly effect. Never in all her life had Marilla seen anything so grotesque as Anne’s hair at that moment.

“Yes, it’s green,” moaned Anne. “I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. But now I know it’s ten times worse to have green hair. Oh, Marilla, you little know how utterly wretched I am.”

5. How to deal with the unexpected. Because sometimes, bends in the road are just what you need.

“I’m just as ambitious as ever. Only, I’ve changed the object of my ambitions. I’m going to be a good teacher– and I’m going to save your eyesight. Besides, I mean to study at home here and take a little college course all by myself. Oh, I’ve dozens of plans, Marilla. I’ve been thinking them out for a week. I shall give life here my best, and I believe it will give its best to me in return. When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes–what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows–what new landscapes–what new beauties–what curves and hills and valleys further on.”

Ana’s Take:

I had never heard of Anne of Green Gables until a couple of years ago. As far as I know it was never a big title in Brazil – Wikipedia tells me of two translations, one published in 1956 and out of print and one published in 2009 when I had already moved away. As such, Anne of Green Gables has not been a part of my childhood not even as part of a collective cultural knowledge. No, my imported childhood friends were Pollyanna and the Little Prince, never Anne Shirley.


But…allow me to retrace my steps to the moment I started reading this book. Because my first impression was not one of enthusiasm. As an adult, reading from a modern perspective in this distant 21st century, there was a bit of culture shock and discomfort. Allow me to remind you that:

-Marilla and Andrew wanted an orphaned kid not out of kindness but because they wanted a child worker. Yes, they sent for a boy of 11 (ELEVEN) so that the boy could work in return of room and board. Let that sink in.

-there is a bit of xenophobia and surprise!racism! in the book: at one point street urchins are called “London street Arabs” and Anne is conned by peddler who was a “German Jew” and not one of those Italians like Marilla thought.

It is possible to be a fan of problematic things.


There is also the question of my hardened, cynical heart when faced with the type of character that Anne is….the unbearably sweet, extremely quirky, ever so clever girl who just wouldn’t.Shut.Up about being ugly because of her HORRIBLE red hair and freckles. I confess it was hard to start with – I kept rolling my eyes and almost stopped reading.
Then Marilla decided to keep Anne and I found myself crying. No, I found myself sobbing. In public. Disgraceful.


Featuring an omniscient narrator with a sympathetic, somewhat snarky voice, Anne of Green Gables is a novel of episodic adventures featuring what I can only call a set of loveable characters with Anne Shirley as a protagonist. These episodes stand well on their own but come together in the end by composing a beautiful portrait of Anne’s childhood. Her adventures with her friends, her adoptive family, going to school and the setbacks that can only happen to Anne (Anne, I too had green hair at one point. Unlike you, I had to endure it and it was horrible. There was one time when a cute boy pointed at me and said I had bogeys all over my hair. I wanted to hide forever, Anne) are amazing – funny and heartwarming even without any sense of nostalgia attached to it. But what I loved the most is how it was all eventually framed as part of growing up. The later chapters are as important and serious and as the earlier ones were funny and light.

I loved the later, more composed, less talkative Anne just as much as I loved the early days Anne.


Anne is not a Mary Sue. She is not a manic pixie girl. She is not perfect: she has a terrible temper, she doesn’t like everybody (even if she tries).
But she is: self-confident, assertive, smart, loyal to her girlfriends and a girl: I refuse to call her a Mary Sue or to add any negative connotations to such a wonderful female character. I will not tell her to shut up.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

This book is a kindred spirit. I wish I had met it sooner.


Ana: 9 – Damn near perfect

Thea: 10 – A perfect, beautiful stroll down memory lane

And now we turn it over to you, gentle readers! Have you read (or watched) Anne of Green Gables? Sound off in the comments!


  • Mary Anne
    January 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    You know how some days nothing can move you? You could read Beth’s death scene in Little Women and never flinch. But other days even a picture on the wall can bring tears? Today is one of those other days. My mom made me read “Anne” when I was a kid. She was Canadian, and I think considered Anne somewhat of a national treasure. I liked the book when I was eight, loved it when I was ten, and had read the whole series multiple times before I finished high school. And that was before I saw the movie. Which, as you said, was one of those rare, awesome movies that perfectly captures and enriches a book without losing the character of the book.

    All of which being said, your quotes from “Anne of Green Gables” brought tears to my eyes. Thanks. I’ve been on a bit of a book stall – nothing is really holding my attention, and I need to hit the reset button. Anne just might do it for me.

  • Allison
    January 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Anne was my first book love, and she remains high atop my favorites list to this day! One of my main goals in life is to urge people that love the first book of the series to continue on with it – there are a couple of less than stellar installments along the way – but Anne is always Anne. Plus – Rilla of Ingleside, the last of the series, is easily another of my all-time favorites!

  • Grace_Omega
    January 21, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    So I’ve never read this book, but I am a huge fan of the 1979 anime series based on it (called Akage no Anne), which is apparently somewhat highly regarded in Japan (the founders of Studio Ghibli worked on it). I wasn’t sure how faithful it was to the source material- I know a lot was added to fill out a 50-episode run- but reading this post I’m recognizing all of the scenes discussed, and even a lot of the dialogue seems to be identical.

    I don’t think the series was ever officially released in English (apparently it was fairly big in non-anglophone Europe) but if you don’t mind resorting to fansubs there are ways to track it down. It’s obviously dated, the animation can be fairly janky at times and it’s extremely slow paced, but it’s got some gorgeous background art and a beautiful score. I’ve kind of fallen in love with it.

    “No.” Anne drew a long breath. “I thought you LIKED me of course but I never hoped you LOVED me.

    I remember watching this scene and thinking you could easily interpret Anne’s relationship with Dianna as being romantic in the modern sense without really changing anything. Then again maybe I just prefer shipping those two because I’ve always disliked where Anne’s canon romance goes…..

  • tanita
    January 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, this was SO much fun to read. I’ve been waiting to see how you liked it, Ana! I encountered this book – a very, very, very, very old copy of it when I was nine, and helping a teacher clean out her classroom books… she said I could have it and I hid it under my T-shirt – bulky old hardback that it was – and squirreled it away in my room and read it. And then reread it. And reread it again, and again… and again… Because our family didn’t have money for books that weren’t religious books, and because even my library books had to be nonfiction (and yes, my parents checked), I didn’t know until I left home that there were other books in this series. I wrote SO MUCH fanfiction on this series, it’s not funny (I’m going to go ahead and admit that her sequels are probably better than mine). It’s funny to think with horror of the xenophobic stuff – I remember it, but it was … par for the course for Marilla, so I overlooked it.

    Now, I totally need to reread this. Again.

  • Abby
    January 21, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Ooohh, this was such a fun post to read, and now I’m longing to reread Anne and rewatch the TV miniseries. I actually watched the miniseries multiple times before ever reading the books (I know, what a travesty), and completely fell in love with Anne and her family and friends. When I did read the books, for some reason I preferred Emily of New Moon to Anne. But she is such a real, lovely, enchanting character, that I may just have to return to her.

    As a side note, the image you included of Anne and her puffed sleeves just about made me die laughing.

  • Julie
    January 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Loved this series and read it over and over and over between the ages of, say, 11-14 or so. ( I wrote fan fic for it, too, before I knew such a thing even existed.)
    My favorites were some of the later books in the series, though. Rilla (as mentioned above) is fabulous; rereading this series as an adult, though, I’d have to say my favorite is Anne’s House of Dreams.
    I didn’t really grow into the Emily books till later.

  • Lammie
    January 21, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    For Anne fans there is also the musical version of Anne of Green Gables, which is performed every year in Charlottetown, PEI, and has been for almost 50 years. I saw it 40 years ago, when I was 12, and it was the highlight of my summer vacation.

  • Katie
    January 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I’m in my 30s and still reread the series about every year or so. Even Rainbow Valley, which is, to me, a treading-water book (one that doesn’t really advance plot, but I read it anyway because it’s part of the series). And Anne brought me to Emily and Valancy, whom I love even more. To me, they’re less saccharine (Anne can be just a tad insufferably cheerful) and therefore more human.

    When my parents retired and moved several states from where I’d grown up, they found several boxes of my old books. Including several of LMM’s short-story collections, in editions that are now out of print. I was THRILLED, and they now hold a prominent place on my bookshelves. I will never, ever get rid of them.

  • Jessica
    January 21, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Oh, Anne. With an ‘E’. Anything else would be just dreadful.

    I grew up with my nose in a book and horrifically bullied. Anne was my bosom friend in a window. From her I learned how to hold my head high even when I wanted to run, how to be graceful in defeat, and gracious in victory.

    And that red hair (and sometimes black, for Diana) is truly the best.

    Even now at *mrflmrfl* years old, I still read Anne once a year, and watch it every time it comes on PBS (even though the DVDs are on my shelf). And the best part?

    I’ve an almost-five year old daughter who’s about to be introduced to Miss Shirley, as well.

  • Ana
    January 22, 2015 at 2:58 am

    Oh these comments are all so lovely, thank you for sharing your Anne stories with us. It made me tear up a bit.

  • Sara
    January 22, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Like many others I loved Anne…I think sometimes my favorites are Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars…but can I just second the Emily and Valancy shout outs? At some times I think I loved Emily more–she seemed closer to the times we lived in somehow. And Valancy’s blue castle is one of my comfort books–I think its Montgomery at her freest and I can’t recommend it enough. So nice to see that someone else loved it a well!

  • Malin
    January 22, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Add me to the list of people who had tears in my eyes when I read this. I have met women from so many different countries, and so many of them have fond memories of L.M. Montgomery’s books.

    I loved the Anne of Green Gables books as a girl, and was so happy to discover that I still loved them as a grown-up when I re-read all of them a few years back. It made my life a better place when my best friend Lydia (a true kindred spirit) told me about The Blue Castle, which I had never hear about. I really need to track down the Emily of New Moon books and re-read them too, I suspect I will still love them as well. Thank you so much for doing this as an Old School Wednesday!

  • Kathryn
    January 25, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    My copy of Anne of Green Gables was my mother’s copy from the 1930s (so like the 23rd reprint of the original). She loved Anne and the book and that love was passed along to me.

    I now live in Canadian Maritimes, not in PEI itself, but very near to it. And when I first moved here about 20 years ago, my mother was still alive and came for a visit to see my new home — and of course we went to PEI and Green Gables National Park. It is a wonderful, wonderful memory and I am so happy that we both able to visit Anne-land.

    And I want to give a shout out to The Blue Castle — I think it is Montgomery’s most interesting book. Valency, like Anne, holds a special place in my heart.

  • Catherine King
    January 28, 2015 at 2:11 am

    How do I LOVE Anne of Green Gables. My mom adored them as a little girl, and when the time was right she introduced them to me. First Anne… then Emily… then Marigold and Valancy and Kilmeny and all the short stories… and finally Pat and Jane. Weirdly enough it took me years to like Rilla, Anne’s youngest daughter, but now I see the Rilla of Ingleside book as a striking-out, a return to form, if you will. I love them all, but Emily is probably my favorite.

    I remember the Harry Potter fansite I used to frequent had a LM Montgomery fan thread where we swooned over Gilbert Blythe, the perfect man, in his *dreamy* cotton vest. Oh, memories…

    Then when I was about to enter high school, Mom and I went on the trip of a lifetime to visit Prince Edward Island. Red roads, raspberry cordial ice cream, playful otters and charming Canadian cordiality… we had such a wonderful time. We even got to visit the Green Gables farm! It was August, though, so I couldn’t find any June Lilies to collect.

    In more recent years I’ve been known to trawl academic criticism of LMM (yes, there is such a thing, and it’s really interesting!) as a way of keeping my head in the game of academia.

    If you want to make me cry in five minutes or less, all you have to do is say in a soft, slightly gruff but loving voice, “Well, now, it wasn’t a boy that won the Avery Prize now, was it. It was a girl — MY girl, that I’m proud of.”

  • Sharon
    January 28, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Reading this post has woken up some of my best childhood reading memories! I gave away all my copies of the series years ago, and I’ve spent every year after- more or less- regretting it :(.

  • Victoria Scribens
    January 30, 2015 at 9:16 am

    It’s funny, but I didn’t actually read Anne of Green Gables until my parents moved to PEI, despite having watched Road to Avonlea (a tv series) every Sunday afternoon when I was little … but that passage about the bend in the road was hugely important to me when I was facing a major decision about my future and not able to see where I was going at all. I’d been feeling as if I was coming to a cliff–and then read that, and thought: No! It’s a bend! That’s why I can’t see where I’m going!

    I now live on Prince Edward Island myself, and find it endlessly amusing that Green Gables is a National Historic Site. But the musical is actually quite delightful and well worth watching if you ever happen to come to the Island.

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  • Cheng Yu-tung
    August 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I grew up watching Anne of Green Gables on sunday nights. Only later read the books. I have actually read all of them.

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