When I started this book, I thought, “Wow, I hardly remember this book at all,” because what I remembered most was the movie, and the book is different. If you’ve seen “Anne of Green Gables, The Sequel,” and read the books, you know what I mean. The movie is a mash-up of Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne of Windy Populars, with plots, characters, and plotlines so intertwined it really must have taken a remarkable effort to come up with a screenplay. It took me a little while to untangle my vague memories as I read this book, but when I remembered why I love it.
These books don’t really have a strong overall plot; they are more like a delightful series of short stories woven around a single character: the wonderful Anne Shirley. Anne of Avonlea picks up where Anne of Green Gables left off, and covers Anne's two years of teaching at the Avonlea School. Plenty of things happen, both hilarious and poignant, during that time. The real emphasis is the relationships with the people in Anne’s life, and the joy she takes in the beauty of her surroundings. We do see her complete the transformation from a girl to a young woman. One of my favorite lines in the book comes toward the end, and I think it sums it up nicely: “The page of girlhood had been turned, as by an unseen finger, and the page of womanhood was before her with all its charm and mystery, its pain and gladness.” It is interesting to me how in some ways, Anne is wise beyond her years, and yet in others, she simply refuses to grow up.
We said goodbye to one major character at the end of Anne of Green Gables, and are introduced to several others throughout this book. Most notable are the gruff new neighbor, Mr. Harrison, the delightful Keith twins (particularly the lovably mischievous Davy), the boy genius Paul Irving, and sweet Miss Lavender Lewis. Of course many old favorites are present as well, including Gilbert Blythe, whose feelings toward Anne are pretty clear throughout the story, although hers are considerably less so. The slim, graceful schoolteacher, who sees life as one great romance and eagerly encourages the romances of others, steadfastly refuses to see how her own romance is developing. Of course, that sets us up the next book, Anne of the Island!
I thought this was charming and delightful. Greg keeps rolling his eyes when I laugh out loud at various parts of the story. Ms. Montgomery was a master at capturing the essence of those things that make people interesting and characters real, and she was also funny! If you've never read beyond the first book of this series, you don't know what you're missing!