Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Anne of Green Gables...

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery was our November 2016 Middle School Socratic Book Club read.  It is a fabulous read that draws on the life of the author, L. M. Montgomery.  Shortly after its publication in 1908, Montgomery received praise from Mark Twain, which was a bit ironic since Twain authored The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, our first book of this Middle School Socratic Book Club season.

Anne Shirley is an 11-year old orphan girl adopted by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, owners of Green Gables. The Cuthberts originally write for a male orphan to stay with them to help with farm chores.  Therefore, Matthew is quite shocked when he arrives at the train station to pick up his orphan and it's a girl. Eventually, Anne Shirley wins the heart of Matthew and Marilla and it's decided she will stay at Green Gables rather than being sent back in exchange for a boy.

Anne is a lively character with a big imagination.  Her exuberance for life and strong opinions push the story forward.  Her childish antics keep the reader entertained and longing for more.  Of course, Anne's imagination and romanticized ideas of what life should be like versus the real life world is a major conflict in the story.  Some folks, including Marilla, found Anne strange and wanted her to stop imagining in order to conform to their world and the expectations of their community Avonlea. In the end, Anne shows real maturity and responsibility in the sacrifice of her life's dream.  She gives up the Avery scholarship she worked so hard to achieve in order to stay at Green Gables and care for Marilla and the farm after tragedy strikes. Her decision leads to that man vs. society conflict resolution.

The major theme of Anne of Green Gables is belonging.  Anne longs to find a place to belong. She wants to be loved in spite of her idealistic dreams, thin frame and red hair. She eventually strikes a balance between her imagination and social respectability giving her a home and family at Green Gables.

Riley, Ruben and I thoroughly enjoyed Anne of Green Gables.  Ruben initially asked for more and now both he and Riley want to continue with L. M. Montgomery's classic series.  Ironically, on Thanksgiving evening, the Anne of Green Gables movie played on our local PBS station.  It was a wonderful and warm way to end our day of giving thanks, but in no way a suitable replacement for Montgomery's original work.  I am using Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery as my 2016 Back to the Classics Name of Place in Title book.  Whether young or old, I highly encourage you to consider reading it!

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