Do you know what pre-teen girls want? The point of time where they are not too young to play silly games, yet, not too old to be responsible either. As an eleven/twelve-year-old, I never experienced reading as an act of joy. Lack of access to good books and by simply not having anyone around my age who regarded reading as a pleasure, are the reasons why I do not consider any book dear to my childhood. I never had a convent education where reading was encouraged and young girls were introduced to Enid Blyton and other British authors.
At age twelve, I discovered the imaginary world of young protagonists thanks to the widespread popularity of the Harry Potter series. Even then, I never took to reading like I do now. I was drawn to the Harry Potter movie franchise more than the reading of those books. Only in my late teenage years did I get down to finishing a book in its entirety. Ever since then, I have had the mission of catching up on all the books I should have read during my adolescent years.
Reading The Book
I do not remember how it exactly happened, but when I chanced upon Anne of Green Gables after hearing about it in a movie/sitcom or from an article, I decided to add it to the to-read list on my Goodreads page. The book was published in 1908, by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, who is undoubtedly an underrated young adult/children’s author. Her series of eight books are like sunshine on a dark, cloudy day.
It is a delectable combination of Classic English literature and a protagonist who exudes optimism and youthful energy. This is how I would describe the experience of reading the book — sitting in a cosy chair by the window, overlooking an endless meadow, biting into a warm chocolate croissant and sipping hot chocolate. The experience was further enhanced by listening to the audio rendition of the book by Rachel Mc Adams, a classy actress with an air of romantic idealism around her.
The Delightfully Dramatic Anne Shirley
“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
Anne Shirley shares a furious passion for romantic and poetic ideals. She looks for such characteristics everywhere she goes. It is agreed that Montgomery used the typical orphan story as the base. The strength of her writing and the story lies with the dramatic personality attributed to Anne. Anne is a bright young child whose curiosity and imagination knows no bounds.
“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 in 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 was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”
The moment I got annoyed with her constant babble was also the moment I started to love her. Did the author try too hard to make Anne overly dramatic? Yes, she did. But that is precisely why fiction books are an escape.
“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile.”
Montgomery’s character building skills reach perfection when she makes Anne self-aware of her non-stop chatter.
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive — it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.”
An orphan girl who finally gets a chance at life, to be adopted by two loving set of people, to be able to go to school like a regular girl, to make a ‘bosom friend’, and to live in the Canadian countryside is a ‘rags to riches’ story done right.
“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”
Listening to Anne speak about grand ideas, and imagining the setting where the story takes place is like receiving a thousand kisses from puppies.
“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”
There is a warm and feel good sensation that resonates with the reader even after the book ends.
Anne Is Ever So Relevant
Stories like that of Anne are what people succumbing to the demands of today’s fast-paced world need today. Reading classical literature is like taking a break from city life, going offline and spending time recuperating in the countryside. I needed Anne in this social media induced world of likes. I was lucky to have grown up in the nineties without phones and multiple screens demanding my attention. I have seen the world outside, although not as picturesque as the beautiful Canadian countryside, but still, I did not spend my life dictated by gadgets.
Anne also reminds us that we need to have more face to face conversations. Her character is expressive and she easily communicates her emotions to people she trusts; which is very hard to over text messages. She also serves as a role model for girls. She is strong-willed and passionate. She defends herself and does not give other people an opportunity to disrespect her or tread upon her rights and decisions.
“Oh, but there’s such a difference between saying a thing yourself and hearing other people say it,’ wailed Anne. “You may know a thing is so, but you can’t help hoping other people don’t quite think it is.”
Only wonderfully talented authors can breathe such enviable traits in fictional characters.