Books make a perfect gift. To give someone a book that you love is like giving away a small piece of your heart. A book represents not only an investment in cash but also an investment in reading time. If a picture is worth one thousand words, a book is worth one hundred thousand or more—words that are given to encourage, enlighten, or comfort.
I was the recipient of such a thoughtful gift, which made reading it all the more pleasurable. I thought of the giver each time I picked the book up—I saw her smiling face and felt her love for me.
The book I received was a double volume, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Mind, I am a huge fan of the classics. I struggled to nurture such a passion in my own children to no avail. My son listened to The Red Badge of Courage on audio book, but that was as far as my quest got me.
As a child, I was more apt to read Treasure Island, White Fang, or Sherlock Holmes than Little Women or Wuthering Heights, so a proper acquaintance with Anne Shirley evaded me for fifty some years.
I am so glad to be finally introduced to this wonderful series of novels. I was immediately drawn into the story by Ms. Montgomery’s eloquent and sustained descriptions. Those of us familiar with the modern publishing industry are aware that such indulgence is frowned upon these days. In fact, I was advised to keep my descriptions to three sentences.
Thank God no one told Lucy Maud Montgomery that. I love being drawn into a scene with vivid and poetic description. How her stories would have been diminished without her effusive descriptions of Prince Edward Island, Green Gables, and the area surrounding Avonlea.
Ms. Montgomery demonstrates an uncanny ability to create memorable characters. Beginning with Mrs. Rachel Lynde and the irrepressible Anne, to Miss Lavendar Lewis, Ms. Montgomery inhabits Avonlea with a colorful cast. Each person is unique and remains true to character throughout the two volumes I read.
On the down side, Anne Shirley tends to dip into what I call the Hawkeye Pierce Syndrome. If you’re familiar with the 70’s sitcom, M*A*S*H, you might recall that toward the end the character portrayed by Alan Alda became something of a demigod—too good to be true—or single, at the very least. Anne meets with a similar fate. She certainly lands herself in plenty of mishaps, she still has too few character flaws to make her totally believable. Still, she remains lovable, so she sustains the series.
If you haven’t read the Anne Shirley series or just haven’t read them in a long time, I encourage you to share them with a daughter or granddaughter. They are fun to read and a wonderful legacy to pass on. Thank you, Violet, for a gift that will live on with me for many years.