Rosiepig loves Anne of Green Gables: spReAd the love book challenge guest post

Logo designed by Gisborne's BoyJazzy and Obscura’s spReAd the love book challenge added posts today by Perry and KatharineD and micra1 — follow the links to find out about some favorite books from their childhoods that have now been put in the hands of young readers!

If you would like to participate, just let Jazzy, Obscura, me, or another participant know. All you need to do is donate a favorite book to a library or give it to a young reader — and hopefully tell us a little about why you made that choice. I can host a guest post here; a series of other bloggers would be happy to do so as well.

Today I am hosting a challenge post by reader and frequent commentator, Rosiepig, writing about why she has passed on numerous copies of Anne of Green Gables (1908) to readers of the next century. Lots of thought-provoking memories here about a book that has remained dear to many of us. Thanks to Rosiepig for writing them down for us.

Isn’t she a great writer?

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AGGRosipig writes:

I never put myself forward to write anything, mainly due to a torturous English lesson where one of my essays was read out to my peers and friends with all the bad points picked out by the class and written on the board. As you can imagine, that didn’t really help my self-confidence; however, when I saw Servetus had posted about SpReAd the Love and she asked if I would like to do a guest post, I thought I would give it another go, thirty years later!

Anne of Green Gables tells the story of a young orphan girl who came to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, an elderly brother and sister who farm at Green Gables in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. It was first published in 1908 and was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Anne Shirley arrived at Green Gables aged 11 due to an error. Matthew and Marilla had ordered a boy from the orphanage to help Matthew on the farm. When Matthew went to the station to collect him, all he found was a talkative little girl whom he fell in love with on that long drive home. Marilla was not so keen, but eventually she came round to “Anne with an E.” Montgomery relates the story of Anne’s troubled early years in a scene where Anne tells Marilla about them during a carriage ride. Similarly, Montgomery uses Anne’s conversations with various characters throughout the book to help tell the story and we learn of Anne’s love of school and learning. She is a bright, imaginative child who excels in school and goes on to get her teaching license from Queens Academy, where she wins a scholarship. Though Marilla is quite a sharp lemon to start with, we can see her love for Anne growing throughout the story. She only tells Anne her true feelings the night of Matthew’s funeral, four and a half years later.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 1.27.56 PM[Illustration by Anna C. Leplar, from the Folio Society edition.]

Why Anne of Green Gables?  What was it about the lost little girl with the red pig tails that made me fall in love with the book then, a love that lasts to this day?

I first read Anne when I was eleven years old myself, and my grandmother, Margaret, gave it to me for my birthday. I read voraciously as a child; I still do; but something about Anne of Green Gables stuck with me. I envied her strength of will and her courage. I found hope in how she saw the positive in everything and learned from her mistakes. As a child who spent many an hour being ferried between warring parents, I saw Prince Edward Island as an oasis of calm and perfection and I would read the book over and over in the car whilst driving between the two.

Sadly, I don’t have the copy my grandmother gave me any longer, but my mother gave me a beautiful copy for my thirtieth birthday and I try to re-read it every year.  It is from the Folio Society here in the UK, which produces hardback copies of the classics. It has wonderful illustrations and an introduction from Canadian author Margaret Atwood. She writes, “Anne of Green Gables is one of those books you feel almost guilty liking because many other people seem to like it as well.” I feel the same. She also comments that as a children, we follow Anne’s story, but she found that as an adult she followed Marilla’s arc: “[I]t may be the ludicrous escapades of Anne that render the book so attractive to children, but it is the struggles of Marilla that give it resonance for adults.”

a9848f04da93d2f094f9c06e6fa4350cI have really enjoyed listening (via Audible) and reading Anne of Green Gables again to refresh my memory of those wonderful adventures that Anne and her kindred spirit, best friend Diana, got up to. The hair dye that was meant to turn her hair black but instead it went green, so her hair had to be chopped off. The time they decided to re-enact Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott and Anne sunk Mr Barry’s flat (boat). I have to say, though, that my favorite stories were her battles with Gilbert Blythe in the schoolroom and the story of how their loathing turned to mutual respect and then, to love.

I was thirteen when the movie was made in 1985 with Megan Follows in the title role. It took a few years to be shown in the UK but it gave me my first proper crush, Jonathan Crombie, who played Gilbert Blythe (tall, daRk, hAndsome — remind you of anyone?). I have the complete series on video, but no longer have a video recorder, so YouTube has been a wonderful resource, and I have sat for the last few evenings, catching up with the wonderful characterizations of Richard Farnsworth and Colleen Dewhurst as Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The film followed the book pretty carefully and whilst reading, I heard their voices in my head.

I always try to give books as presents. This Christmas was no exception. I purchased numerous copies of both Anne of Green Gables and Little Women (another favorite) and gave them to all the girls I know aged eight and above. My daughter had them both in her stocking from Father Christmas. I read her the story when she was much younger and I hope that my love for the book will encourage my own “Anne” (red hair, aged eleven, stubborn) to fall in love with it too.

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Rosiepig is the username of a middle-aged English woman with a thing about a particular tall, dark and handsome man. Married to a shorter, grey-haired and handsome man who is remarkably understanding about her slight obsession with Mr. Armitage. They have two great kids, an eleven-year-old daughter and a son who is six. She is the Practice Manager for their busy physio practice, but somehow also manages to look after three pigs, one sheep, two dogs, two cats and fifteen chickens.

~ by Servetus on February 28, 2014.

24 Responses to “Rosiepig loves Anne of Green Gables: spReAd the love book challenge guest post”

  1. Awwww Rosiepig, I love this book….and Gilbert Blythe 😉

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  2. I discovered “Anne of Green Gables” back in the early 90s thanks to a PBS fundraising marathon during college exam week. After exams were over, I proceeded to plow through the entire series of books. I, too, developed a slight crush on Jonathan Crombie/Gilbert Blythe.

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    • something so wonderful about these juvenile series, too — when I run across one now I remember that anticipation from my childhood of a whole tranche of books to love …

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  3. Somehow I missed out on reading this. I’m sure it would have appealed to my little girl self. Is it good for grown-ups?
    I think giving treasured books as presents to children is fabulous – so much more enduring than any play bauble that is shortly forgotten.
    Thanks for writing. How horrid to have your writing picked apart by the class! The teacher should have used an anonymous sample from a former class.

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    • Absolutely, as I mentioned above, you find different parts of the stories interesting as an adult. As a parent now to a stroppy 11 year old I look to see how Marilla treats Anne though I feel she copes better than I do!

      The English teacher was evil, she never liked me! I remember we had to learn a poem and we all stood in a line and recited it. She stood in front of me the whole time waiting for me to make a mistake and for once I had learnt it word perfectly, she seemed really disappointed when she coudn’t pick fault.

      Thank you for your lovely post.

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      • I never understood why, if you felt the need to humiliate a student, you’d teach in the first place …

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    • I think you would like them, Trudy …

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  4. Hey Rosie, that was a wonderful summary of the book and I love how you added in which parts were your favorites! My youngest sisters and I had a long running argument about the books because I found Anne, well, annoying (SORRY!!) and the idea of adults letting her talk like that, totally outside my experience and not easy to relate to. DON’T STOP READING YET!
    It was funny to me that my two youngest sisters (12 years younger) loved Anne and her adventures and saw much of themselves in her. Yes, we were raised by the same people. And YES, it is a book I’ve put in my own daughter’s hand. A wonderful, classic tale that every young girl should have the chance to experience! Thanks for the wonderful post.

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    • Thank you CarlyQ. I seem to find Anne more annoying now whereas I loved her as a child. I think I was just very jealous that she got to speak her mind regularly, that wasn’t an option in our house, I’m still not very good at saying what I feel. Must channel Anne more!

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  5. Hi Rosiepig 🙂 I dreamed about Prince Edward Iseland *sigh*
    Sentimental and funny book, one of my favorite.

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  6. Reblogged this on Ancient Armitage and commented:
    Another fantastic book recommendation!

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  7. Thanks, Rosiepig, for writing this piece and thanks, Servetus, for hosting it!

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  8. Thanks for the link love, Jazz and Obscura.

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  9. […] and I’m hoping we can break that record this year. On this blog, Rosiepig blogged about what Anne of Green Gables, meant to her, and I wrote about A Wrinkle in Time and Hop on Pop. Readers who have a favorite […]

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  10. […] our fellow Richard Armitage fan, Rosiepig? She was among the audience this weekend in Leeds and delivers her own unique and well-written […]

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