I have several copies of Anne of Green Gables but my most treasured volume has a battered blue cover with the title in faded gold lettering. I’ve had to tape it back together several times. The flyleaf is inscribed with my Aunt Vi’s name and the year 1942. That’s when she received the book as a gift. Two decades later she gave the book to me and I’ve read it many times since. At age ten I became a devotee of Anne’s and in short order read all eight books in the Lucy Maud Montgomery series.
I read Anne of Green Gables to my oldest son when he was six. I wanted him to hear some stories with girls as the main character and Anne immediately engaged him with her hijinks and mischief making. He often begged for an extra chapter before I tucked him into bed.
I taught six to nine year olds for a portion of my career and Anne of Green Gables was always one of the books I read aloud to them. There was rarely a dry eye in the house when we reached the chapter where Matthew, Anne’s adopted father dies. Even the toughest boys in the bunch could be caught wiping away a tear and hoping no one would see.
One year I had a boy in my grade four class named Ashton who confided when we were about half way through the novel that he was convinced he and I were “kindred spirits’, a term Anne uses to describe people who understand her. It was one of the finest compliments I received during my career.
I visited Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace in Prince Edward Island in 2002. I toured her cousins’ home. It was the model for Green Gables in her books. I was lucky enough to have Carolyn Collins, a Lucy Maud Montgomery biographer as my guide. She provided all kinds of interesting information. Apparently Winston Churchill, with whom Montgomery shared a birthday, was a fan of her books and wrote to tell her so. As a child Montgomery met Sir John A McDonald, the Canadian prime minister. Collins also confided that one of the Montgomery journals contained some very steamy passages about Montgomery’s attraction to a young man named Herman. Montgomery didn’t marry him because he wasn’t her intellectual equal.
I still have the program for the performance of the musical Anne of Green Gables we saw at Confederation Hall in Charlottetown. My husband Dave was singing along under his breath on many of the numbers since he had directed a production of Anne of Green Gables at Elmdale School where he was a teacher.
When I worked for the Winnipeg Free Press one of my faith page columns was about the theological insights to be found in Anne of Green Gables. I republished that column as a blog post two years ago and it has been read nearly 4000 times.
Just goes to show how popular Anne still is.