An Extraordinary Book of Belonging

Anne of Green GablesMy husband, Rob, and I recently visited Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. It’s our second time visiting Cavendish, the place that inspired the novelist Lucy Maude Montgomery in the writing of her children’s classic, Anne of Green Gables.

The home, Green Gables, is furnished with period furniture of the time and on the seat of the buggy parked outside, there’s a straw hat with red braids attached for any tourist to try on and pretend they’re Anne of Green Gables. I tried it on, sat for a photo, but the hat looked so silly on me, that I quickly deleted the picture. But it was fun trying it on.

Back of the house, there are trails through the woods that are featured in this novel, like the Haunted Woods and Lover’s Lane. They were especially delightful at this time of year with the leaves changing colours.

The Story

Anne of Green Gables

Anne Shirley’s Bedroom

 Anne of Green Gables is the story of Anne Shirley, an orphan girl, who arrives at the home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a bachelor and his spinster sister, after they had requested an orphan boy to help them on their farm on Prince Edward Island.

The First Novel I’d Read

It was the first novel I had ever read. I was eight and I recall sobbing about two-thirds of the way through. I won’t tell you why as there’s a chance you haven’t read it and are planning to get the book. I wouldn’t want to spoil the emotional journey for you.

The Character – Anne Shirley

Besides being an unexpected girl, Anne Shirley is a redhead with freckles and an audacious character with a love for extravagant words and a penchant for telling the truth even if it gets her in trouble. She speaks her mind at a time when girls were taught to be largely quiet and mind their manners.

Lucy Maude Montgomery used Evelyn Nesbitt, a popular model in the early 1900s, as inspiration for her character. She took her photo out of Metropolitan magazine and hung it on her wall.

Universal Appeal

Anne of Green GAnne of Green Gablesables, published in 1908, is no ordinary book. The fact that it has found universal appeal and a whole cottage industry was built around its characters and places suggests something extraordinary.  It’s become a timeless global hit, loved by both young and old.

 Anne of Green Gables has endured because it’s a universal story of belonging, of standing up for who you are and for what you believe in. It’s essentially the story of an outsider as personified by a girl who was supposed to be a boy arriving in the fictional place of Avonlea. This close-minded community is like so many others that have prejudices and rules that make it hard for anyone new to belong.

I loved this novel so much that I recently bought it again at Coho Books in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, an island on the opposite coast of Canada from Prince Edward Island.

 If you’ve read this wondrous novel, and have anything else to add—like what it meant to you—please leave a comment. Nothing like sharing the enjoyment of good books. 

10 thoughts on “An Extraordinary Book of Belonging

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      Jo, you won’t be disappointed. What’s curious is the fact this novel has attracted a huge following from Japanese readers. Bus loads of Japanese tourists are frequent visitors at Green Gables.

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      Amy, it certainly touched my heart when I was around twelve. It swept me away to this beautiful part of Canada and into the world of a young girl who was hoping to find a home. I had few books. I wish I could recall how I got this one. It made such an impact. And from the constant stream of visitors to the House of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island, it’s obviously affected so many.

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