Lindsey at Reeder Reads is hosting a Green Gables Readalong, in which we are reading one Anne book a month between January and August. This month we are talking about Anne of Avonlea.
Anne of Avonlea fills us in on the two years in which Anne is living at home while teaching at the Avonlea school (age 16-18). Anne is very much the same as she has always been – getting herself into scrapes, and going on about the things she imagines. What’s different about this book, though, is that we get to meet some new characters of Avonlea village, beyond those we already know so well.
The most significant new characters in the book are Davy and Dora, the 6-year-old twins who come to live with Anne and Marilla at Green Gables. When I first read this book, many years ago, I resented the fact that Davy and Dora had come to Green Gables. I guess I didn’t like the thought of anyone taking Anne’s place. But now, I can appreciate the joy and company the twins bring to their home, and the many hilarious adventures and questions of little Davy.
We also get to know some of Anne’s school students, her new cranky neighbour and his pet parrot, Miss Lavender and Echo Lodge, and we follow the progress of the Avonlea Village Improvement Society.
Now that Anne is older, there is also a bit more ‘romance’ in this book; Diana and Fred, Miss Lavender and Mr. Irving, and Charlie Sloane and Gilbert who are both vying for Anne’s attention. In her Anne of Green Gables post, Lindsey talked about how patient Gilbert is over the years. Well, he is still waiting. Another two years. How long will Anne keep him waiting in Book III?
For me, though, the best thing about this book is the writing. Here are a few quotes I like:
Diana: An old house with its windows gone makes me think of something dead with its eyes picked out.
Anne: I think an old, deserted house is such a sad sight. It always seems to me to be thinking about its past and mourning for its old-time joys.
Isn’t it something to have started a soul along a path that may end in Shakespeare and Paradise Lost?
About the Avonlea Village Improvement Society:
Mr. Elisha Wright was reported to have said that a more appropriate name for the organization would be Courting Club. Mrs. Hiram Sloane declared she had heard the Improvers meant to plow up all the roadsides and set them out with geraniums. Mr. Levi Boulter warned his neighbours that the Improvers would insist that everybody pull down his house and rebuild it after plans approved by the society. Mr. James Spencer sent them word that he wished they would kindly shovel down the church hill. Eben Wright told Anne that he wished the Improvers could induce old Josiah Sloane to keep his whiskers trimmed. Mr. Lawrence Bell said he would whitewash his barns if nothing else would please them, but he would not hang lace curtains in his cowstable windows. Mr. Major Spencer asked Clifton Sloane, an Improver who drove the milk to the Carmody cheese factory, if it was true that everybody would have to have his milk-stand hand-painted next summer and keep an embroidered centerpiece on it.
Mr. Harrison’s habit of being outspoken:
Mr. Harrison: You must excuse me, Anne. I’ve got a habit of being outspoken and folks mustn’t mind it.
Anne: But they can’t help minding it. And I don’t think it’s any help that it’s your habit. What would you think of a person who went about sticking pins and needles into people and saying, ‘Excuse me, you mustn’t mind it… it’s just a habit I’ve got.’
Davy: Anne, I believe you’re just talking nonsense.
Anne: Of course I was, dear boy. Don’t you know that it is only very foolish folk who talk sense all the time?
Miss Lavender: But, Anne, a broken heart in real life isn’t half as dreadful as it is in books. It’s a good deal like a bad tooth… It takes spells of aching and gives you a sleepless night now and then, but between times it lets you enjoy life and dreams and echoes and peanut candy as if there were nothing the matter with it.
Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; perhaps… perhaps… love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.
Mrs. Rachel Lynde: … I’d rather live at the bottom of a well than leave Avonlea.
In my Anne of Green Gables post, I had a look at many of the book covers over the years. It was so fun, that I couldn’t resist doing it again, but not in as much detail. This is just a small sampling.
These aren’t awful, but they just don’t look right. In the first one, they all look too stern. In the second, she looks like she’s sitting in a café in the 1970s. In the third, she looks like she’s on the prairies. What do you think?
What are your thoughts on Anne of Avonlea, or any of its covers?