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 the Island. You can read my thoughts on the first two books here and here.
Anne of the Island has always been one of my favourites in the Anne series. When I was younger, it was mainly the romance between Anne and Gilbert that I loved. But, reading it now, there was so much more to appreciate.
I loved reading about Anne’s experiences at Redmond College, more meaningful to me now, knowing what it is like to go away to University. And now that I am somewhat familiar with Dalhousie University (Redmond College) and Halifax (Kingsport), I can more easily picture the places where Anne and her friends spent their time; Point Pleasant Park, the Old Burying Ground (St. John’s Cemetery in the book), and even the street on which their beloved Patty’s Place is situated. I still have a hard time picturing them watching a football game, though.
In this novel, Anne discovers that not all marriage proposals are as romantic as she had imagined them to be, once upon a time. In fact, they can be down-right ugly and uncomfortable. She also experiences the pain of being rejected as a writer, when she sends in her story, Averil’s Atonement. Then, the humiliation of having it turned into an advertisement.
Her humiliation was the consequence of her own ideals only, for Avonlea folks thought it quite splendid that she should have won the prize. Her many friends regarded her with honest admiration; her few foes with scornful envy. Josie Pye said she believed Anne Shirley had just copied the story; she was sure she remembered reading it in a paper years before. The Sloanes, who had found out or guessed that Charlie had been “turned down,” said they didn’t think it was much to be proud of; almost anyone could have done it, if she tried. Aunt Atossa told Anne she was very sorry to hear she had taken to writing novels; nobody born and bred in Avonlea would do it; that was what came of adopting orphans from goodness knew where, with goodness knew what kind of parents. Even Mrs. Rachel Lynde was darkly dubious about the propriety of writing fiction, although she was almost reconciled to it by that twenty-five dollar check. “It is perfectly amazing, the price they pay for such lies, that’s what.”
In her post, Eva talks about Anne of the Island as being more melancholy than she remembers, which is certainly true. There were a lot of tears for me in this book (which is really just an indication of how good it is, and why it is one of my favourites). Anne experiences the death of a friend, the wedding of another, a heart-breaking proposal from Gilbert (come on, you guys, wasn’t it awful?), and she visits the very house she was born in.
Anne went up the narrow stairs and into that little east room with a full heart. It was a shrine to her. Here her mother had dreamed the exquisite, happy dreams of motherhood; here that red sunrise light had fallen over them both in the sacred hour of birth; here her mother had died. Anne looked about her reverently, her eyes dim with tears. It was for her one of the jeweled hours of life that gleam out radiantly forever in memory.
Then, of course, there is the end. What we have all been waiting for seems to go by so fast in the last few pages of the book. But, don’t worry, we will be made to wait yet again as we read about Anne in Summerside in the next book, Anne of Windy Poplars, while Gilbert goes back to school to become a doctor. They are very sensible about waiting, aren’t they?
Here are some of my favourite quotes from the book:
… things seen pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
“But feeling is so different from knowing. My common sense tells me all you can say, but there are times when common sense has no power over me. Common nonsense takes possession of my soul.”
“They (cats) are so nice and selfish. Dogs are too good and unselfish. They make me feel uncomfortable. But Cats are gloriously human.
But Gilbert’s visits were not what they once were. Anne almost dreaded them. It was very disconcerting to look up in the midst of a sudden silence and find Gilbert’s hazel eyes fixed upon her with a quite unmistakable expression in their grave depths; and it was still more disconcerting to find herself blushing hotly and uncomfortable under his gaze, just as if – just as if – well, it was very embarrassing. Anne wished herself back at Patty’s Place, where there was always somebody else about to take the edge off a delicate situation. At Green Gables Marilla went promptly to Mrs. Lynde’s domain when Gilbert came and insisted on taking the twins with her. The significance of this was unmistakable and Anne was in a helpless fury over it.
“I wouldn’t want to marry anybody who was wicked, but I think I’d like it if he could be wicked and wouldn’t.”
“… how horrible it is that people have to grow up – and marry – and change!”
Recently, I came across Sarah Emsley’s blog where she has written delightful posts about Anne attending Redmond College, and the Old Burying Ground where Anne spent time roaming and sitting under the trees. Just in time for this month’s book.
My copy of Anne of the Island:
I have always wondered if the man on the front is supposed to be Gilbert or Roy? I prefer to think of him as Roy, because I don’t think he looks like Gilbert. Then again, the Anne doesn’t really look like Anne.
Which of these covers do her justice?