I have not read Anne of Green Gables since I was about ten, and I’m delighted to report that it is a book that offers as much enjoyment to an adult reader as to a child. As a child, I threw myself wholeheartedly into Anne’s delights and misfortunes, but as an adult, I am more able to appreciate the abundant humor of the novel.
Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are an elderly brother and sister with a farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. They have taken a momentous decision to adopt an orphan boy to help Matthew on the farm. They sent word to an acquaintance who went to adopt a girl, and she has brought an orphan back for them on the train.
But when Matthew arrives at the station, he finds not an orphan boy but a girl, a funny looking, skinny, red-headed girl. Matthew is a shy and reticent man, and he sees nothing to do but take the girl home and let Marilla break the news that there’s been a mistake. So, they set off home for Green Gables, the excitable Anne Shirley prattling all the way back.
When Anne learns she isn’t wanted after all, she is devastated. But when Marilla takes her to see another woman who might want an orphan girl, she can’t quite bring herself to leave Anne with the mean-mouthed woman with a reputation for mistreating the help (as an orphan would often be regarded at that time, not as a member of the family). Despite her better judgment, Marilla decides to keep Anne.
Thus begins this delightful novel about a young, imaginative girl who is always running into trouble. For Anne is romantic and dreamy and full of big ideas that often go wrong. The delight for me as an adult in reading this sentimental tale is the dry humor of Marilla, as she learns to love Anne and all her mischief. This is a lovely and fun book to read, particularly if you love any other volatile little red-headed girls.