Currently Reading: All Things Anne

Note: the following post contains a lot of random musings about everyone’s favorite imaginative redhead–I would like to emphasize the word “random.” Enjoy! 

I finally carved out the time to read (almost) the entire Anne of Green Gables series. FINALLY.

Took me long enough. I was inspired by Netflix’s adaptation of the beloved series–while it was grittier than the books, the series did capture Anne’s ability to survive life’s hardships through optimism.

Disclaimer: while I loooooooove reading and writing and all things literary (former English major and current creative writing grad student here), I’m the kind of girl who can read a whole lot and then fall into a year-long slump in which I can’t seem to find reading material I truly enjoy. It’s been one of those years, but I’m working on it.

Anne has helped me discover reading again; returning to her world is like taking the first sip of morning coffee, sleeping in on a weekday, or having nothing on a must-do list.

I just love her. I love her, I love her, I love her.

Anne is so plucky and ambitious, especially early on. I adore the third book in the series–she attends Redmond College and learns what it means to live on her own away from Green Gables (with a group of delightful “chums,” of course), and she finally opens her eyes and her heart to the boy who has always loved her. She becomes a young principal of an entire school in book four, and she continues to win the heart of every reluctant soul around her. She marries Gilbert in book five and establishes her quaint and Anne-ish “House of Dreams.”

I have to admit, I love Anne the most when she’s single, books one through four. I love how she grapples with the world’s challenges on her own, and I love the relationships she forms with others along the way. Anne has a way of connecting with the misunderstood among society, and audiences aren’t treated to those relationships too much after she is married. Most often those difficult, “kooky,” or tormented souls are her “kindred spirits.” I love that about her–she’s unafraid of going against the grain, and she can win almost any heart with her unconquerable spirit.

Anne still has a way with others when she’s married, but she’s certainly more confined–not necessarily by Gilbert or her children, but by society at that time. Even though she was a successful educator and loved the world of academia, she does as societal custom requires (at least for the era) when she enters the world of marriage. She keeps an impeccable house: she grows gardens, sews clothes, has and raises babies, and keeps the House of Dreams and Ingleside in tip-top shape. She’s the matriarch of her little home(s), and while I know she loves it, I miss her free-spirited Green Gables or Redmond days.

Anne begins to settle as she grows older, which is both admirable (why not be content with the life you have?) but also bittersweet. She forgoes her childhood dreams of successful novel authorship, settling for the few publications in ladies’ magazines and newspapers. Those are still a wonderful accomplishments, but I wish she could have done a little bit of everything–I believe Anne could write the next great Canadian novel and still be a fantastic wife and mother.

No matter. Anne still has my heart, and I aspire to embody her optimism and grace.  Revisiting Anne’s world has been so refreshing and so inspiring–L.M. Montgomery’s dreamy prose and Anne’s spirit is like a drink of cool water on a sweltering Prince Edward Island summer day.

Does P.E.I. ever even experience a good swelter? Probably not, but the effect of the Anne series on my soul is that of contentment and delight nonetheless.

What are you currently reading? I could use some suggestions for future library excursions.

As always, have a magical, imaginative, and zip-a-dee-do-dah day, my friends.

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The Importance of Imagination (Inspired by Anne Shirley)

I have just finished reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time. I’ve always been a bookworm, but I tended to avoid the really great classic children’s literature during my actual childhood. I’ve taken it upon myself to read some of the good stuff I might have missed.

Anne of Green Gables was first on my list, and I have completely fallen in love with it. Anne has cast her imaginative spell on me just as she charms her way into the hearts of the unsuspecting citizens of Avonlea, including her “kindred spirit” Matthew (my heart!) and strict, but malleable, Marilla. I just love the dreamy way Anne talks and her emotional involvement in the things she loves. I love her growth throughout the book and I love that she’s a romantic, imaginative girl who isn’t afraid to have ambitions, to be herself.

My momma has always compared me to little miss Anne Shirley of Green Gables. I can see why–I’m a tad dramatic, I’ve always used big words, and I’ve always kind of been an “out there” kid. I used to play “pretend” constantly. I remember practicing “dreamy” faces in the mirror because I wanted to match the descriptions of my favorite heroines in the books I read. I thought living in “olden times” (as I would call them) would be an absolute dream. This was before I realized that “olden times” had no indoor plumbing. Or air conditioning.

I was an imaginative little mess.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I miss the constant daydreaming of childhood. I daydream now, but my mind often wonders about my unknown future–I don’t often daydream about “lovely” things, about “romantic” things as Anne refers to them. I don’t often imagine fantastical things; I drift off into some other dimension still worrying about the realities in this dimension.

It’s time to bring back some childlike imagination,  to let my mind wander into an abyss of color, possibility, and glorious improbability. Sometimes thinking about things that overreach the realm of reality prepares the mind to deal with the realities we actually face.

I’m not sure if that makes sense. But it definitely feels right.

So. Let’s all take a hint from little Anne Shirley. Take some time today to space out and imagine lovely things. Let your creativity soar, and appreciate all the beautiful things this world has to offer, just like Anne.

And now, a few of my favorite quotes from this glorious classic, all spoken by Anne herself:

  • “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
  • “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it?”
  • “Young men are all very well in their place, but it doesn’t do to drag them into everything, does it?”
  • And, my favorite: “Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them–that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

I’m so glad I decided to revisit the neglected children’s classics of my childhood. Without the decision to do so, I would have never encountered such a lovely little book that encourages girls of all ages to exercise their imaginations and push beyond the limitations society sometimes creates. Anne’s imagination was her asset that aided her in so many areas of life; let’s all take the time to mimic Anne Shirley and drift off into the land of improbability in order to make our dreams an inevitable part of our future.