guest post: ‘befriending anne’


“Befriending Anne”  

by Hamlette

I was about seven when I first met Anne Shirley.  A friend of my mother’s introduced us – she brought her copy of one of the books along when she and her kids came over one day.  My mom had not read the Anne of Green Gables books, and her friend gushed so glowingly about them that my mom got the first one from the library and read it herself, then read it aloud to my brother and I, then read us the next book and the next.  I can remember we would all laugh so hard over some of Anne’s escapades that Mom had to stop reading, both because we couldn’t hear her over our laughter, and because she was laughing so hard she couldn’t actually read coherently anyway. 

Our library happened to have the old black-and-white movie version of Anne of Green Gables (1934), so we watched that, but it failed to delight us the way the books did.  However, right about that same time, our PBS station aired the Kevin Sullivan movie version of Anne of Green Gables (1985) in preparation for the upcoming sequel.  I remember being a little hesitant about watching it, given my less-than-enthusiastic experience with the 1930s version, but as Matthew Cuthburt (Richard Farnsworth) had driven Anne (Megan Follows) through the White Way of Delight, I started to be pretty optimistic.  By the time Marilla (Coleen Dewhurst) agreed to let her stay, I was hooked.  The characters, the clothing, the sets and locations — everything about that movie was not just a good match to what I’d imagined when I heard my mom reading the stories, but in some cases they were actually better — more lush, prettier, and nicer. 

hayworths asked for: Anne of Green Gables | Orange:

I think that Anne of Green Gables was my first experience of seeing a movie version of a book I had read already.  While I didn’t like the 1930s adaptation much, and haven’t seen it since, I have watched both the 1985 movie and the 1988 sequel ever so many times.  My dad loves them more than any of the rest of us, and we went through a time where we watched it with him at least once a month, and my brother got sick of it.   

Not long after, my grandparents gave me the eight Anne books, four for Christmas and four for my birthday, and I have read all of them multiple times.  The first four have always been my favorites:  Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne of Windy Poplars.  The later books make me a little melancholy, a reminder that even the Anne Shirleys of this world grow up eventually, though perhaps I might like them better now that I’ve been an adult for quite a while now and discovered it’s not quite so bad as I’d feared.  I plan to re-read all eight in 2016, and we shall see if my perceptions have changed any.  I’ve only recently learned of the existence of a ninth Anne book, The Blythes are Quoted, and hope to read that as well.   

I identify with Anne Shirley a great deal.  We both have strong, vivid imaginations and actively work to cultivate them.  We both love to write.  We’re both prone to getting into odd scrapes by accident, though I’ve happily never drowned a mouse in pudding sauce or walked anyone’s ridgepole.  I’m more sensible than Anne, and she’s more enamored of romance than I, but I think that if we ever happened to truly meet, we would discover we were kindred spirits. 

Anne of Green Gables:

24 thoughts on “guest post: ‘befriending anne’

    1. Thank you, Natalie! And yes, both my parents love Anne, and I think my brother probably would grudgingly admit he does too. My husband is not adverse to her — our first daughter’s middle name is Anne 🙂


      1. Awww, her middle name is Anne? How sweet! I’ve always hoped to name my one-day daughter Anne or have Anne as a middle name. 🙂

        You seem to have a very wonderful family with great taste in stories. 😉


  1. I was just enthralled when I first discovered Anne and inhaled all of the books as fast as I could. I never knew about the last two books for at least another ten years. I was ecstatic to learn that Anne and her family’s story hadn’t ended.
    I first watched the two Anne movies all in one sitting and cried my way through them. Like you my dad LOVES Anne. He watches the movies on a semi-regular basis and has given away the movies as gifts.


    1. Jennifer, “inhaled” is a good way to describe how we read the Anne books that first time. And it so happens that I’m giving the first movie on DVD to a young friend of ours for Christmas this year! She’s 10, and I think she’s going to really dig it. Hope so!


  2. A great post, Hamlette!!

    Anne is definitely a friend, even though she is fictional.
    When I read the books the first time I didn’t identify particularly with her though I loved her. It wasn’t until a few years ago i finally realised how alike we are with our wild imaginations and liking to live in dream worlds occasionally.

    Looking forward to hear what you think of the books when rereading them.


    1. Thanks, Rose!

      I think I identified with Anne more as a kid than I do now, but I still delight in her company. It’ll be interesting when I reread them to see if my perceptions have changed.


  3. Ah, this post made me kind of nostalgic, actually. 😛 Funny, when my mum read it to me first, I can remember she laughed a lot too. Montgomery’s books are really quite witty, aren’t they?

    Beautiful post, Rachel!

    ~ Naomi


  4. I liked “Rilla” a lot — although it’s probably only technically an “Anne” book. My least favorite is “House of Dreams”. If you read LMM’s short story collections, you’ll see bits and pieces of this and the other two “kids” books all over the place. Kind of steals the magic from them.


    1. Interesting, TEC4. I just read a vast collection of LMM’s short stories, but I guess it’s been so long since I read the later Anne books that I didn’t particularly catch any similarities.


  5. Oh, it definitely doesn’t matter if a kindred spirit is fictional. 🙂

    Anne is lots of fun, though I don’t think I appreciate her as much as other people do. I haven’t read any of the earlier books in the series for a while, which is probably a big reason for that. I need to do that!


      1. That’s so true! I personally find that I relate to Rilla better than I do to Anne, which is probably why Rilla of Ingleside is my favorite of the series. But like you said, that just adds variety 🙂


  6. Great post Hamlette!

    I love it when you discover a kindred spirit through reading. As Jessica says, who cares that they’re fictional? That’s not really what matters, y’know 😀


  7. That’s one of the best things about reading, I think–finding characters you can identify with so strongly. Like you said, they can become your dear, dear friends, even though they aren’t technically “real” (but who cares about such nonsense as that, anyway?) 🙂


    1. I consider Anne a friend too! She is very real! As real as anyone from history. (Pst. Margaret Mitchell.) Because we only know them through the words left behind. So, the same. 🙂


      1. Jillian, that’s kind of true, isn’t it? We have more knowledge of some fictional characters than we do of real historical people. Like Shakespeare — we know almost nothing about him, but so much about his characters.

        Liked by 1 person

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