Monday, June 26, 2017

Anne of Green Gables

I’m not sure why I didn’t review these books when I read them to Miss 8 & Miss 11. They loved them. We read the first two aloud Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. Miss 9* went on to read Anne of Windy Poplars herself.

As they are old-fashioned and take some explaining at points, for the girls’ age they were better read aloud and slowly. I was delighted with them, having never read them in detail myself. (I found Anne rather annoying and long-winded when I tried to read them as a child!) I had seen the mini-series but never realised the depth of the books. L.M Montgomery’s writing is beautiful to read aloud, it ebbs and flows with wonderful expression and description. She is also very humorous, with irony and dry wit scattered throughout. I often found myself chuckling as I read them, and if the girls didn’t get it, it was fun to try to explain. There is also a depth to their faith and belief that is hardly alluded to in the mini-series, as well as many biblical references, such as having a ‘Job’ day (a very bad day).

Personally, considering our own life choices, I loved this quote:
“I’m very glad they’ve called Mr Allan. I liked him because his sermon was interesting and he prayed as if he meant it and not just as if he did it because he was in the habit of it. Mrs Lynde says he isn’t perfect, but she says we shouldn’t expect a perfect minister for seven hundred and fifty dollars a year, and anyhow his theology is sound because she questioned him thoroughly on all the points of doctrine. And she knows his wife’s people and they are most respectable and the women are all good housekeepers. Mrs Lynde says that sound doctrine in a man and good housekeeping in a woman make an ideal combination for a minister’s family.” The new minister and his wife were a young, pleasant-faced couple, still in their honeymoon, and full of all good and beautiful enthusiasm for their chosen life’s work.  (Anne of Green Gables)

We then watched the mini-series (by Sullivan Productions), the one I knew as a child, produced in 1985. As recalled, it was lovely, and a pretty good adaption of the books. We moved onto Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987), which extended the story beyond what we had read in the books, and according to various websites, adds extra material different from the books, but it’s still enjoyable to watch, and has the same endearing aspects of Anne in it.

We should have stopped there, but unknowingly pushed on to Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (1999) where Anne and Gil live in New York for a time, are then married, and details her search for him on the WWI battlefields. It was for a more mature audience, it was rated M, showed a fair amount of battle gore and tension, and Miss 9.5 found it too much. Upon reflection it was clear it wasn’t based on the books, the feel of it was just too different, and my research since shows it was an original production, changing much of the timing and events of the books. I can see why the production house did it, the earlier series were so popular and they managed to have both Megan Follows (Anne) and Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert) return in their roles. The girls may well return to the first two to re-watch them, no-one is interested in seeing the third again.

Miss 9 is much more interested in continuing with the books so we’ll do that instead!

* I realise all these numbers change throughout this post, it reflects the age when they did it, not the age they are now!

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