This book takes up where Anne of Green Gables left off, covering Anne’s first two years of teaching beginning at the tender age of 16. Her beloved Matthew is gone and Marilla has rented part of the farm and is having trouble with her eyesight. Neighbor Mrs. Lynde is still the town gossip though waylaid a bit by her husband’s illness. Anne and Gilbert study together some times in hopes of pursuing college in the future, and Anne still has outings with her friends, mainly her “bosom friend” Diana Barry. Yet Anne has a new responsibility in teaching a classroom full of young charges.
I enjoyed seeing Anne’s natural enthusiasm and wonder mature a bit. I found the changes in the people and situations very natural, the course things might take in any young person’s life as they’re in that transition from youth to adulthood.
I had completely forgotten about Marilla’s taking in young orphans Davy and Dora from my previous reading. At first I thought the book lagged a little bit in recounting various “scrapes,” but by the time Montgomery introduced Lavendar Lewis (whom I had also forgotten), I was once again “hooked.” Her story ended perhaps a bit too perfectly and fairy-tale-ish, but, really, it was the ending I hoped for. I can’t imagine her story ending any other way without changing the whole tone of the book. And “happily ever after” is nice some times. I wasn’t terribly interested in Anne’s grumpy new neighbor, Mr. Harrison, at first, but later in the story I was. Anne’s visit from author Mrs. Morgan is very Anne-ish.
The book ends with yet another series of major changes facing Anne, changes that make her “glad with her head, sorry with her heart,” and yet also with a little glimmer of the joys to come.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book:
Anne: “It does people good to have to do things they don’t like…in moderation” (p. 55).
Mr. Harrison, of Mrs. Lynde: “She can put a whole sermon, text, comment, and application, into six words, and throw it at you like a brick” (p. 66). (Sadly, I’ve known people who take great delight in having that ability.)
Anne: “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid and wonderful and exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string” (p. 160).
She held over him the unconscious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, wields over her friends, an influence which would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals and which she would as certainly lose if she were ever false to them (p. 168).
Mr. Harrison: “You’ve got a very expressive face, Anne; your thoughts come out on it like print” (p. 221).
She must leave many sweet things behind…all the little simple duties and interests which had grown so dear to her…which she had glorified into beauty and delight by the enthusiasm she had put into them (p. 230)
Charlotta the Fourth to Anne after a fanciful description: “Oh, Miss Shirley, ma’am, what is that in prose?” (p. 258).
Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; perhaps…perhaps…love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath (p. 276).
I’m looking forward to Anne of the Island next. I had hoped to read through to Anne’s House of Dreams this month, thinking that book was the fourth, but I just noticed yesterday it was the fifth. So we’ll see! I am making myself wait to rewatch the DVD of Anne of Green Gables; The Sequel until I finish the books that it covers, but already I can see that it veered from the books more than I thought.
I’m enjoying revisiting this series again in all its wholesomeness and sweetness.