Saturday, November 29, 2008

Anne Of Avonlea, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

This is the second in the series of the Anne of Green Gables novels by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Readers of the first novel will have been charmed by the precocious orphan Anne Shirley in the Green Gables novel. This second volume takes up the story of Anne’s beginning her work as a teacher in Avonlea.

The style of this volume pretty much follows the first, in that it’s essentially plotless. It ambles along, with new characters introduced and humorous incidents related. L.M Montgomery’s chief charm is that she can, quite simply, write. You get the impression that she begins her novels when inspiration takes hold, and has no pre-conceived idea of how she will finish her books.

The cheeky 11 year old Anne of the Green Gables is of course not present here, as Anne ends the novel close to 17 years of age, a young woman. Yet that is one of the major themes of this novel: change. Changes in relationships; changes in expectations of life. Anne regularly finds that the ideals she would like to impose on life must be revised in the face of reality. She even finds that what she expects of her own behaviour is a disappointment to herself.

It is this theme which gives Anne of Avonlea an almost bitter-sweet flavour as we watch Anne learn about the disappointments and blunt realities that life imposes on her dreams. This makes the second Anne book very much a book for grown ups. Perhaps a reflection of the author's adult experiences?

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