"But if you call me Anne, please call me Anne with an ‘e.’"
Anne of Green Gables by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of the foremost timeles...more"But if you call me Anne, please call me Anne with an ‘e.’"
Anne of Green Gables by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of the foremost timeless, and ageless, classics of twentieth century literature, spanning effortlessly across decades and various age groups. While not her only work of fiction, this first installment of what would become known as the “Anne series” was undoubtedly her most notable.
What began as a serial for a Sunday school paper, quickly became one of the most-beloved children’s stories, and spurred an entire series, numerous side stories, as well as several movies, television series, and theater productions. The depth of this world that the author developed inside the fictional, small town of Avonlea, within her birthplace of Prince Edward Island, and the community within it, is so lush and rich, it is not long at all before you are transported into this world.
Based in the latter half of the 19th century, it chronicles the first five years of life in Avonlea for a young orphan named Anne Shirley. Eleven years old when the story opens, it is difficult to dislike this awkward and outspoken girl, who immediately endears to the heart. With her red hair and temper to match, which readers learn are the bane of her existence, as well as her talkative nature and an imagination that has consistently gotten her into a world of trouble, she has never truly fit in anywhere from the time she was three months old when both her parents suddenly died of typhoid fever.
Having read this novel for the first time as an adult, married with a child of my own, I was not expecting it to have the effect it did. To be able to relate to a young orphan of eleven at the age of twenty seemed unfathomable to me. However, from the very first page, I was drawn into this story, even without the immediate introduction of Anne herself.
The strongest point within the novel is not simply the story of this young girl, but the characters within it. There are few novels that can sustain such a menagerie of strong “secondary” characters, without leaving the reader feeling overwhelmed with detail. While each one of the characters in the novel is vitally important and left a remarkable and unique mark on the story, the relationships they share with this girl are still individual and believable.
Beginning with Rachel Lynde, the meddling neighbor of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, the anticipated arrival of Anne is set up incredibly well. We see just how much of an impact this child will have on this small, quiet town as the woman observes the odd behavior of the shy, reclusive bachelor. She says:
“‘I'll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marilla where he's gone and why,’" the worthy woman finally concluded. “‘He doesn't generally go to town this time of year and he never visits; if he'd run out of turnip seed he wouldn't dress up and take the buggy to go for more; he wasn't driving fast enough to be going for a doctor. Yet something must have happened since last night to start him off. I'm clean puzzled, that's what, and I won't know a minute's peace of mind or conscience until I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea today.’"
Matthew Cuthbert, expecting to arrive at Bright River to retrieve a young orphan boy to help on the farm, is surprised to only find the skinny, freckled redhead there waiting for him. Yet the bond that immediately grows between the two of them on the drive back to Green Gables undeniably sets the course for the remainder of the story. Her constant chatter is, for once, a relief to someone and he even admits to enjoying it, as well as being amused by her imaginative labels on seemingly ordinary things, such as "White Way of Delight" for The Avenue and "Lake of Shining Waters" for Barry's Pond.
Marilla Cuthbert, on the other hand, becomes just as much of a key character as Anne herself, yet her stern, hardened exterior causes the attachment to the girl herself to be far more gradual. Upon learning of the mistake made, her initial reaction is shock at the dramatic, talkative nature of the girl, and she intends to send her back. However, she quickly learns that once Anne Shirley touches your life, you are irrevocably changed.
Much the same can be said of her "bosom friend," Diana Barry. Anne encourages Diana's world of imagination, which beforehand had been frowned upon by her mother, and the friendship formed between them is extraordinarily palpable. Then of course, Gilbert Blythe, with whom she forms a complex relationship. From the moment he calls her "carrots," unaware of her intense dislike for her red hair, and she in turn smashes her slate over his head, a rivalry is sparked between them, one that brings out the best—and worst—in each other.
Last but not least is Anne herself, who in many respects is an exemplary demonstration of how courage and perseverance can guide you toward any path you choose, and also to never judge a book by its cover. Throughout her life she was labeled by society; despite her high intelligence, her outspoken nature and the fact that she was an orphan child never allowed her the opportunity to thrive. This one character evokes a myriad of emotions from the reader from the moment she steps into the lives of the Cuthberts. You join in her exhilaration and excitement, experience her “depths of despair,” laugh at her antics, and cry at her heartbreaks.
Each time I’ve read this wonderful book, I’ve found myself turning the pages as eagerly as the first time I read it; I'm always anxious to see what Anne Shirley would get herself into—and subsequently out of—next. Containing one of the most relateable leading characters ever written, this incredible novel has survived the generations with Anne’s beautiful combination of strength, determination, and insecurities with which readers of any age can correlate. Whether you're a young child coming to age along with her, or an adult reading through and remembering when, this is a story that can easily be enjoyed time and time again for many years to come.
Mark Twain once said Montgomery’s Anne was “the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice.”
Lucy Maud Montgomery published Anne of Green Gables in 1908. The popularity of her book led to eight sequels, a movie adaptation, several miniseries, the television series Road to Avonlea and most recently an animated series.
Montgomery was the first female in Canada to be named a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in England and was invested in the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
Dawn is the author of 13 online stories. Originally from Western Massachusetts, now resides in Arizona with her son. Enjoys writing, reading and playing video games.
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The first time I read Beowulf, I hated it. Not in the "it's a little difficult and linguistically annoying but I can suffer through it" kind of way, e...moreThe first time I read Beowulf, I hated it. Not in the "it's a little difficult and linguistically annoying but I can suffer through it" kind of way, either. To a first year senior English teacher with an enduring love of the classics, the contradictory epic poem of Beowulf encapsulated everything I despised concerning so called "heroism" - unnecessary and flagrant violence in the name of personal glory and arrogant cavemen types arbitrarily wielding weapons and words. I can get down with some magic, with some monsters, with some arm-ripping battle scenes, but the difficult language of the piece and unbridled arrogance of Beowulf himself is enough to make anybody gag. Two years ago I began teaching English IV to local seniors. Completely green and scared I would do my students a disservice in the world of English Literature, I figured the most appropriate work to begin with was, well, the beginning. Long held as the oldest piece of English literature, Beowulf was written down by an anonymous Anglo Saxon poet after the poem's long oral tradition. At the time of the poem's creation in Britain all literature included the violent and battle-driven tribes of the area as characters. The Celts were the preliminary tribe on the scene of Britain (where the name "Britons" comes from) but the Celts eventually clashed with the Roman Emperor Claudius for control of the British Isles. To his credit though Emperor Claudius' arrival in 43 AD did begin to merge a Roman appreciation of written history and poetry with the existing battle-driven societies, creating the first action tales of English literature. Several more tribes leant a hand, a battle axe, or the occasional Pagan holiday or three, but suffice it to say that all tribes inhabiting the British Isles enjoyed frequently kicking the holy dog crap out of each other and writing about it. The more I prepared to teach Beowulf the more I realized I owed Sir-What's-His-Name an apology for doubting the cultural and personal application of his work. To begin with, Beowulf is the paradigm for every epic hero in English literature, and I daresay culture. An epic poem by nature is ridiculously long, very wordy, and hard to navigate with your brain; but the beauty of the work and the common human experiences found throughout are meant to draw the reader in and keep her reading. For example, Homer's Iliad is 24 books worth of beautiful imagery, sword wielding nonsense between supposed heroes, some trickery, some tomfoolery, and a mutilated corpse; but the reader eventually realizes the commonality between the characters and the modern age, how relationships can strengthen or defeat, as well as some solid evidence for both sides of the fate and honor argument that plagued most Greek heroes. Perhaps arguably, epics are meant to draw the reader lovingly towards the protagonist through a series of victories, and then question that very loyalty through a significant character flaw. Epic poems traditionally include the elements of epic hero, epic quest, valorous deeds, great events, and divine intervention. My interest in Beowulf began to peak when I realized that the epic element of the hero was still very much alive and well today. American heroes are traditionally arrogant although there has been a recent fad in having the heroes realize their arrogance has disastrous effects, but usually all is well or at least resolved at the end of the story, film, or book. Think about James Bond, created by Ian Fleming but mass produced in America as the wanna-hump-a-lot gadget genius with the cool accent, the never cold sheets, and the proclivity to set off explosions every time he blinks. Think about Dan Briggs, the initial main character of the Mission Impossible series that lasted from 1966 until the 2000s. Briggs was the leader of a top secret agency taking on impossible missions for impossible amounts of lucrative awards that reinforced American materialism and quest for validation through accolades and possessions. This idea of glory and riches defining the people we consider heroes, however, is not an American creation. To me, this idea began with Beowulf. Beowulf as the epic hero is like a steroid version of Fabio complete with chain mail accessories, a booming bass voice that stalls men in their tracks, and a huge entourage of faithful fans. In the story, even Hrothgar's soldier who was guarding the cliff where Beowulf and his men first landed on their way to destroy Herot's monster problem couldn't help but comment that Beowulf was a "beautiful man" and that his weapons were pretty cool too. The case for Beowulf as epic hero begins when he tells his own chieftain that he is leaving to sail for Herot, the meadhall in another land plagued by a murderous monster that stalks and slaughters by night. This is an important introduction to Beowulf's character because in the tribal system one's chieftain is the only one capable of giving such an order or making such a proclamation - and Beowulf at this time is not a chieftain. Even so, Beowulf argues that he is the only one with the strength and strategy to defeat the monster Grendel, and tells (not requests) his chieftain that he is taking 14 of the best warriors with him to track down this monster. So not only is Beowulf possibly putting his own tribe in danger by leaving with the best warriors, he is not seeking Grendel out to help his homeboy Hrothgar. Beowulf leaves to go monster-chasing for personal glory. Luckily, he is supported by his chieftain, a warrior bloodline, and some pretty neat weaponry, but nonetheless Beowulf from the very beginning breaks from the tradition of his culture for personal gain. Hero? Even in Beowulf's primary encounter with Grendel, Beowulf puts himself and his own ambitions first. Beowulf orders his men to rest, tells them there is nothing to fear in the dark halls of Herot. Beowulf positions the men from the door to the walls of the meadhall, and as the only one awake Beowulf has the advantage of launching a surprise attack against Grendel when he chooses to strike. Grendel snatches the closest snack to the door, one of Beowulf's best men strategically placed to engage Grendel. In the end Beowulf fatally wounds the monster by ripping his arm from the socket, revisits Grendel in his underwater lair to finish the monster off, has a creepy and violent encounter with Grendel's mother, and in the end went down in his own history as what a hero should be - strong, unyielding, justifiably arrogant, and dedicated to the mission without wavering. The final scenes of the poem see Beowulf as an old man going after a dragon's treasure. While the dragon is said to have terrorized the township Beowulf eventually became chieftain of, it's implied that the main object of Beowulf's desire was the dragon's treasure, not solely the safety of his people. Even as aged and debilitated as he was, the now much-more-crooked-and-weakened version of Beowulf fought to the death against a dragon he never thought for an instant could best him. Even as an old man Beowulf goes down in a literal blaze of glory, setting an example for his men to follow. While Beowulf's arrogance may have reached nearly unbearable levels the reader is forced to contemplate his own itinerary for heroism, her own definition of virtuous acts, and whether one can serve himself and his people at the same. I teach my students the virtue of a classic piece of literature is whether it touches on a common human experience and withstands the test of time. Perhaps Beowulf is not meant to give solely an example of an ancient world hero; perhaps he is meant to make us challenge our own definition of heroism as well.
Fictionista Workshop would like to thank Catherine E. Entrocaso for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review of this novel.(less)
A novel that takes its reader on a grand adventure from the first page is sure to be a good one. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne is...moreA novel that takes its reader on a grand adventure from the first page is sure to be a good one. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne is just one example of such a novel. The story grabs you right from the beginning. Narrated by the main character's nephew, we are taken on a journey from beginning to end that is as exhilarating as any ride at Disneyland. Having dreamed of being an adventurer since he was a child, Mr. Verne managed to channel some of that energy into his writing, while at the same time pleasing his father and becoming a lawyer. The story opens with Professor Lidenbrock finding a book written in Icelandic. The book is not as important as what is found inside the book, however. A piece of parchment with a series of letters written in a Runic language is found tucked among the pages, setting off a frenzy for the professor (and by association, his nephew, Axel) to find out what the parchment says. Once Professor Lidenbrock and Axel translate what is written we get into the meat of the story - the journey to the center of the Earth. Their journey begins with Axel and Professor Lidenbrock going to Iceland, where they spend time trying to learn more about the person who wrote the note on the parchment. While there, they also acquire a guide who will go with them on their visit to Snafell and into the center of the Earth. He proves an excellent guide and his efforts are appreciated by the professor and his nephew. Throughout the book, the professor never gives up on getting to the center of the earth. He is bound and determined not to let anything stop him, despite the many protestations of Axel, who is ready to turn back at the first sign of trouble. I wouldn't label Axel a skeptic, but he is definitely more cautious than his uncle and tends to think something is going to go wrong. I know that those things would make the reader immediately label Axel a skeptic, but in the end he does come around to the adventure and is willing to see it through to the end. Throughout the story, the trio is faced with a variety of obstacles but they overcome all of them with grace and come out the other side for the better. It's hard to review this book without giving anything anyway. However, I will say this (without spoilers): I wish there were a sequel as this is one of the most well-written books I've read in a long time. Mr. Verne certainly did his research (and copious amounts of it) for this novel. He crams a lot into a little space (the book, not including notes, checks in at 288 pages), but the detail is impressive. He also provides 30-plus pages of notes at the end, to explain all the people, places, and objects he refers to throughout the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love a story that grabs me right from the beginning and doesn't let go until the end. I give it five out of five stars and would suggest it to anyone who likes a good adventure story.
Fictionista Workshop would like to thank Brianna for taking the time to write such a thoughtful review of this novel.(less)
With Shadow of the Sun, first-time author, Laura Kreitzer, illuminates us with the first b...moreShadow of the Sun by Laura Kreitzer
Reviewed by Beth Sabatino
With Shadow of the Sun, first-time author, Laura Kreitzer, illuminates us with the first book in her Timeless series. The story starts off as her heroine, Dr. Gabriella Moretti, receives three bodies from an archeological dig in Italy. Dr. Moretti is a supernatural specialist for the Zelko Corporation, and the bodies have been sent to her for investigation. She walks into her lab and looks into the crates to find the supposed two-thousand-year-old bodies to have no decomposition whatsoever. She immediately contacts the dig to make sure she was sent the correct bodies, for these seem minutes dead and not centuries. She is soon emailed pictures of the bodies that were taken just four days prior, and images of three leathery, decayed corpses appear on her screen. Eager to find some answers, Dr. Moretti takes a tissue sample from the arm of one of the bodies, and in the time it takes her to turn around, the flesh has regenerated. For the first time in her tenure with Zelko, her skepticism is rocked to its foundation.
Dr. Moretti sells her lab and rushes to contact her supervisor, both anxious and eager to return to her lab once he arrives to see what they will find there. While waiting in her office, her assistant delivers her dry cleaning and a mysterious box. Wanting to make herself presentable after practically living at her lab as of late, Gabriella puts all thoughts of the box aside. While in the ensuite bathro om of her office, she begins to hear noises in her office. Peeking out into the room, she sees nothing, until she realizes that the box appears to be punched open. Soon a dark creature overcomes her, a Shadow, and warns her not to wake the mysterious bodies below: angels.
Soon her boss arrives, along with the FBI who wants to take this whole operation under their jurisdiction. Due to her expertise, and Gabriella’s sudden feeling of protectiveness over the angels, she is included in the detail to move the bodies to a government facility. Hidden in the ranks of the FBI agents are a Shadow, Jeff, and an angel, Karen. Gabriella finds herself back in her office with Karen, who reveals herself. She tells Gabriella that she is her guardian angel, sent to keep her and the bodies safe. More importantly, Kreitzer uses Karen’s explanation to convey that angels are immortals who protect humanity, and their depiction in religious texts was written by her self-righteous angel brothers. With this, Kreitzer has given herself creative liberty for her world of angels to not follow the archetype that angels are the messengers of God, and in turn frees the reader to accept Kreitzer’s world as she unfolds it to us.
Karen accompanies Gabriella as she goes home to pack for the trip, and in the process is presented with the angel elders. Gabriella then is told she is the “Darkness Illuminator”. A prophesy was made stating that the Darkness Illuminator would come and be the key to end the war between the angels and the Shadows. Because Gabriella survived her visit from the Shadow, which no human and few angels have survived, they believe she is the one who will save them and bring them peace.
Gabriella finds herself on the run, not knowing who to trust as she discovers more of the lore of this hidden world of guardian immortals. Not only does their history unfold, but her own hidden past is revealed to her as well. Gabriella hides, runs, and fights with the help of a human FBI agent, Joseph, and the three crated angels come-to-life; Andrew, Ehno, and Lucia. Other angels and shadows cross their paths, but as Gabriella learns, people are not always who they seem to be. Kreitzer’s mix of narrative, flashbacks, borrowed memories, and even stored messages in inanimate objects presents the unfolding of this world, and Gabriella’s past and future, in digestible pieces. As complex as this world is, you are able to keep track of who everyone is, and the various layers of lies that mask and complicate the situation Gabriella finds herself in. You can feel her emotion coming off the page, her anxiety in your nerves, and her weariness in your bones.
Along with the larger picture of ending a supernatural war is the slow unfolding of a love story between Gabriella and Andrew. Beginning with him coming to life in time to save her from a plane crash, they find themselves on the run together. They reveal each other’s worlds to each other, and gradually, pieces of themselves. They have an actually physical connection that they ignore at first, but soon there is an emotional connection as well.
Laura Kreitzer has created a world rich with history and intrigue. Just when you think you have it figured out, she throws you for another loop and you are no longer operating in the same reality you thought existed for the story. This is an intriguing start to what promises to be a captivating book series.
Beth Sabatino is a part-time computer programmer and avid reader. She is an active blogger about what she reads and is always looking to turn people on to something new. She is also a veteran characterization participant for the Fictionista Workshop. To follow Laura Kreitzer’s work, visit her website. (less)