Rachel's Reviews > Before Green Gables

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
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's review
May 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read in April, 2011

For Christmas, I asked for the complete Anne of Green Gables movie trilogy and eagerly rewatched the first movie. After the holidays, when browsing the discounted books at the local bookstore, I came across this book. When I went to the library a few weeks ago, I discovered that the book was in stock, so I checked it out. My ultimate plan was to read this prequel and then continue on with the 7-book set that has sat on my bookshelf unopened for years.

Before Green Gables chronicles the life of Anne Shirley before she comes to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert in Green Gables. I had read Anne of Green Gables once in 8th grade, but I don't remember how the movies compare to that and the other books. So, I based my understanding of Anne's life prior to reading this book to the movie I had just recently rewatched. It was clear that Anne had had a rough childhood, and this book definitely highlighted this. In fact, it was actually quite depressing reading about her parents' deaths at 3 months, her moving from home to home with adult-like roles and responsibilities, and her unwavering desire to go to school. You can't help but feel badly for her. It will truly be fun to continue on with the series and see how she has evolved from this childhood.

In the Acknowledgments section at the end of the novel, Wilson describes how fans of Montgomery's series helped pinpoint parts in the novels that gave inklings to Anne's life before Green Gables that ultimately inspired this book. I look forward to discovering these references and comparing them to Wilson's prequel.

Since I haven't read the series yet, I am unsure of how faithful Wilson is to Montgomery's voice in her novels. I will be especially interested in seeing how true to that detail Wilson was.

The one disappointment I have in the book is that the characterization of Anne in the movies is not developed in this book. Again, since I haven't read the series yet, I am unsure if Megan Follows's portrayal is a deviation from Montgomery's character, or if this aspect of Anne's life was not fully developed by Wilson. Anne in Before Green Gables did have her love for school, reading, and large words, and she also enjoyed imagining and talking up a storm when she was passionate about a topic. However, she did not find herself in any situations where she said something unfortunately (and oftentimes comedically) offensive like she does in the movies. That trait seemed to be apparent immediately upon arriving in Green Gables in the movie, leading one to assume that this was a trait cultivated over the span of several years. If I assume that this trait continues into the books, why wasn't that developed more in this prequel? This characterization will be an interesting one to look for as I continue onward with the series.

All in all, my gut reaction is to believe that fans of the books will not be disappointed by this prequel.

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