Like many women of my generation, I read Anne of Green Gables when I was young, and I saw a couple of adaptations on television, but it wasn’t until last year that I discovered how many books there were in the series, and decided to embark on them all in order. It was a year in which I considered myself fortunate, because I spent many happy hours immersed in the events of Avonlea and Ingleside.
Anne of Green Gables, the first in the series, tells the story of the orphan Anne Shirley’s arrival at the farm of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. They were expecting a boy, and there are tense pages for Anne and the reader while the elderly brother and sister make up their mind as to whether she can stay. Once it’s decided, Anne’s natural ebullience is unquenchable, and she gets into a succession of scrapes to try the patience of her new guardians, while making friends and rivals in the community. Anne is instantly lovable, and the reader shares her despair about her red hair, and her yearning to be called Cordelia, so that when, at the end of the book, she has to curtail her dreams, we both suffer with her and admire her determination. I read this book in the edition edited by Cecily Devereux, which has an introduction and some interesting back matter, including contemporary reviews, which I found quite informative. I would have welcomed similar treatment for the whole series.