<<TBR CHALLENGE 2017: JULY>>
Note: Jane at Greenish Bookshelf and Jackie at Death By Tsundoku are co-hosting the Anne of Green Gables series readalong – totes check out their blogs if you want to cave to peer pressure and join in the fun 😉
Life has a way of catching up and speeding past, leaving me all bothered and discombobulated and wondering if I have missed something vaguely important…like changing my underwear or remembering to turn off the stove…
This month in particular has gone off like a frog in a sock (that’s totally a thing btw) and the end result of utter mayhem has been that I have read ONE whole book.
Seriously. ONE. I think the last time I read only an entire book in complete singleness in a month was when I was 14 and I had exams and my parents banned me from reading any more Sweet Valley Highs until I had finished studying…
It is a phenomenon, and not one I wish to see repeated.
Reading is such a cathartic process; you have to leave your present; involve yourself in the minutiae of other people’s lives; see different points of views; experience other realities…In this sense, reading has always struck me as this stepping out of one’s own self focus, to experience the world at someone else’s fingertips. How can you be self absorbed when you are absorbed by someone else life?
Reading: the cure for narcissism.
Fortune did smile on my reading choice however minimal it was, and combining that with my current read, I have managed to cover three seperate topics: #AnneReadAlong2017 for Anne of Avonlea, AND Anne of the Island – PLUS they are a SERIES and I am behind in them, thus having to catch up, which makes them fall smack bang in the middle of Wendy-the-most-awesome-Librarian’s TBR Challenge: Series Catch Up.
(*silent and slightly smug jazz hands*)
It is easy to combine the two books together, as they take place over the same stretch of time, with one event leading into another.
AOA, starts with Anne at sixteen; no longer the chatter-boxy child of the previous book, in this she is all willowy graces with eyes shining like ‘evening stars.’
She has a solid group of friends and family gathered about her, and in this book they widen to incorporate Mr Harrison (from next door, with his parrot who swears like a sailor) and Davy & Dora, twins that Marilla takes into care.
There are the same adventure-type things that happen, but I did notice, as Anne became more school teacher-y, they stopped happening BECAUSE of Anne specifically, but more AROUND her, with the ramifications affecting her more than her being the cause of it…
The events are vignette-like in their telling; lots of little stories with a slight arc of story-progression.
THINGS happen, but nothing big or momentous…more slices of village life with teeny capers and hiccups thrown in.
Davy & Dora seem to have almost endless scenes, and whilst I do remember being bored of the Davy-bad-but-loved-the-most Vs Dora-obedient-piece-of-white-toast; this re-read I found it more interesting…
Davy seems like almost an Anne (of the Green Gables ilk) substitute: a chatterbox, prone to scrapes and mishaps; loved despite his ‘badness’ and affectionate in the extreme.
Oh, I saw you! You needn’t try to look innocent. What does make you behave so this morning?”
“Maybe I got out of the wrong side of the bed,” suggested Davy. “Milty Boulter says if you do that things are bound to go wrong with you all day. His grandmother told him. But which is the right side? And what are you to do when your bed’s against the wall? I want to know.”
Dora on the other hand, serves as a foil to his rambunctiousness. She is placid and obedient, and sadly not loved anywhere near as much as Davy – and I used to get annoyed with this dichotomy; but now I am wondering if it isn’t deserved. Dora shows little affection or love; she initiates nothing, has no adventures. True, she isn’t really given any stage time, except when Davy is tormenting her is some way, but her traits are similar to that of Jane Andrews.
Nobody else seemed to have much appetite, save Dora, who tucked away her rations comfortably. Dora, like the immortal and most prudent Charlotte, who “went on cutting bread and butter” when her frenzied lover’s body had been carried past on a shutter, was one of those fortunate creatures who are seldom disturbed by anything. Even at eight it took a great deal to ruffle Dora’s placidity. She was sorry Anne was going away, of course, but was that any reason why she should fail to appreciate a poached egg on toast? Not at all. And, seeing that Davy could not eat his, Dora ate it for him.
In complete contrast, Paul (Anne’s favourite student) is also GOOD, but he has imagination, pretend friends and large-scope flights of fancy…so maybe, Montgomery isn’t so much perpetrating an idea that bad children are more loveable, and good is boring – but more that a lack of imagination is a crushing character flaw…
Anne of the Island, sees Anne leaving Avonlea to go to Redmond College
And this one is VERY much more Anne-centered. And to be completely honest, this is my favourite of all the Anne books. At least, this is the one I remembered reading the most, so I do recall most of it.
And, not just for the fact that it gave me the MOST deceptively inaccurate perception of College and University that was rudely dismantled at a speedy rate once I reached that point in life.
What? College life isn’t boarding houses and cute cottages shared with friends and handsome boys falling madly in love with you whilst you share umbrellas with them?
WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS????
Anne of the Island is beautiful and sweet and far more in-depth; it has more lyrical prose, (only a crude non-believer in HEAs would call it purple) but it can border on the slightly mauve at times.
Davy & Dora still feature fairly heavily, but they are older now and seem to be coming a little more into their own; and frankly, Davy has some of the best lines in the book…
“Anne,” sobbed Davy, getting his arms about her neck. “I’m awful glad you’re home. I couldn’t go to sleep till I’d told somebody.”
“Told somebody what?”
“How mis’rubul I am.”
“Why are you miserable, dear?”
“‘Cause I was so bad today, Anne. Oh, I was awful bad — badder’n I’ve ever been yet.”
“What did you do?”
“Oh, I’m afraid to tell you. You’ll never like me again, Anne. I couldn’t say my prayers tonight. I couldn’t tell God what I’d done. I was ‘shamed to have Him know.”
“But He knew anyway, Davy.”
“That’s what Dora said. But I thought p’raps He mightn’t have noticed just at the time. Anyway, I’d rather tell you first.”
The additional cast of characters are all enjoyable and help round out plot. Aunt Jamesina, Stella, Priscilla and Phillippa are engaging and funny and have equal-ish moments in the spot light.
Below is an excerpt from a letter, to Anne from Phillippa – it is hands down, such an awesomely terrible/mundane event, told in such a clever way, I just dissolve into laughter, everytime I read it:
“Anne, did you ever get on a street car and then discover that you hadn’t any money with you to pay your fare? I did, the other day. It’s quite awful. I had a nickel with me when I got on the car. I thought it was in the left pocket of my coat. When I got settled down comfortably I felt for it. It wasn’t there. I had a cold chill. I felt in the other pocket. Not there. I had another chill. Then I felt in a little inside pocket. All in vain. I had two chills at once.
“I took off my gloves, laid them on the seat, and went over all my pockets again. It was not there. I stood up and shook myself, and then looked on the floor. The car was full of people, who were going home from the opera, and they all stared at me, but I was past caring for a little thing like that.
“But I could not find my fare. I concluded I must have put it in my mouth and swallowed it inadvertently.
“I didn’t know what to do. Would the conductor, I wondered, stop the car and put me off in ignominy and shame? Was it possible that I could convince him that I was merely the victim of my own absentmindedness, and not an unprincipled creature trying to obtain a ride upon false pretenses? …Just at the conventional moment, when all hope had fled, and the conductor was holding out his box to the passenger next to me, I suddenly remembered where I had put that wretched coin of the realm. I hadn’t swallowed it after all. I meekly fished it out of the index finger of my glove and poked it in the box. I smiled at everybody and felt that it was a beautiful world.”
The GILBERT & ANNE FACTOR is alive and well and alternately crushes your swoon and makes it all sweetness and unicorns….
With the added bonus of one of the BEST ENDINGS EVER!!!!
Re-reading Anne books is like running into an old friend you haven’t seen for years, or snuggling up in a warm, washed to soft sweater that is cosy and welcoming. It is light, but with poignant moments. It is clever and has a perceptive take on human nature. It is quotable; loveable and above all, it is uniquely Anne-ish. Yes, Anne will probably drive you a little mad, with her stubbornly held ideals around Prince Charming and what romance really is…but these are but small quibbles in the grand scope of the Avonlea world.
So, if you haven’t got on the Anne train yet, climb out from under that rock and get thee hence to the bookshop…
Valancy: on the look out for a dear little cottage called Patty’s Place… What? College dreams die hard!