Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Revisiting Anne, Part 3: Anne of the Island

Anne's world continues to expand with L.M. Montgomery's third in the series, Anne of the Island. After spending two years teaching in Avonlea, it's finally time for Anne to head to Kingsport to attend Redmond College. She's leaving her beloved Green Gables and her beloved best friend behind for a new adventure she's not so certain about.

But of course, it's Anne. She finds her niche, after a while, in a sweet and cozy little house with wonderful new friends and roommates. She excels in her "new life" away from the Island, while, of course, never letting it get too far out of sight or mind.

Anne, at heart, is a local girl, a homebody. She relishes in familiarity, surrounded by the people and places she holds dear; her nostalgia for these things only strengthen the bonds between Anne and the things she loves, finding comfort in the memories and associations she's created in Avonlea. Though this Anne is actually a great deal younger than me, I think this is the version of Anne I relate to most. Her level of contentment with things "as they are" is higher than most; and though she craves new adventures and new interactions, she has a tendency to fall back on the past if things get too new and unfamiliar.

This Anne seems to grow up quickly. It's her first real realization that one must grow up—the dreaming and scheming of childhood cannot last forever. But the lovely thing about Anne is that she disregards that standard. She sticks to her dreamy, romantic notions because she wants to. So while the story starts with an Anne who feels the pressure to "grow up," who you fear will lose her youthful optimism, four years pass at Redmond, and Anne grows just as we hoped she would—maintaining her childlike wonder and gaining a level of maturity simply by becoming self-aware, understanding what it means to grow up.

I enjoyed this one much more than Anne of Avonlea. I felt we really got to experience life with Anne, instead of viewing her life in brief snippets. As Anne starts to experience real things—like loss and friendship and figuring out if it's love or not—we get to see how she handles everything that comes at her. And it's exciting to follow this character as she encounters important points in her life and see how she responds...and if it fits with how you believe she is as a person. Anne is growing up, and though it's bittersweet, you're somehow confident she'll never really change.

My favorite thing about Anne has always been her ability to think about every situation, no matter how small. To look at it in the big picture, to truly appreciate it, to fully understand it, and to get as much out of it as she can. And then be able to present her thoughts in such a poignant, poetical way. Maybe it's just the author's voice, but I like to believe that's who Anne is.

"It has been a prosy day for us," she said thoughtfully, "but to some people it has been a wonderful day. Some one has been rapturously happy in it."  
She felt very old and mature and wise—which showed how young she was. She told herself that she longed greatly to go back to those dear merry days when life was seen through a rosy mist of hope and illusion, and possessed an indefinable something that had passed away forever. Where was it now—the glory and the dream? 
There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves—so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful. 
She wondered if old dreams could haunt rooms—if, when one left forever the room where she had joyed and suffered and laughed and wept, something of her, intangible and invisible, yet nonetheless real, did not remain behind like a voiceful memory.

And L.M. Montgomery is a true fan of the em-dash. And I am such a fan of that. Also...Gilbert!!

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