Monday, July 21, 2008

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

I must confess, I could never quite manage the series of the Anne books when I was a child. I would skip over the long passages where Anne would ramble on so. It shocked me that there was a character in literary history that could talk more than me. So I would skip to where there was action, and pictures. The copy that I had when I was 10(and still have) had color plates that helped move the story along. But when one entire page was one long monologue of Anne's dramatic speech about something describing the Haunted Wood, or the Lake of Shining Waters, I tended to skip it.

But that isn't to say that I didn't get the main point of the story, and that I didn't have a genuine love for the characters, because I did. So when PBS released the Kevin Sullivan production with Meagan Follows as Anne Shirley, I was in love with the books all over again, even though I knew the movie mixed them up, and cut them back drastically (Davie and Dora, where are you??). I even convinced my mom to take a family summer trip to P.E.I with her and my older brother (what a sport!) so I could see the Anne house, the red clay beaches, and all that my imagination had created while speed-reading the books and watching the movies. My trip did not disappoint. I loved it. And I hope future generations of Anne readers will get a chance to take this trip as well.

So now it is the 100 year anniversary and a writer has taken it upon herself to create Anne's world before Montgomery imagined it, using hints mentioned in the previous novels. This is no small feat, and Wilson has done a marvelous job. She has to please Anne fans and critics alike.

Remember, Anne's life before the Cuthbert's was not a happy one, she's an orphan, and Wilson does not shy away from the grim reality of being parentless during this time period. Despite baby Anne's horrid homelife, her exuberance shines through. She has an imagination that allows her to rise above the servitude she is forced to live and she survives within her own world. Wilson writes this without being too heavy handed, you cheer for Anne all the way through because you know how it is going to end.

Anne's journey to Green Gables is a wonderful read, not as amusing as the other books in the series because her transfers from horrible home to horrible home are so sad, but she meets many wonderful characters, mirroring the character journey in the other books. And these characters become her friends, and you know she has become important to them. This book is about her journey, her resilient spirit, and her search for a loving home.

Now if only it had color plates...

1 comment:

  1. I have got to get this book for my daughter! I have all the books (except this one,lol) and the whole series on DVD. Thank you for posting this!