I’ve been looking forward to this month’s Books that Made me Love Reading Challenge instalment (hosted by Emlyn Chand). I’ve written elsewhere and said in author interviews that Anne of Green Gables was my inspiration for wanting to be a writer. I think it’s probably more accurate to say that the book made me love words and what they could do to a reader. I identified so much with the character of Anne–I still do. I remembered why as I listened to some of the things she says, “When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can.” So can I, Anne with an “e.” I’ve been obsessed with words since I was young. I spell them constantly in my head. And when Anne says (and Marilla smirks), “This is the most tragical thing that has happened to me,” I recall with a twinge of embarrassment telling someone that I was “stophisticated.” Yup. True story. The daydreaming and misunderstood imagination were part of my life too. Fortunately, my parents were supportive. In my case, it was teachers who misunderstood. Despite her drama (of which I had my share as well), Anne maintains her optimism, and things work out well for her in the end. And I think–I hope–I’ve been that way too. I don’t know how many times I’ve read Anne. Quite a number. But reading it this time, to my children so they could enjoy it with me, I was struck by how many things Montgomery did “wrong”–at least according to publishing standards today:
- long monologues by a single speaker
- omniscient point of view that flips from one person’s head to another
- the overuse of other words besides “said” in speech attribution
And yet it was a classic. And still is. And I’m pretty sure my children didn’t notice any of those “problems.” And really, neither did I. Anne is as entrancing today as she was when I was a child. Here are some of my favorite Anne-isms:
- My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. That’s a sentence I read once and I say it over to comfort myself in these times that try the soul.
- This is the most tragical thing that has ever happened to me.
- Anne Shirley: Don’t you ever imagine things differently from what they are? Marilla Cuthbert: No. Anne Shirley: Oh Marilla, how much you miss.
- Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.