I was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, as you may have read in our 'About us' page on the blog. If you've ever been there you will know that it is a beautiful place surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. We have fantastic beaches, pretty countryside and super friendly people. If you've not yet visited you really should. Growing up on PEI was a blessing and a drawback. We are from a very small town where everyone knows everyone much like Avonlea. Though we lived a short drive to the beach, and our neighbors were always willing to help; the lack of excitement and entertainment made the island, at times, feel like a prison.
I only read Anne of Green Gables for the first time the summer I graduated high school. That summer I had a summer job working at a local touristy restaurant, and the owner said that I could read the books that were for sale if I was bored. Even though it took me so long to read the book I knew the story really well from childhood since Anne Shirley and I go way back. The story was sort of engrained in me as a child, and when I was in the fourth grade we put on a version of the play. We got to sing and dance and had a blast. The first time that I saw the actual musical production in Charlottetown was with my now deceased grandmother. She and I went to town and had a whole day together. She brought me to the play and I remember being so completely enraptured by the story that I didn't want it to end. My grandmother was an amazing lady who was taken from us way too soon, but I will always remember that special day I had her all to myself. She was a small town teacher, a lover of books and so well written/spoken just like the main character that I'm glad to have inherited her genes. I still have the crocheted doll of Anne which she bought me and has been with me wherever I have moved in my life.
The story starts by Introducing Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. They are a brother and sister who live together at Green Gables in the town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Neither has married, and so they decide to adopt a male orphan to help learn the ways of the farm and help Matthew with the chores. Matthew leaves for the train station to pick up the boy, but when he gets there he is shocked to find a girl was accidentally sent instead. This outspoken freckled-faced eleven year old talks his ear off the whole way home, but he is instantly enamored by her. Marilla eventually allows her to stay and the book tells her childhood stories of getting into trouble and having a great time doing so.
One of the first pages of my copy has a page that shows a map of the Atlantic Canadian provinces with PEI highlighted and it has 'It really does exist' written underneath. It's interesting how many people will come to the island because of these books. In the summer tourists from as far as Japan (where Anne is really famous) come to see the Green Gables house that was built in Cavendish. When I reread the book I realized that Lucy Maud Montgomery paints a perfect picture of the island. Anne's island although written in 1908 is the PEI that I know; people are just as nosy as ever and it doesn't take long for gossip to make its way around.. The characters seem like they could be real people living on PEI today (many of the surnames are common), the way they speak, and the things she describes was so accurate.
I really do adore this character she has a wonderful imagination and the romantic names that she comes up with for everything are amazingly descriptive. She is verbose, passionate and just plain fun. It's easy to see why people are still reading these books 100 years later. And why girls are still falling in love with Anne Shirley. These books will always have a special place in my heart. I used to hate being stuck on that island but I've accepted that PEI was a great place to grow up and reading this book brought it all back, and made me kind of homesick for PEI. Luckily I will be visiting in September. I might even be able to take in another performance of the play.
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