The first time I saw Anne of Green Gables was at my Grandparents’ house, on a TV to VHS recording that I had to fast-forward through to avoid commercials every twenty minutes or so. I loved it. And when The Continuing Story came on TV I remember being so excited that there was another Anne film. I thought the adventure that Anne embarked on was thrilling and for the ten year old girl that I was, it was inspiring. In the years after I would watch crappy VHS recordings and borrow all three films from my local library constantly, revisiting Avonlea and Anne over and over again.
When I was 19, and just coming out of my third semester of College, I decided to reward myself for my hard work by yet again re-watching the first three Anne films. It had been years since I had last watched them and I was in need of some escapism. I came home from the Library, my DVDs in hand, and watched all three that night. The next day I was tired from staying up late and when my Mum asked why and I told her, she asked me if I had ever read the books. I thought for a moment and realized that I hadn’t. In school I had read a highly abridged version of Anne of Green Gables, but I had never read the actual books and for whatever reason I had never gone looking for them. My Mum told me that she still had her copies, somewhere in the ether of the under the stairs storage, and if I could find them, and wanted them, then they were mine. So, on the first day of my winter break I armed myself with a flash light and began going through the boxes and bags under the stairs. Eventually I found them: six of the eight Anne of Green Gables books re-published in the 1960s. Feeling triumphant I quickly cleaned up and then spent the afternoon reading. From the very first line “Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow…” I was hooked and I fell in love.
I never expected the books to be the same as the films, I had seen enough of the books I loved turned into movies at that point to know that it just wasn’t realistic, and I found that I was forming a new appreciation for how much I liked Anne as a character. She was smart, witty and unfailingly optimistic and that was definitely a constant in both the films and the books. That winter break I read all six of the books that had been my Mother’s and then I went out and found Windy Poplars and Rainbow Valley and read those too. In the years since I have re-read them all too many times to count. When I was in my last year of University and working on a research paper about representations of gender in literature, Anne was one of my go to sources; she was the perfect example of a female literary character who was strong and did not lack the courage of her convictions.
Discovering Anne of Green Gables is something that I will always be grateful for. The films and the books have made me laugh and cry and never fail to cheer me up; I know they’ll be my go to source of escapism for years to come.
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