Eighteen-year-old Anne is ready to leave her beloved Green Gables for university in nearby Nova Scotia. Awaiting her in bustling g Kingsport is Avonlea’s Priscilla Grant. And soon Anne has a new friend as well, Philippa Gordon. Together, the girls take up residence in a charming old cottage called Patty’s Place, where a stray named Rusty – the most forlorn specimen of the cat tribe they have every beheld – steals Anne’s heart.
But it’s not all fun and games. A tragedy back in Avonlea, shattering Anne’s carefree attitude to life, and an unwanted marriage proposal leaves her questioning her future. And then there’s handsome Gilbert Blythe. He has realized the depth of his feelings for her, but does she feel the same way? When a second tragedy is narrowly averted, Anne must decide if she’s finally ready for love.
Please note: this is the third in the Anne of Green Gables series to be discussed on this blog. If you missed parts 1 and 2, please click here to catch up.
Oh university Anne … still turning heads as much as you are rising to the top of your class in your studies. I hadn’t realized until I re-read this book just how social Anne’s life had become! Yes, this is the book that takes Anne away from Green Gables and the Island that she loves and sends her (finally) to university. As Anne settles into life in Kingsport (a blend of Halifax and Annapolis Royal), she encounters old friends while make making new ones. The Anne in this book is still dreamy and romantic, but with a far more serious bent to her now. She takes her studies seriously, and is saddened by the loss of one of her childhood chums. I’ll confess to being a little teary at the Ruby’s loss – even though I knew full well that it was coming.
We’re a little light on details from Green Gables this time around, although some of the letters hint at a change that is coming in the narrative style. While Davey’s curiosity is totally within character, his demands of “I want to know” are enough to make you want to respond with “Because I said so!” – Anne is far more patient than I, it seems! Diana is settling into married life, and the twins are growing. There are some rather disturbing sections regarding hanging a dog and trying to kill a cat with chloroform (why don’t those stay in my memory?), but that’s very much a product of the time.
This is also the book where Anne’s story turns into a romance. Her relationship with Roy Gardner is slow and charming and everything she wanted it to be … and totally not for her. I remember yelling at her the first time she turned down Gilbert Blythe, and I had the same feelings when I re-read the book; it is so clear that they are meant to be together. I do think that I admired Anne more this time than I likely did in the past; it couldn’t have been easy to turn down what would have been a comfortable marriage, knowing that her options were limited otherwise. Gilbert’s final proposal is lovely and honest and very Green Gables – down to earth yet magical in its own way. There is the potential for happily ever after in those few pages, and if Montgomery had not continued the story after this book, I probably would have been happy with this ending.
Anne of the Island is one of my favourites in the series; this is the book where Anne comes into her own, and her dreams turn into reality. She is still our Anne of Green Gables, but with a maturity and seriousness that demonstrates just how far our little orphan has come. This is the launching point for the next trilogy of books, where Anne starts her journey towards a grown-up relationship that will lead to marriage and children; she truly leaves childhood behind, and while I’m always excited to move onto the next book, there’s also a sense of melancholy that our young Anne is now much more.
Did you read Anne of the Island? Are you joining the readalong? Join Lindsey at Reeder Reads and the rest of us as we read (or re-read) the Anne series over the first eight months of the year.