by L.M. Montgomery
We get to know Anne as the principal of Summertime High School, living on Spook's Lane in Windy Poplars. As Anne writes to Gilbert,
Isn't that an address? Did you ever hear anything
so delicious? Windy Poplars is the name of my new
home and I love it. I also love Spook's Lane, which
has no legal existence. It should be Trent Street
but it is never called Trent Street... It's dusk
dearest. (In passing, isn't 'dusk' a lovely word? I
like it better than twilight. It sounds so velvety
and shadowy and...and...dusky.) In daylight I
belong to the world...in the night to sleep and
eternity. But in the dusk I'm free from both and
belong only to myself...and you. (3)
I wended my way to the graveyard this evening, Anne wrote to Gilbert... I
think 'wend your way' is a lovely phrase and I try to work it in whenever I
I'm so glad to see that Anne has yet to lose her fascination with words, nor her imaginative beliefs! Anne is Anne is Anne...and I'm always thrilled with that knowledge as I read each of these books. She becomes so familiar and well-known at the start and never loses that appeal...at least to me! (And, in case you're wondering, like Anne, I also try to use certain favorite words or phrases whenever possible!)
The first person she and Mrs. Lynde meet in town is Mrs. Braddock who immediately warns her of the "Royal family":
...a third cousin of theirs applied for the Principalship and they all think he
should have got it. When your application was accepted the whole kit and
kaboodle of them threw back their heads and howled. Well, people are like
that. We have to take them as we find them, you know. They'll be as smooth
as cream to you but they'll work against you every time. I'm not wanting to
discourage you, but forewarned is forearmed. I hope you'll make good just
to spite them. (6)
Ah, that good ol' two-faced business--nice to your face, nasty behind your back! I was once told by a minister's wife that she had learned, the first church members who fall all over themselves to ingratiate you and praise you upon your arrival in a new church, are typically the first to stab you in the back, much as the Pringles are known to be. So very sad, "that's what," as Mrs. Lynde would say! But I loved Mrs. Braddock for telling Anne in a most factual and positive way without lowering herself to the Pringles' level of snide hypocrisy!
Anne lucks out by beating the new banker in town to the "tower room" at Windy Poplars and lives with the two widows and Rebecca Dew, of whom she writes to Gilbert,
You can't separate those names, Gilbert. It's impossible...though the
widows do it. They call her Rebecca when they speak to her. I don't know
how they manage it. (10)
And the way Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty (everyone calls them 'aunt'!) use reverse psychology with Rebecca Dew is hysterical! First to get her to agree to take Anne as a boarder and then to keep Dusty Miller living with them! So funny!
No matter how often and long I'm away from [Green Gables], the minute a
vacation comes I'm part of it again as if I have never been away, and my
heart is torn over leaving it. But I know I'll like it here. And it likes me. I
always know whether a house likes me or not. (12)
Fanciful Anne! Knowing whether a house likes her or not! :) We learn much about Anne's life during these three years through the letters she writes to Gilbert, as well as narrative. I typically love epistolary novels (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows always comes to mind as a beautiful example.) I so enjoyed imagining Gilbert's reactions as he read Anne's long letters!
Regarding her trials and tribulations with the Pringles:
School has been 'keeping' for two weeks now and I've got things pretty well
organized. But Mrs. Braddock was right...the Pringles are my problem. And
as yet I don't see exactly how I'm going to solve it in spite of my lucky
clovers. ...they are as smooth as cream, and as slippery.
My room is full of Pringles and a good many students who bear another
name have Pringle blood in them. The ring-leader of them seems to be Jen
Pringle, a green-eyed bantling who looks as Becky Sharp must have looked
at fourteen. I believe she is deliberately organizing a subtle campaign of
insubordination and disrespect, with which I am going to find it hard to cope.
(17) [Confession: I had to google Becky Sharp, having never read Vanity
But just as Anne believes she has lost this 'war,' as so often happens with her, she lucks out and gains some valuable historical information pertinent to the Pringles that salvages her relationship with them, being accepted by all of them, making her secure in her three-year contract as principal and much happier since she admits that she still can't stand not to be 'liked' by everyone, just as she felt as a child. Interestingly, as I read this I thought of a person who told me their goal in life was to "make everyone love me." This made me uneasy, because it is so unrealistic, not everyone will love any one person, so while you can hopefully establish respectful relationships with most people you encounter, it is impossible to make each person love or even like you. But I assume that Anne was referring to the ability to establish effective and respectful relationships, at least I am making that my interpretation of her desire. :)
One of the main themes of all the Green Gables books I've read thus far is the idea of Anne simply trying to be the best person she can be, even when meddling into other peoples' lives and affairs, and these actions turning out to save her in many ways. For example, her private nurturing of Sophy Sinclair's desire and talent to act, thereby thwarting Jen Pringle, the lead actress in the High School play , when she claimed to be sick the day of the performance, hoping to destroy any hope of Anne's success as the faculty sponsor of the event. This allowed Sophy to stand in and experience success which lead her to become a very successful actress as an adult, and saving Anne from defeat! Anne's persistence to get to know and like Katherine which led the woman to change careers and find happiness she had never hoped to discover within herself.
Perhaps the two most poignant stories of all in this book: Little Elizabeth's hope that her father would rescue her from life with her Grandmother and The Woman, and that bit of magic as Lewis and Anne deliver Little Fellow's picture to his father, altering his life perspective for the better! And finally, perhaps the funniest and most realistic to me, her part in the Hazel and Terry marriage debacle, or so it seemed... Anne's life continues to contain one adventure after another, as she puts herself 'out there' in society and tries to 'do good' for others as much as she is able...
I believe this may well be my second favorite book of this series so far, after the first book, Anne of Green Gables. How about your favorite(s) within this series? And if you haven't read them, you really should. In my opinion this is classic/children's literature at it's best!