Toronto: Penguin, 1981, c1908.
Where does the time go? It seems like just last weekend that I was partipating in the Readathon, but it was nearly a month ago! But I do want to talk about my experience of rereading a very familiar childhood classic -- and eventually review all the other books I read that weekend as well.
But first things first -- on rereading tales of Anne-with-an-E. This is a book I first read when I was around ten or eleven. I still have my first copy, complete with my own spine label and card pocket I created from regular paper, writing them with pink pen for some unknown reason, and attaching with scotch tape. Now that I am a proper librarian I know never to use scotch tape on a book - it has dried up and fallen off, leaving behind discoloured strips. But I still have the pocket and card tucked in the back.
It was a funny experience rereading this book this time around. I last read it a few years ago, and this time as I began I had the odd feeling that I knew the lines so well, it was almost as if I'd written them. Not just the story, but the actual phrases and sentences are laid down in my brain so deeply!
I enjoyed following the structure of the book as Anne arrives in Avonlea: first Rachel Lynde, then Matthew Cuthbert, then Marilla Cuthbert "Are Surprised", in the first three chapters. As Anne settles in, her experiences change her and change Marilla. I think one of the things I love best reading this as an adult is the way Marilla opens up and grows through her life with Anne. Her steady, moral influence is a strong factor in Anne's development, but at the same time Marilla is not ashamed to admit when she is wrong or to respect others who do the right thing. And she has a dormant sense of humour that Anne revives.
I was also reminded how very episodic this book is. Each chapter, after the first few, takes on a separate moment in Anne's childhood, taking her right up to graduation from school. It flies by, and yet feels so rich and full that we as readers always feel like we were a part of Anne's long and dreamy childhood. To me, that shows that LM Montgomery never really intended an eight book series, otherwise she would have left more room for further tales of childhood. As she said in her own diaries, the public was clamouring for more Anne, and she became 'heartily sick of Anne'. Still, this book is a gem and holds up to multiple rereads. I do love Avonlea, and Anne, and especially Marilla.
If you haven't read it yet, do start your career of rereading it now!