20/04/2006

Anne of Avonlea (by L M Montgomery)

I love LM Montgomery's 'Anne' books. The classic 'Anne of Green Gables' is of course the best-known, but there are seven direct sequels, of which this one is the first.

'Anne of Avonlea' begins when Anne is sixteen and about to begin teaching at the village school. It seems incredible that a girl of that age could take on such a task - and successfully, too - but at the time, early in the 20th century in Canada, it was apparently the norm.

It's the characterisation that makes these novels so enjoyable. Anne is a wonderful creation: imaginative, independent, idealistic, and very loving. She determines to inspire the children in her school and also finds herself helping to bring up some young twins, a very well-behaved girl and a mischievous, inquisitive boy.

She also looks after Marilla, her foster-mother from the previous book, who is having trouble with her eyes, and is the motivating force behind the 'Avonlea Village Improvement Society'. Oh, and she makes friends with a cranky neighbour.

I suppose it's basically sentimental without much plot, and wouldn't appeal to anyone into fast action and excitement. But I loved re-reading this book. There were one or two places where I almost laughed aloud, and several where I had tears in my eyes.

Essentially this is teenage fiction, of course, but most teenage girls these days wouldn't bother with something so old-fashioned. Nevertheless, for anyone wanting some gentle light reading espousing traditional morals and a slower-paced lifestyle, this is highly recommended.

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