Sunday, June 05, 2011

Audiobook Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Book: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Narrator: Laurie Klein
Published: 1908
Source: Local Library

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert thought they were getting a sturdy, sensible little orphan boy who would help Matthew around the farm. What they got instead was Anne Shirley, a sensitive, imaginative, red-headed orphan girl who will bring breath and life into the stagnant Green Gables.

Like the Stones say, you can't always get what you want . . . but sometimes, you'll get what you need.

Time: 3:01:48 (partial)
Why I Wanted to Read It: I love audiobooks, but have a hard time listening to ones that are new to me, so I tend to pick books I've read before. It's been entirely too long since I spent time with Anne.

So this is a partial review, since I've only listened up to the first meeting with Diana Barry. I'd forgotten how long it takes for Anne to ease into Avonlea society. After all, we can't imagine one without the other. But then, the other thing I'd forgotten was how weird and wild Anne is to the staid and prosaic people of Avonlea, not least the Cuthberts. Full of imagination and romantical fantasy and plopped down in a practical and hard-working farming community, this is a fish out of water and no mistake. Maybe the reason Anne has to exist in Avonlea (and vice versa) is that they are so different they function as two sides of the same coin.

Reading this as an adult, I find myself horrified by Anne's life before Green Gables, and profoundly grateful for the mix-up that landed her there. As sensitive as she is, it couldn't have been too much longer before the lack of love and the constant exploitation would have destroyed her. Or maybe I'm being pessimistic and her sturdy imagination, which creates friends out of reflections and echoes, would have shielded her into adulthood. Luckily, we'll never know.

The other part of reading this as an adult is that Anne is hilarious. Like many a starry-eyed teenager, she takes things she's heard and barely understands, mixes them up, and spouts them forth. And yet, she's not being pretentious. She genuinely loves the romantic poets of her era (she seems to exist somewhere in the 1870's or 1880's) and is open to the joys of nature. Some of the stuff she comes out with could be seen as manipulative if written in a modern book, especially when she talks despairingly of what a trial she is, or how frightfully badly she should be punished. But we all know Anne is simply not like that.

The narrator, Laurie Klein, annoyed me a little bit at first, because she seemed to be a little over the top herself. But either I got used to her style or she settled into it. I'll go on reading this, definitely, and remembering why this girl still resonates with kids and adults over 100 years later.


Kristi said...

Ooh, I remember when I was a kid I had an audiobook of Anne of Green Gables read by Megan Follows (who plays Anne in the TV miniseries) and it was perfect.

Genevieve said...

Surprisingly, the "prequel," Before Green Gables, was pretty good. I had never heard of Budge Wilson before, didn't know she was a well-known Canadian kids' author, and I wasn't expecting much. But it gave a very detailed and true-feeling picture of Anne's life before she came to the Cuthberts.