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The Green Gables Collection    by L. M. Montgomery order for
Green Gables Collection
by L. M. Montgomery
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Montgomery's beloved character Anne is presented in this 100th anniversary collection that traces her growth from a waif arriving on Prince Edward Island to a determined young woman facing the future.

Anne of Green Gables, my personal favourite and perhaps best of the series, introduces the love-starved orphan, who at eleven years old, has already suffered a lifetime of being bounced from one temporary situation to another. That she is a little girl, rather than the little boy intended to help with the farming, is understandably disconcerting to lifelong bachelor Matthew Cuthbert. However, shy and inarticulate Matthew finds this girl-child not intimidating but quite charming. Since he cannot abandon her at the train station, he takes her back to Green Gables, uneasily aware that his outspoken sister Marilla will not be pleased.

Nor is she. Marilla is determined that Anne be returned to the orphanage. However, her acerbic exterior hides a warm heart. In the end, Anne stays; and the delightful adventures and misadventures of this lively sprite are detailed in the first volume. We are also introduced to the memorable, quirky characters who are neighbours and friends, chief amongst whom are Diana Barry, Anne's first and dearest friend; Gilbert Blythe, schoolmate, rival, and finally friend; and Mrs. Rachel Lynde, warm-hearted busybody. By the end of the first book, Anne is a young woman of sixteen, ready to face an uncertain future.

In Anne of Avonlea, Anne embraces her duties as teacher at Avonlea school. She has placed on hold her dream of attending university, much to Marilla's dismay. However, as Anne points out serenely, there is no sacrifice in preserving Green Gables and helping the people she loves.

More mature and experienced at 'half-past sixteen', she is still Anne. Her warm heart continues to involve her in the lives of people she meets; and as Marilla has remarked with resignation, she manages to get herself into odder scrapes than anyone could imagine. However, Anne also makes people's lives better. Although sincerely happy for her friends, she is nonetheless dismayed at how things are changing. Even her dearest Diana has found a serious beau.

Anne attains her ambition of attending university in Anne of the Island, meeting a host of new friends and ably representing Avonlea, as do other old friends who also find themselves at Redmond. (Redmond is in Nova Scotia.) Once again, she balances hard work and socializing; and once again she is caught up in sorting out people's lives. It is only her own heart that is still very uncertain, much to the dismay of those who love her.

First published in 1908, 1909, and 1915, these tales bring to vivid life a simpler and perhaps often a better time. Montgomery's descriptions have the flow of poetry, and Anne's wide-eyed delight in the world that surrounds her is a marked contrast to the jadedness that we often encounter today. It is Anne herself, imaginative, warm-hearted, generous, and the people in her life who make Montgomery's stories so enduring and so well-loved.

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