Alright, bad news for Mr. Barca - I'm rereading the Anne of Green Gables series, this year, possibly the antithesis of the 'guy book' ideal that he has expressed an affectino for in the past. This is only the beginning - there are eight Anne books. But, Mr. Barca, you see I've tried so very hard to spare your feelings, so I've rolled up these first three books into one review, so there won't be QUITE so much challenge to your manhood. I will try to make this as painless as possible.
Anne of Green Gables will forever remind me of three people: my mother, because she's Canadian (thoguh she told jokes about P.E.I. folks - they're like the Canada equivalent of redneck jokes, apparently), my sister because she had the row of them on her shelf when I was little, and they looked so pretty there all in a row (right by the Laura Ingalls Wilder books), and my best friend from high school, Sarah Kortemeier, because she's the only person I ever saw wear red hair in pigtails (it was dyed for playing Annie at the time, she was more a ruddy brown, generally) and freckles (not fake, she had a healthy sprinkling of freckles). Anne of Green Gables is just like that last sentence, a series of charming, lovely, gently funny things (though much better written, older, and less given to parentheses).
In the grand scheme of things, these books shouldn't matter after 100 years. I don't mean to say they are bad books, but they aren't meant to be high literature. These books were written at the same time period, generally, as F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Joseph Conrad, after all. They were meant to be fun books, light books. And they are, they most certainly are, all of them, great fun.
But, the thing about Anne of Green Gables is that people DO still remember it. Plenty of books have been written, since, about what it is to grow up, but these ones stay large in the popular mind, despite all of the anachronisms they now carry, despite their imperfections.
The reason for me is the enormous respect that Ms Montgomery has for any soul that proves to be a kindred spirit. Ms Montgomery writes with passionate adoration, and quiet, sincere respect about old maids, young children, teenagers, college students, young newlyweds, middle-aged housewives, rich, poor, flighty and temperamental people, overly practical people, wild-eyed dreamers, quiet hard workers - to her, all these people are equal, and each one of them has their own brand of loveliness. Anne is a wonderful girl because she has the remarkable ability to love people as equals. Diana loves people because she thinks them better than her, Rachel loves people because she thinks they need her, Anne loves people as fellow travellers in her life, with warmth and sincere appreciation for their talents and abilities- and one gets the feeling that the narrator feels the same way.
These are the early books, the ones I know best, going from the orphan Anne being adopted by the Cuthberts, through school, teacher's college, and university, through her accepting an engagement with Gilbert. IT will be interesting to reread the books as she gets older and her cup becomes a little more mixed. The latter half of Ms. Montgomery's life was sad, I know (her husband was mentally ill, and she was frequently depressed and may have, in fact, committed suicide), and it will be interesting to reread the older books, now that I'm older, and know a little (just a little) more abotu what it is to have children, grow up, etc.