Montgomery, L.M. 1915. Anne of the Island.
"Harvest is ended and summer is gone," quoted Anne Shirley, gazing across the shorn fields dreamily.
I don't know if there are enough words to describe how I feel about Anne of the Island. It is one of the most magically, wonderful, giddy-making, purely-delightful, satisfying books I've ever read...and reread...and reread. Reading this book makes all the world seem right. (At least during the reading process.) It picks up shortly after where Anne of Avonlea leaves off. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe are preparing to go off to Redmond college. (Along with Charlie Sloane and Priscilla Grant who you may or may not remember.) Diana Barry is engaged to Fred Wright. And there is a hint of love in the air.
This is the story of Anne's college years; it spans four years. The books focus on her friendships with Priscilla Grant, Philippa Gordon, and Stella Maynard, her roommates. And of course the book focuses on her romantic-and-not-so-romantic dealings with men. Many men propose to Anne during the course of the book including Billy Andrews--who sends his sister in his place--and Sam Toliver with his bumbling, "Will yeh heve me?" (Charlie Sloane, Gilbert Blythe, and Royal Gardner are others.)
There are many side stories in Anne of The Island. And while these little asides and tangents are not employed much in modern fiction, within the works of L.M. Montgomery, they are so thoroughly charming that they just work well. Really really well.
I loved this one. Loved the romance. Loved the characters. Loved everything.
Here's my favorite bit of the book:
There is a book of Revelation in every one's life, as there is in the Bible. Anne read hers that bitter night, as she kept her agonized vigil through the hours of storm and darkness. She loved Gilbert—had always loved him! She knew that now. She knew that she could no more cast him out of her life without agony than she could have cut off her right hand and cast it from her. And the knowledge had come too late—too late even for the bitter solace of being with him at the last. If she had not been so blind—so foolish—she would have had the right to go to him now. But he would never know that she loved him—he would go away from this life thinking that she did not care. Oh, the black years of emptiness stretching before her! She could not live through them—she could not! She cowered down by her window and wished, for the first time in her gay young life, that she could die, too. If Gilbert went away from her, without one word or sign or message, she could not live. Nothing was of any value without him. She belonged to him and he to her. In her hour of supreme agony she had no doubt of that. He did not love Christine Stuart—never had loved Christine Stuart. Oh, what a fool she had been not to realize what the bond was that had held her to Gilbert—to think that the flattered fancy she had felt for Roy Gardner had been love. And now she must pay for her folly as for a crime. (237)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Dallas Book Festival
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