Thursday, May 15, 2008
Before Green Gables
Wilson, Budge. 2008. Before Green Gables.
Before Green Gables--it almost goes without saying--is the prequel to Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Written a hundred years after the original, it seeks to explore Anne's past before her arrival at the train station where she meets the lovable Mr. Matthew Cuthbert. Her past is only hinted at in Anne of Green Gables. We're told a few things, but never given a clear, straight-forward history or documentation. At least not that I can remember. If memory serves, we're told that after her parents' death, she was taken in by two families where she worked, worked, worked, and finally by an orphanage where Mrs. Spencer ultimately picks her up.
I for one was never curious what happened before. So the thought of a prequel would have never occurred to me in a million years.
There aren't really many surprises along the way. Not as far as plots go. The thing that did surprise me in a way was Wilson's ability to draw characters that as unlikeable as they were there was still something sympathetic or redemptive about them. For example, Mr. Thomas, the drunk. I never would have thought that anyone could portray him in such a way that I could/would almost feel sorry for him. In a way that made me care about his story. Same thing goes with Mrs. Hammond. The woman with so many children all under the age of five or six. Wilson does have a remarkable way of creating human characters--the good, the bad, the ugly. The way she was able to flesh out such characters--characters that we only know so little of and almost always negatively from the original--is something.
In a way this story seeks to be the story of how Anne becomes Anne. It worked for me in some places, but not in others. The older Anne got, the more it worked for me.
So I liked this one. I don't know that it's really necessary. But it's enjoyable enough.
Washington Post's Review
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews