Previous in the series: Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Avonlea has everything I love about Anne of Green Gables: the gorgeous descriptions, the endearing character moments, the most perfect slow-burn love story of all time. While reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books, I feel like Charlotta the Fourth: constantly watching Anne in the hopes that I might take on a little of her character if only I try hard enough. Even though I’m 34 and Anne’s only 17 in this novel, she’ll always feel like an aspirational figure of impossible enchantment. Some might find that cloying, but I simply get swept up in Anne’s spell the same way her most ardent admirers do.
Fortunately, some of the other characters are a little more down to earth. Before this reread, I’d entirely forgotten about Mr Harrison, but I love how he morphs from tirading bachelor to almost a kindred spirit in a matter of moments. I’d forgotten about Marilla adopting the twins, too, and this time around I felt quite bad for Dora. She’s constantly described as being incredibly obedient and yet she is so overlooked that adults describe her as monotonous and forgettable. She’s a child! As an overlooked orphan herself, it really feels as though Anne could have taken more of an interest.
But what is the use of being an independent old maid if you can’t be silly when you want to, and when it doesn’t hurt anybody?Anne of Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Of course, Anne of Avonlea‘s true kindred spirits are Paul Irving and Miss Lavender Lewis — Echo Lodge with its fairy echoes is one of the most memorable settings on Prince Edward Island. I spent much of the book waiting with bated breath for Anne and Diana to finally stumble upon the little stone house. Miss Lavender inviting the girls to share the tea she prepared for pretend guests is up there among my favourite moments in the series.
As I said in my review of Anne of Green Gables, Gilbert Blythe continues to be literature’s most perfect romantic lead. His steadfast love for Anne, even before she is ready to realise it, never fails to make me feel emotional, and I know that Anne of the Island will have even more perfect moments of happiness for the pair of them.
“That’s a lovely idea, Diana,” said Anne enthusiastically. “Living so that you beautify your name. Even if it wasn’t beautiful to begin with… making it stand in people’s thoughts for something so lovely and pleasant that they never think of it by itself.”Anne of Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery
No book is perfect, so I draw attention once again to the fact that Anne’s female friends her own age are, barring Diana Barry, fairly forgettable. Jane and Priscilla are different from one another, but I literally can’t remember a single thing either of them did in the previous novel, and by the time I start the next I doubt I’ll remember what distinguishes them. Diana makes up for it all, though, because her friendship with Anne is so beautifully encapsulated on the eve of her engagement. It was another moment that made me all misty-eyed.
“Another chapter in my life is closed,” said Anne aloud, as she locked her desk. She really felt very sad over it; but the romance in the idea of that ‘closed chapter’ did comfort her a little.Anne of Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery
I love the whole Anne series so whole-heartedly that I literally hugged the book to my chest every evening after I finished reading. I can hardly wait to carry on inhabiting Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beautiful world.