115 Years of Anne
A wonderful local bookstore, the Dartmouth Book Exchange, hosted a tea this week in honour of the 115th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables—complete with raspberry cordial (herbal tea) in fine bone China cups. I think Anne and Diana would have approved. Unfortunately, I was out of town and didn’t get to attend, but I did live vicariously through the event photos online. It got me thinking of the impact of Anne, and Montgomery’s legacy.
Unlike many, I didn’t grow up reading the series. I don’t think I even heard of them until Junior High, when I deemed them too juvenile to read. In a way, I’m sad I didn’t have Anne as a kindred spirit and source of comfort through childhood and adolescence. But sometimes, things work out as they do for a reason. Green Gables found me when I needed it most—in my early thirties.
When I moved to Nova Scotia, I was having a hard time. I was broke, living in my brother’s basement, and feeling like a failure for not being able to sustain a career in Newfoundland. I had trouble meeting friends and spent many a night binging Netflix and feeling sorry for myself. And of course, reading. A lot.
Usually, my TBR pile veers towards the depressing and post-apocalyptic. I didn’t have the heart or energy for that at the time. I needed something light, but still with substance. Enter Anne Shirley. She was optimistic and focused on the beauty of life even amidst pain and tragedy. And she was also a stranger in a strange land. We had a winner.
While I read about Anne falling in love with PEI, I fell in love with Nova Scotia, discovering the hikes, beaches, and bars. While she built her life there, I built mine here, buying my house, meeting my partner, and building a solid friend group. This all happened within a few months—the same amount of time it took me to devour all eight books in the series.
In my first couple of years here, I made two pilgrimages to PEI to tour the recreated Green Gables House and Town of Avonlea. Once with my (patient) boyfriend, now husband. Then, with one of my kindred spirits, and Anne superfan, Anthea. We had our photo taken holding hands and laughing, superimposed over Anne and Diana, and leaning in the doorway of that storied home. It was, to use some Anne-isms, splendidly and dazzlingly delightful.
I haven’t needed Anne as much in these last few years, but I know she’s always there if I do. And I recently made a delightful discovery: new books in the Anne universe to enjoy! Anne Before Green Gables was released 15 years ago, commissioned for the 100th anniversary, and approved by the Montgomery family. To make it even more serendipitous, it was written by Budge Wilson, a renowned Nova Scotian author, I’ve recently been reading. I just finished that book this past weekend and enjoyed it thoroughly. Next on my list is Marrilla before Anne, written by Louise Michalos.
So thanks to L.M. and Anne for doing exactly what literature should: providing solace, escape, and enjoyment when we need it most. Happy Anniversary!
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