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In two previous books, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, we observed the youthful adventures of an adorable young woman from Canada’s Prince Edward Island. We relished every moment as Anne Shirley matured from a bright-eyed orphan of eleven to the cusp of adulthood. Now, with two years of teaching experience under her belt, Anne seizes the opportunity to go to college, away on the mainland in Nova Scotia. There she is swept up in a whirlwind of studies, domestic delights with her girlfriends, and romantic misadventures.
Swain after swain proposes marriage to this girl, who little understands the effect her vivacious beauty has on men. How many proposals does she turn down? Count them if you please! But will Anne say “yes” and “no” to the right ones? Will she learn to know her own heart before it is too late? That question is the burden of this book.
Gilbert Blythe is there, of course. But their friendship is strained by an unwelcome new feeling that Anne senses coming into it. Then there’s a lovely chap named Roy Gardner, who seems to fit all her preconceived notions of Prince Charming; but is she right for him? While Anne wrestles with this dilemma, her path is criss-crossed by the sparks from other couples’ chemistry. Her flighty, indecisive friend Philippa, after stringing two suitors along for years, suddenly finds Mr. Right in a most unexpected quarter. Then, almost disastrously, Anne plays matchmaker to a pair who have been courting for twenty years without an outright proposal of marriage.
Meanwhile, she continues to keep up with affairs back home on P.E.I. Davy Keith continues to show a flair for mischief as he grows up. Anne stands by as one of her schoolgirl friends gets married, and as another dies of rapid consumption. Issues of birth and death, love and loss, the joys of embarrassments of becoming a published author, a bittersweet visit to the place of her birth, happy housekeeping and the agonies and perplexities of love, fill every nook and cranny of Anne’s active young life.
I started reading this series reluctantly, because a dear friend urged me to look at Anne of Green Gables. I was immediately captivated by the beauty, wit, and transparency of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing, and by her most exquisite creation, the character of Anne. Since then I was only prevented from blazing straight through the entire seven-book series by my difficulties in obtaining a copy of the fourth book, Anne of Windy Poplars. As soon as I can fill that gap, you can be assured that a review of the last four books will quickly follow. I wonder how it can be possible for those four to give as much pleasure as the first three. But then again, I have been continually surprised by how immensely readable, enjoyable, and all-fired unforgettable were each of these first three books.