It had been quite a long time since I read Anne of Green Gables, so I checked out the audio CD. I do a lot of driving these days, and it worked out nicely. I didn't have to try and cram reading time in when I was home, and it made use of the hours of driving I put in each week. It wasn't the first time I've reread Anne of Green Gables - I lost count how many times I returned to that book when I was small. But this was the first time I haven't enjoyed it. Rather, I found it a bit annoying, and discovered some issues with Anne that my younger self never noticed. What struck me most is Anne's manipulative ways. Multiple times she looks soulfully up at her elders who are flustered by her mischief and antics, and opines 'How would you feel if you were a little orphan girl, and had never ______?," and she always wins them over. She props up her history book and then has a novel on her lap, "but she never once thought of being deceitful in what she was doing!" She refuses to go to school on account of hurt pride, and is allowed to, and for years is steadfastly unforgiving to the repentant offender. And it's all done in the name of imagination.
Now, I'm not saying Anne is all bad - she is loves deeply and, for the most part, without reserve, and is loyal to the death to those she cares for. And of course, she is still a child, so I approve of the author giving her faults at all - there is nothing I like less than perfect child protagonists. But Anne's faults, while they are not really glorified, are not properly shown to be faults, either. Frequently an outburst from Anne is smoothed over by a dramatic apology from her, a "There now, that's all right" and a smile from the adult or adults involved, frequently joined with some justification of her wrongdoing - Rachel Lind deserved to be told off. It's true, the reverend's prayers were very dull. Gilbert had been quite rude. Perhaps the author did it to prevent from being overly moralistic, like Marilla's character so often is. But a good author can give their characters faults, know them and show them to be such, without being preachy and moralistic. Montgomery fails to do that.
So, I'm left wondering what the point of Anne really is. It's a story of a girl with too much imagination who eventually grows up into a young woman ready to set off for college. She has grown up quite a bit over the course of the book, and many of her overtly manipulative ways have vanished. She even forgives Gilbert, at long last, and she is a likable character at the end of the book. (I cannot say so much for younger Anne.) But, on the whole, Anne of Green Gables is a book that I don't really get anything out of. It no longer interests me, it does not move or teach me or give me food for thought. I have no hard feelings against it - really, I haven't many feelings at all towards it.
There was one other Montgomery book I attempted, Kilmeny of the Orchard. I got about 1/3 of the way through and then did not allow it to encroach upon my time any longer.