Lucy Maud Montgomery was a Canadian author best known for her novel Anne of Green Gables and the other books that followed in that series. All of which are wonderful, but Anne of Green Gables is actually not my favorite of Montgomery’s novels, even though it is wonderful and timeless and always a great reread. No, my top three L. M. Montgomery novels that I most enjoy rereading are the following:
1. The Blue Castle – a standalone sweet romance, but also a (belated) coming-of age novel about a mousy young woman, Valancy, with an absolutely odious family, who wakes up on her 29th birthday realizing she has no sort of life at all. Through a series of incidents and events, she throws her constricting life aside and decides to live to please herself, finding love and happiness in the process. Something about this book always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy; it’s definitely a comfort book for me. I love it when good things happen to good people in the end.
2. Rilla of Ingleside – the last book in the Anne series about her youngest daughter, Rilla. Another coming-of-age novel (I do like those!), and for some reason I just really enjoy rereading this one. It takes place during World War I, with all the boys off fighting the war, and watching Rilla grow from a spoiled, silly little girl to a mature young woman is always a fun journey.
3. Anne of the Island – of course my favorite Anne book has to be the one where [spoiler alert] she finally, finally realizes she loves Gilbert. What a relief! But that’s not until the end, and her college years are an absolute delight to read, populated with lots of interesting side characters and plots.
And of course no Lucy Maud Montgomery post would be complete without mentioning the hue and cry over a self-published cover on Amazon last year featuring a sexy, buxom, blonde Anne. Because the book is in the public domain, anyone can self-publish an edition of it. Amazon no longer has this edition for sale, by the way. So one person chose to do this, either deliberately hoping to create a stir (my guess, and it definitely worked), or in complete and utter ignorance and illiteracy. For those of you who haven’t read Anne of Green Gables (Y chromosome, anyone?), Anne’s red hair is an absolutely essential and integral part of the story.
Here is the cover of the first edition, as well as a few other Anne covers I found while browsing the web, all of which also make me raise an eyebrow, though none so high as the above blonde.
The book it took me the longest to warm up to (I would just skip over it when reading through the series as a girl) was Anne of Windy Poplars, simply because I didn’t like epistolary novels. I like them somewhat better as an adult, and I now fully appreciate Anne of Windy Poplars as much as the others, except Rainbow Valley, which focuses on Anne and Gilbert’s children and is my least favorite. Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea, collections of short stories about the people who live in and around Avonlea, feature Anne in quite a few of the stories, and overall have a very Maeve Binchy feel to them, if you’re looking for a modern corollary. I think I’ve read all or almost all of Montgomery’s other novels and short series at least once, but the Anne books and The Blue Castle will always be my favorites.
One last bit of trivia, which may be completely uninteresting to anyone reading this, but which I enjoyed learning from Montgomery’s Wikipedia page, is the order the Anne books were written in:
- Anne of Green Gables (1908)
- Anne of Avonlea (1909)
- Anne of the Island (1915)
- Anne’s House of Dreams (1917)
- Rainbow Valley (1919)
- Rilla of Ingleside (1921)
- Anne of Windy Poplars (1936)
- Anne of Ingleside (1939)
I was going to write about the Anne of Green Gables pilgrimage my mother and I are making in 10 days, but that will have to wait for my next post, as this one is already far too long.