Anne of Avonlea
© 1909 Lucy Maud Montgomery
I recently took my niece to see a production of “Annie” at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and it put me in a mood to revisit Anne of Green Gables, another red-headed heroine I’d first encountered at the theater. When I read the actual novel a couple of years ago, I found Anne an utterly charming character, a match for America’s Tom Sawyer. That novel ended with a young orphan reaching the cusp of adulthood, finishing her education and preparing to take her place in the community. Thus Anne of Green Gables (the verdant name of her home) becomes Anne of Avonlea, a woman of her town. Anne of Avonlea follows the course of Anne’s transition from teen to adult, as she launches a teaching career and sees her theories put to the test against real live children — and invests herself more deeply in the village by creating a society for its improvement. Anne’s increasing maturity also displays itself when she faces dilemmas square in the face, and refuses to quit believing that even schoolroom hellions and village cranks can be reached. Anne’s sweet spirit and the air of possibility around her make her a popular figure in the village, which is good because she still tends to get into scrapes. (Most memorably, she climbs on top of a neighbor’s roof to investigate dishes in their pantry for sale during their absence, and plunges midway through, getting thoroughly stuck.) After two years, however, greater challenges — college and real adulthood — await. That’s a story for Anne of the Island, however!