Where I Got It: Reviewer copy from the publisher (thanks!).
Who I Recommend This To: Fans of Pipi Longstalking, and other tales that mischievous and curious kids.
Narrator: Colleen Winton
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press (2013)
Length: 10 hours 7 minutes
The elderly Cuthberts have decided they need an extra pair of hands around the farm, especially for all those pesky chores in the long Canadian winters. They decided to adopt an orphan boy. That alone was cause for talk among the neighbors. Unfortunately, the mistress of the orphan house makes a mistake and sends a young lass instead, Anne Shirley. Matthew Cuthbert takes her home anyway until things can be sorted out. Along the way, Anne falls in love with the land, and the farm. Matthew starts to change his mind about keeping her but Marilla Cuthbert just won’t have it. So Anne’s first challenge in this book (but certainly not her first in life and not her last) is to convince the Cuthberts to keep her on. Full of wonder and joy at life, many learn to overlook her penchant for speaking her mind. In fact, some become outright charmed by it. Set in the early 1900s rural Canada, Anne fills her world with wonder and magic.
Somehow, I missed this series in its entirety (never read it, never watched the many version of it, no plays, etc.) growing up. But I know by now the fine work the folks at Post Hypnotic Press do. So I gave it a try. And I was charmed. In fact, if I was ever a cleaned mouthed, less jaded person, I think I may have been much like Anne. I can be distracted by beetles, I have a tendency to be blunt, and I love the realm of fantasy. Anne is a little heavier on the romance in her likes, but I am sure she and I could be friends.
While it is obvious that the book is set in the early 1900s, with the ‘proper’ roles of women (like women don’t have the legal right to vote), church is a mandatory weekly occurrence, and there was one remark about letting strangers in the house that could be construed as racist (against Italians, which seemed odd to me), these few negatives are balanced out by Anne’s huge imagination, and the trouble she gets into. This novel spans several years of Anne’s life, so there are plenty of humorous events to enjoy. Anne hates her red hair, and attempts to dye it black. But it comes out this muddled green. So, they have to shave it off. Haha! I found this pretty humorous, and part of it was because of the location and times. In today’s day, green hair, or a bald head isn’t so unusual. But for 1909 Canada, well…I expect it was the talk of the village for at least a week.
Besides the humor, there are also scenes of more seriousness that give this tale a weight that many children’s’ books lack. Anne was an orphan and spent time in several homes before coming to the Cuthberts. Most often, she was set right to work taking care of the children and hence wasn’t allowed to be a child herself, to go to school, or attend social events. On one house, she had to contend with an alcoholic. While much of Anne’s life before the Cuthberts was merely alluded to, there was enough there to let the life experienced reader fill in the gaps.
All in all, I enjoyed this book more than I expected. I found it a good mix of magical innocence of growing up in the countryside and remembered hardship of starting off an orphan. Anne’s lasting friendships with the people of Avonlea were also quite touching.
The Narration: Colleen Winton was an excellent choice for this book. She performed with abandon, just as I imagined Anne would. Winton imbued Anne’s voice with wonder, Marilla’s with steadfastness, Anne’s friend Diana with constant curiosity in Anne’s shenanigans.
What I Liked: Country living; plenty of imagination; red hair gone awry; a slightly more serious side balances out the innocent humor; narration was top notch.
What I Disliked: While not particularly pertinent to the story, I find the cover boring.
What Others Think: