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Anne of Avonlea

Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #2)Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books ever. But the story doesn’t stop there! I’ve never read the entire series, so I’m on a mission to do just that. This second installment I have read before, and I love it just as much as the preceding book. Here, Anne takes her first halting steps into adulthood, and the change is both charming and sad. Anne will always be a free spirit, but seeing her temper that spiritedness enough to become an effective teacher was fascinating to behold.

I’ve always loved schoolmarm stories. There’s something about one-room schoolhouses and having to teach to so many age groups simultaneously that blows my mind. I’m a teacher, but I can’t even fathom having to teach every subject to every age group every single day. I don’t know how teachers of the past did it. The thing is, I know that if I had lived in the same time period, I would have sought out to do exactly that. Though it was undoubtedly hard work, there’s a romance to being a schoolmarm that has always appealed to me. Because of this, I love reading about school teachers of the past. I have to say, Anne Shirley made a remarkable schoolmarm. She’s kind and thoughtful and is just barely out of childhood herself, so she remembers what it’s like to be on the other side of the blackboard, so to speak. All of those traits coupled with her renowned imagination means that Anne can relate to her students better than most, and that she finds new and unique methods of teaching them.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the introduction of two new little boys: Paul Irving and Davy. I don’t think you could possibly find two more radically different boys in real life or in fiction. Paul Irving is a sweet, smart, thoughtful boy with an imagination that rivals Anne’s, and he and Anne are undoubtedly kindred spirits. Davy is a spitfire, a rambunctious boy with the greatest propensity for questioning I’ve ever seen. And the questions that boy comes up with! There’s no way I could’ve kept a straight face while trying to answer some of those questions. Though both boys are as different as can be, they’re both incredibly dear to Anne.

In this book we also visit Echo Lodge for the first time and meet Miss Lavendar, another kindred spirit. Miss Lavendar is an old maid unlike any other. She refuses to go gently into spinsterhood, and has instead built a beautiful if lonely life for herself. Echo Lodge is beautiful and magical, almost like a fairy realm. And Miss Lavendar makes a stunning fairy queen; the only way you could guess her age is by her snow-white hair. She’s just as imaginative as Anne, and she gets a wonderful happy ending in this book.

The book ends with Anne and Gilbert both deciding to head off to college. Even though I love knowing where their story is heading (after all, theirs is often billed as one of the greatest romances in fiction), I’m loving every second of the journey. It’s so nice to have a romantic element that isn’t instantaneous, but instead builds over the course of multiple books. Romance when approached this way just feels both more realistic and more wholesome to me.

Can you tell I love this series? I wish I had discovered it when I was a child, but I’m enjoying it immensely now as an adult. If you love historical fiction with a bright and uplifting worldview, you owe it to yourself to read this series. It’s one of easiest classics to read that I’ve yet to come across.

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