Goodreads: Anne of Avonlea
Series: Anne #2
Now a teacher at Avonlea school, sixteen-year-old Anne Shirley has a lot of aspirations: inspire her students to greatness, study in preparation for college, and help Marilla raise a pair of orphaned twins.
Anne of Avonlea captures much of the charm of its predecessor, Anne of Green Gables. Anne and her friends seem to have aged naturally and gracefully; at the ripe old age of sixteen, Anne is now a school teacher and, in her eyes, a woman–and yet she retains just enough of her girlish delight in living to ensure that she is as endearing as ever. Diana, meanwhile, remains just as endearingly sensible as ever. One feels as if one truly has returned to Avonlea and met up with old friends.
And yet one can see a bit of the strain of writing. Montgomery seems determined to imitate the success of Anne of Green Gables by reusing some of its elements. The propensity for the sentimental can be seen in Marilla’s adopting of twins, Davy and Dora, ensuring that childish antics will still abound, even if Anne is now grown. And Anne’s character is split into two new characters–the mischievous Davy and the dreamy Paul. But neither fully captures her own original charm.
Anne, as the story itself points out, found herself in scrapes, but Davy is really bad–he lies, pulls feathers out of pet birds, and locks his scared sister up. Anne and Marilla love him for this–apparently he “needs” them more than his well-behaved sister Dora, who is consistently dismissed as “boring” because she behaves. We don’t hear much else of her. One suspects her new guardians forget about her a lot. At least, no one ever asks her what she is thinking. All this makes Davy a less compelling character than the young Anne–he’s naughty and rewarded with affection for it while his sister is considered a non-entity.
Paul Irving is the dreamy half of Anne now incarnate in a new child, but he, too, is less interesting than Anne, because the sentimentality really comes out in his depiction. He ends all his sentences with an aggravating “you know” and refers to his dead mother as his “little mother.” The narrator informs us that there is nothing “girlish” about him despite his imagination, however. Apparently even Montgomery worried he might seem a little too sickeningly sweet.
The strong parts of the book all deal with Anne, from her adventures in learning how to teach (But don’t worry about her. She has one year of high school and no experience on the job, and is handed the dream job of her choice immediately upon graduation–she’s fine.), trying to “improve” Avonlea, and meeting an unexpected kindred spirit. And, oh, there’s Gilbert Blythe. As Anne heads off to college, we can expect less Davy and more Anne. I’m ready to get started!