A Classic Book I Love for The Prose: Anne of Green Gables (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks


Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.


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Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors for many reasons, from her vision to her characters to her keen social observations, but I have also always been in love with her prose. When readers complain about overblown descriptions in novels, I always think about Montgomery’s writing and how she can describe anything and catch my interest– and also convince me she’s seen exactly what it is is she’s describing.

If I were to describe a tree or a flower, for instance, I’d probably end up rather hand-wavy and say it was tall or vibrant and maybe bother to specifically say it was a poplar or a daffodil. It turns out I don’t really know all that much about trees or flowers besides I think they’re nice. L. M. Montgomery, however, makes me believe she knows all about nature and truly loves it, and she makes me wish I were the same.

Here, for instance, is the beginning of a simple description of a garden. The prose is beautiful — I have always loved the phrase “old-fashioned flowers ran riot” — and I come away thinking Montgomery has seen a garden like this and truly enjoys it, not that she’s writing some throwaway description of some plants because she feels she has to:

The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have delighted Anne’s heart at any time less fraught with destiny. It was encircled by huge old willows and tall firs, beneath which flourished flowers that loved the shade. Prim, right-angled paths neatly bordered with clamshells, intersected it like moist red ribbons and in the beds between old-fashioned flowers ran riot.

And here is another example, where Montgomery beautifully describes Anne, nature, and the effect that nature has on Anne:

Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendor above. Even when they had passed out and were driving down the long slope to Newbridge she never moved or spoke. Still with rapt face she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes that saw visions trooping splendidly across that glowing background. Through Newbridge, a bustling little village where dogs barked at them and small boys hooted and curious faces peered from the windows, they drove, still in silence. When three more miles had dropped away behind them the child had not spoken. She could keep silence, it was evident, as energetically as she could talk.

However, Montgomery’s prose is not all flowers and beauty and making me want to fall in love with the world as she sees it. Montgomery also has a remarkable talent for capturing different voices for each of her characters. For instance, here is the no-nonsense Mrs. Rachel Lynde:

“Well, of all things that ever were or will be!” ejaculated Mrs. Rachel when she was safely out in the lane. “It does really seem as if I must be dreaming. Well, I’m sorry for that poor young one and no mistake. Matthew and Marilla don’t know anything about children and they’ll expect him to be wiser and steadier that his own grandfather, if so be’s he ever had a grandfather, which is doubtful. It seems uncanny to think of a child at Green Gables somehow; there’s never been one there, for Matthew and Marilla were grown up when the new house was built—if they ever were children, which is hard to believe when one looks at them. I wouldn’t be in that orphan’s shoes for anything. My, but I pity him, that’s what.”

Compared to Anne gushing over her new dress with puffed sleeves:

“I don’t see how I’m going to eat breakfast,” said Anne rapturously. “Breakfast seems so commonplace at such an exciting moment. I’d rather feast my eyes on that dress. I’m so glad that puffed sleeves are still fashionable. It did seem to me that I’d never get over it if they went out before I had a dress with them. I’d never have felt quite satisfied, you see. It was lovely of Mrs. Lynde to give me the ribbon too. I feel that I ought to be a very good girl indeed. It’s at times like this I’m sorry I’m not a model little girl; and I always resolve that I will be in future. But somehow it’s hard to carry out your resolutions when irresistible temptations come. Still, I really will make an extra effort after this.”

Montgomery’s writing is so versatile. Often flowing and gorgeous, but sharp and biting when it needs to be. I can only aspire to one day write like her!


9 thoughts on “A Classic Book I Love for The Prose: Anne of Green Gables (Classic Remarks)

  1. Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    And you for got weather, the way Montgomery describe all seasons and Anne’s perspective towards it. She is truly was amazing writer and I haven’t seen anyone writing prose like her. Lovely post! this reminded me I have to continue with 5th book in this series.


  2. Izabel Brekilien says:

    I read Anne of Green Gables last year and didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I thought it was mostly a children’s book, but Anne is such a great character, those surrounding her too, I was caught up in her life and have now bought the whole series ^^


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I reread it once in a while, and even though I know it’s amazing, I always have this reaction of “Wow! This is REALLY good!” It holds up every time I read it, even as an adult, which I think is amazing.


  3. Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies says:

    Beautiful post! I love L. M. Montgomery (based on the Anne and Emily series), and want to read everything she’s written. I love her descriptions, but also how she captures the innocence and wonder of being a child in the world.


  4. Mei-Mei says:

    I just started rereading Anne of Green Gables because I’ve never read the rest of the books in the series. I had forgotten how wonderful the prose is. On top of the wonderful characters and the entertaining scrapes Anne gets into, it’s just a pleasure to read.


  5. Anna says:

    I never read Anne of Green Gables. It wasn’t the type of book I was into when I was younger.

    A classic I like for the pose is The Neverending Story. No one ever talks about this book and it feel like a classic that been half forgotten. The writing has this epic feel in scope. Very few fantasy I have read have that type of writing.


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