Anne of Green Gables: A Multi-Generational Experience

Author Adriana Pacheco

Celebrated Canadian poet Bliss Carman was once quoted as saying that Anne of Green Gables “is one of those flesh and blood characters whom we cherish in the quiet places of our hearts; kept for the dearest mortals we know.”

His words ring true to this day; over 100 years since the publication of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel. But what is it that draws people of all ages to the story of this freckled-faced waif, who just longs for a home? When Anne of Green Gables was first published, it was marketed as a children’s book and even now if you go to the bookstore, you will find it in the children’s section. But many feel that Anne of Green Gables is not a children’s book. It is a story that deals with the most fundamental aspects of being human: finding love, finding out who you are as a person and having dreams; all wound up in a story that resonates with the meaning of life and death. It may be the story of a young girl growing up, but it is also the story of all of us. The novel transcends age limits and gender and reinforces the importance of family, security, community ,and home.

“Anne’s world attracts audiences and fans of the novel to the things we all want most in life. The image of Green Gables is the distillation of the very best of the human condition,”says Anne of Green Gables Director Kevin Sullivan. “All our common hopes, desires and dreams are wrapped up in everything it symbolizes. 100 years after the publication of Anne of Green gables, I am always surprised how every year, so many people around the world discover and fall in love with Anne Shirley for the first time; whether it is through Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novels or through watching my series of films.”

For many of us, the first discovery of Anne and the world of Green Gables may have been as children. Our parents may have read us the book, or we may have read it in school or discovered the story through film and television adaptations. These experiences were often something that we were able to share with parents or even grandparents. Something that added up to a unique multi-generational experience. For those of us who only found Anne as adults, we may have heard a friend talking about the films or television series they were watching, or seen a video on YouTube or read a blog where it is mentioned as one of the top period dramas to watch or top 100 books to read. We might have seen the spin-off television series Road To Avonlea and only discovered Anne afterward. However we discovered Anne, as a child or an adult, one common thing has kept us all coming back and that is that we can all in some way identify with the characters and the “spirit of place” that L.M. Montgomery created.

Montgomery had an acute understanding of human nature and the complexities that exist within people.She had a firm grasp of the nuances that exist in each human being and situation. She understood cruelty, but she believed in hope. She was able to craft complex characters that are identifiable to all of us; as they appear at certain points in our journey through life. Moreover, she knew how to translate her unique vision of life and the world that surrounded her in a way that resonates in a reader’s core and stays embedded there, forever. She created a story and a world that is a perpetual reminder that despite all the cruelties,disappointment and inequities in life, kindness, warmth and extraordinary people and places do exist everywhere.

“Anne of Green Gables is much more than a children’s book,” says Kevin Sullivan, “It allows its reader to experience genuine, sometimes raw human emotions and to encounter characters that many of us, in the upheaval of the last century, still yearn for and desperately want to believe still exist.”

Anne of Green Gables is a story that never tires of retelling, a book that can be re-read often, a film that can be watched continually without growing old. It is timeless, multi-generational and its a story that grows with us, that we evolve with and connect to differently with each re-read and re-watch. It is a story that we want to share with our friends, loved ones and children so that they too can experience the wonders of Anne’s world.

That it resonates to this day and with so many people worldwide is a testament to the strength of the story that Montgomery weaved and that those who have adapted her story have been able to build on.

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