• J.E Stanway

How Anne Of Green Gables Changed My Life

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Over 100 years ago, Lucy Maud Montgomery released our beloved “Anne-girl” to the world, and to this day she is continuing to brighten our lives with her romance, charisma, and most kindred of spirits! As a Canadian girl as well as romantic, I’ve always greatly identified with Anne. She was what began my great love of reading and appreciation for the bygone era she lived in and has impacted my life in ways I never imagined.

Developing an Interest in the Victorian Aesthetic and Way of Life

I picked up my mother's old copy of the first Anne book when I was somewhere around 9 or 10. I read the first couple of chapters and, though I enjoyed it, ended up picking up a new book and forgot all about it. So a number of years later, after seeing the mini-series and falling in love with the story (and Gilbert Blythe), I decided to order the series and pick it up again. I remember being incredibly anxious for it to arrive, and, once it did, I became ecstatic!

Admittedly, I wasn’t used to reading such flowery prose, and, though I loved it, it took me a while to read. However, once I finished reading it, I was left with a feeling of indescribable warmth and understanding; I saw myself throughout the entire book. So many things that I have felt and thought over the years had been written almost 100 years before I was even born. I’ve never been a vocal person when it comes to sensibilities and the inner workings of my heart, and my only way to ever communicate that was through writing. But after reading Anne, I felt, more or less, as if my soul had been released into the world, and, if anyone wished to understand me, all they needed to do was pick up that book and read.

I have such a love for the old world and the simplicity of it all. I can’t help but wish the world were much the same as it was then when small things like picnics, concerts, and a young man stealing your dance card filled a young girl's heart with delight and excitement. The prospect of being able to wear a dress with puffed sleeves, which nowadays seems like a small thing, was the most delightful and “romantical” thing Anne could ever wish for when she was young. To think that such simple and wholesome things were what made girls excited to grow up is something to be treasured about the world L.M. Montgomery lived in.

Boosting My Self Esteem

Most girls, when they become teenagers, tend to go through a bit of an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are or what will make them happy, and they have to experience and try out all sorts of different things to begin to understand themselves. That was what I was going through during the time I watched Anne of Green Gables for the first time. I had slowly been gaining a love of history and the different time periods (thanks mostly due to Downton Abbey). I loved the idea of proper dinners, afternoon teas, and wearing time period clothing. I was just incredibly fascinated by the past.

I felt, though, like my peers would think I was weird for enjoying those different things instead of following the crowd. I would have taken a tour of a castle over an MCR concert any day, which wasn’t exactly the social norm when I was in junior high school. However, in reading Anne, I realized I wasn’t weird or silly for enjoying the things I did. And even though I already felt that way, I was able to feel confident in my interests instead of being embarrassed about them. Everyone thought Anne was weird because she used big words and spoke her mind and filled her head with romantic ideals, but she didn’t let people's hearsay dissuade her from being who she was. Anne always stayed true to herself, no matter what.

Gaining an Understanding of True Friendship

Not only did Anne give me the confidence to be myself, but she helped me to seek out friendships with people who had similar interests as I did. I admired Anne’s attitude in regard to the friendships she made; she never let her friend's faults outweigh their virtues, always striving to focus on the positive sides of their characters. Often in today’s world, if two young people disagree, or one does something to offend the other, they are automatically written off as being a "toxic" friend and dismissed from each other's lives. Anne taught me, though, that being a good friend means overlooking those faults and recognizing that we ourselves have imperfections too.

Anne and Diana had a wonderful friendship and many things in common, but they differed on some subjects (especially in regards to Gilbert) and on occasion had small fights. Even though they disagreed, however, they didn’t allow that to overshadow all the positive things about their relationship, and thus they maintained their friendship throughout their lives.

This was an example that I hold onto still when dealing with the people in my life. The mentality today is that if you are upset with someone, then you should just delete them from your life, but if we did that to everyone who may have slightly rubbed us the wrong way or spoke without thinking, we’d have no friends at all. The Anne series sets a good example of how friendships should be, and I reflect on it often to console myself and give me further confidence in the love I have for others.

Becoming my Haven of Comfort

Anne of Green Gables has had such a large impact on my personality, and I credit it for being a major contributor to the way I’ve grown up. After watching the film and reading the novel, I began to see the world through new eyes and slowly started to realize how important the simplicities of life are to me. Anne took great refuge in reading a novel on the steps of Green Gables during the summer when all of the flowers were in bloom. She viewed a simple string of pearls gifted to her by Matthew as worthy of beauty and contentment.

Whenever I'm going through a low or am in need of a boost in my spirits, I watch the film, or I reflect on the many memorable quotations from the books and feel a pure rush of relief and joy go through me. L.M. Montgomery probably never knew how great an impact her red-headed heroine would have on the world, but suffice it to say her book changed my life, and it will always hold the dearest of places in my heart.

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