When I was a child, I remember that my mother, who was born in 1904, used to say that her favorite book when she was growing up was “Anne of Green Gables.” I have never read the book, but now, through the miracle of Netflix and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, I was able to savor this heartwarming tale about an orphan in Canada named Anne Shirley. The novel was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, also a Canadian.
During her stay in an orphanage, Anne (played by Megan Follows) learned that she would be adopted by a middle-aged sister and brother, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, who lived on a farm in Prince Edward Island. Having been a foster child to a cruel family in Nova Scotia, Anne was thrilled at the expectation of her adoption. However, she was unaware that the couple had actually asked for a boy to help with the chores on the farm.
Anne and Matthew
Matthew (played by Richard Farnsworth), a kind-hearted soul, took easily to Anne, but Marilla (Colleen Dewhurst) was taken aback by Anne’s constant chatter and extroverted personality. Marilla agreed to keep her on a trial basis, if she was not troublesome. One day, Anne returned a neighbor’s insult with one of her own and was put on probation by Marilla with the threat of going back to the orphanage.
One of Anne’s biggest dreams was to have a bosom friend, and she found one in Diana Barry, one of her classmates. They were compatible friends until Anne invited Diana for tea one day and was allowed to serve Marilla’s raspberry cordial. A mix-up occurred and Marilla’s famous currant wine was served by mistake. Anne did not realize that Diana was helping herself to the bottle of wine while Anne was preparing their meal. Of course, Diana became intoxicated, Anne was blamed, and Diana was forbidden to see her friend ever again.
Anne’s lively nature got her into trouble many, many times, but her intelligence was recognized by her teachers as well as her classmates. Her main competition for the class’s highest honors was Gilbert Blythe, with whom she developed a love-hate relationship.
Green Gables Farmhouse in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
Megan Follows was the perfect choice for the part of Anne Shirley. She seems to be in possession of every attribute that characterizes Anne. Richard Farnsworth does a remarkable job of portraying Matthew, who was too shy as a youngster to talk to girls, thus becoming a shy bachelor. He doted on their young charge and bought her many gifts. Colleen Dewhurst showed the restraint that was characteristic of Marilla, determined that Anne would be brought up properly.
“Anne of Green Gables” is a delightful story. I am so happy to learn about the characters who so enriched my mother’s life when she was a young girl. It is a tale that I will read again, cherishing it just as my mother did.
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