If I had to pick one author of fiction who most impacted my childhood, it would be L.M. Montgomery. I read constantly as a child, but there was no author who delighted me more than the woman who wrote my favorite fictional character into existence. I really don’t remember a time during my childhood when I was not reading a book by Montgomery. The Anne of Green Gables series is made up of eight books, and then there is my second favorite series, the Emily of New Moon series, as well as a host of other books starring strong female leads who always saw life as an adventure, loved beauty, and loved to learn. The books you read in childhood can have a profound impact on your life. For me, Anne helped me shape a very distinct view of the world.
Even now, I feel like something in my life is slightly off if I have gone too long without re-reading an L.M. Montgomery book. Her talent for capturing human nature and for showing beauty in the commonplace, adds a distinct flavor to life that I cannot fully explain in words. It sounds overly-dramatic, maybe, but it is the truth. I feel indebted to L.M. in many ways, and I know I am not alone in my sentiments.
As a little tribute, I want to review a few of the things Anne has taught us. I present to you fifteen things we learned from Anne:
1. Making mistakes is a part of life; but if you make up your mind to learn from them, they can’t hold you back.
“It’s so hard to get up again—although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction you have when you do get up, haven’t you?”
2. People won’t always understand you, but that doesn’t mean you should conform to the ideals of unimaginative people.
3. Kindred spirits can be found in very unexpected places, so give everyone a chance.
4. Imagination makes the world a better place, but unfortunately it is of no help at all when it comes to geometry.
5. A plain or boring name does not define you:
“That’s a lovely idea, Diana,’ said Anne enthusiastically. ‘Living so that you beautify your name, even if it wasn’t beautiful to begin with…making it stand in people’s thoughts for something so lovely and pleasant that they never think of it by itself.”
6. When it comes to boys, set your standards high and don’t bother with those who don’t meet that standard.
“Young men are all very well in their place, but it doesn’t do to drag them into everything, does it?”
7. Octobers make the world a more beautiful place.
8. Wearing pretty clothes makes it easier to be good, specifically, wearing puffed sleeves.
9. No matter how dreary today looks, no matter how flawed we may feel, there is always hope in a new day. Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.
10. Having ambitions and big goals can be tiring, but they are worth the sacrifice. One should never stop working diligently toward something.
11. Literature not only opens different worlds to us, it helps us to see the world differently.
12. One should be in no hurry to grow up whatsoever.
“One can’t get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.”
13. Always speak what is on your mind if it adds beauty to the conversation:
“If a kiss could be seen I think it would look like a violet,’ said Priscilla. Anne glowed. ‘I’m so glad you spoke that thought, Priscilla, instead of just thinking it and keeping it to yourself. This world would be a much more interesting place…although it is very interesting, anyhow…if people spoke out their real thoughts.”
14. It is better to live vulnerably, than to live in fear that your hopes may be dashed:
“When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts…it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.”
15. And finally, the lesson that possibly took Anne the longest to learn: true love doesn’t look like it does in day dreams.
“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps…perhaps…love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”
Oh, Anne. We love you. Now excuse me while I go re-read the entire series. Feel free to just…talk about Anne in the comment section.
Jenny Williams is an Oklahoma-native who moved to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to fulfill her dream of living in her favorite city and working on Capitol Hill. It took her two-and-a-half-years, however, to realize that her true passion was not in writing someone else’s policies behind a desk all day but rather in the thing she has always loved: observing the beauty of the world and writing about it. Leaving politics without glancing back, she entered the less glamorous private sector which allows her more time for writing and her other favorite things: making breakfast, tearing up while reading Anne of Green Gables for the fiftieth time and exploring the district with her husband. She can be found elsewhere on the internet at Jeneric Generation.