The quote, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” by L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite quotes. To me, October is the best month of the year, with crisp weather, falling leaves, and cozy fires. This October, it felt fitting to focus on a reread of the Anne of Green Gables series, especially during my Year of Historical Reading. With all of the uncertainty and craziness in the world today, an escape to Prince Edward Island was just what I needed to keep my sanity!
Anne of Green Gables and its sequels are some of my favorite books from childhood. I remember falling in love with Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Marilla, and Matthew as I read the original book several times as a child. I also loved Anne of Avonlea, the sequel to the first book. Several years ago, I got the entire Anne series of books as a Christmas gift and have meant to reread them. I’m so glad that I read all eight of the books from the series this month. I don’t believe that I had read them all before, and some really surprised me by being almost as good as the original!
Here are my books for October, and I have indicated if they were pulled from my unread shelves, purchased, or borrowed from the library.
All links are Amazon affiliate links. You can also find links to the books at my store on Bookshop.org, which gives a percentage back to creators and independent bookstores.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (own)
This is the classic tale for middle grade readers about the orphan, 11-year-old Anne Shirley, who is sent to Green Gables in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in 1876. Older siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, ask for a male orphan to help them with their farm but Anne is mistakenly sent instead. After a bumpy start, Anne endears herself to all of Avonlea, with her wit, creativity, and love of nature infecting all who meet her. She is a delightful young girl, perhaps a bit too melodramatic and talkative, but charming nonetheless. She attracts the attention of Gilbert Blythe, a local boy, who will play a big role in her future, and her bosom friend, Diana, who will be her best friend for life. As a girl, I read this book several times over, and I dreamed of visiting Prince Edward Island to see the beautiful vistas of Anne’s world. One day, I will make it there! I highly recommend this book for any reader, young or old, and if you loved it as a child, you must read it now as an adult. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be amazed at how differently you view some things! My son loved the graphic novel adaptation as well. If you’re purchasing the book as a gift, be sure to check out the lovely versions of the book, like this one from Puffin in Bloom!
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (own)
This sequel to Anne of Green Gables finds Anne at 16-years-old with many grown-up decisions to make. With Matthew’s death and Marilla’s failing health, Anne foregos her dreams of college (for now!) and settles in as the teacher of the Avonlea school thanks to the generosity of Gilbert Blythe, whose presence is always full of meaning. Anne faces real-life challenges in this book, from work to love to family, as she matures into a lovely young woman full of life and potential. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that leaves you happy and hopeful for Anne’s future. I especially enjoyed reading about the exploits of the twins that Marilla takes in and the sharp tongue of Rachel Lynde!
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (own)
I loved reading this book about Anne and Gilbert’s time at college. While not a couple, you sense the underlying romantic tension, even if Anne herself is oblivious. The near misses and the will they/won’t they tell each other how they feel is palpable. I also loved reading about Anne’s time with her roommates in “Patty’s Place.” The ending of this book is one of my favorites!
Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery (own)
Published well after most of the other books, this book explains Anne’s life during the three years she served as Principal of the Summerside school. The only glimpses of Anne’s previous friends and family are through her letters home or to Gilbert as he finishes up medical school. I love how Anne, as always, finds “kindred spirits” no matter where she lives and brings happiness to everyone she meets. This book has some interesting characters, including a sad, lonely little girl next door and spinster sisters who rule the town. It had some laugh out loud funny moments – my favorite being the description of a man who always disappoints, including when the doctor said he would die but he ended up living! The sharp retorts and hilarious stories make the gossip between the townspeople compulsively readable!
Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery (own)
This book starts with Anne and Gilbert’s wedding at Green Gables, and the loveliness just grows from there. As always, Anne meets friends in her new town, including busybody Miss Cornelia, the boisterous Captain Jim, and the beautiful but reclusive Leslie Moore. I really enjoyed getting to know these new characters (even though Miss Cornelia’s gossip does get to be a little too much!). A tragic event dims Anne’s light ever so slightly, but overall, this book of her and Gilbert’s first years of marriage is a dream in which we’d all want to live!
Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (own)
Published after all of the other books, Anne of Ingleside is the story of Anne and Gilbert’s family, which now includes six children! I loved learning about each child’s personality and physical traits, seeing hints of Anne and Gilbert from their youth. Reading about adult Anne is almost as delightful as reading about her as a child. She is a wonderful mother and thoughtful friend, always willing to listen and empathize. Her marriage to Gilbert is strong and weathers even the toughest of storms. I just want to step into the book and sit at her kitchen table, listening to the children’s stories!
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery (own)
This was my least favorite of all of the books, but I still really liked it. The book centers mostly on the Blythe family’s friends, the Merediths, and their exploits in the Presbyterian manse. I enjoyed learning about the family, and it is a necessary book to understand the last book in the series. However, the Blythe family isn’t as large a part of the book as I would have liked! I did love the budding romance between Mr. Meredith and Miss Rosemary and wanted to scream at the characters when all seemed lost! Thankfully, as always, everything works out well in the end. Be forewarned before you hand it to your tween that there is an offensive word in the original version of the book that I hope has been edited out of more recent additions.
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (own)
Dare I say this is my favorite book in the entire series, including the original? I believe this book is the best one for adults to read, as it deals with hard topics such as war and death, but it is still quite safe and appropriate for tweens as well. This book follows the lives of Anne’s children as World War I wreaks havoc on the world, including their safe home of Prince Edward Island. Anne’s boys join the Canadian troops sent to the battlefields in Europe while most of the girls join aid societies in college. This leaves only Anne’s youngest, Marilla (or Rilla) behind at Ingleside. A lovely, caring girl of 14, Rilla copes with the changing world and the harshness it brings to her charmed life. I really enjoyed learning about the Canadian homefront during WWI and found it so interesting that the women, who before the war had read the newspaper just for the town gossip, were now plotting out battle strategy and learning about faraway towns in Russia or Poland. Their happiness rises and falls with each news brief, with heartache always a possibility. I cried many times while reading this book, including every time Jem’s loyal dog was mentioned. If you’re looking for a way to learn more about the little-known WWI homefront, this book is a fantastic option.
I also read two additional Anne of Green Gables-related books this month:
Marilla of Green Gables: A Novel by Sarah McCoy (own)
This prequel, written recently, gives readers the background story on Marilla Cuthbert, who adopts Anne. A severe, strict woman by the time Anne gets to Green Gables, this book explains why she is so joyless. A hard life full of loss and tragedy leads Marillla and Matthew down a lonely path that only Anne can rescue. Marilla’s budding romance with John Blythe was my favorite part of the book and left me sad at the “what ifs” it suggests. I loved reading about the younger Avonlea townspeople who end up playing a significant role in the Anne books later, especially the future Mrs. Rachel Lynde. It was also interesting to learn about Canada’s history with the Underground Railroad and escaped enslaved people who made it to freedom but still feared capture. Note that this book is not for middle grade readers and is appropriate for older teens.
The Landscapes of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island that Inspired L. M. Montgomery by Catherine Reid (own – purchased this month)
The book details the amazing landscapes and scenery of Prince Edward Island that inspired Avonlea, Green Gables, and Anne’s imagination. The pictures in the book are just gorgeous, and I especially loved how the author included Montgomery’s original photographs with ones from today’s PEI. I have always dreamed about visiting PEI, and maybe once the pandemic is over, I will make it there. In the meantime, I will just have to visit through the websites of the various sites:
- Green Gables Heritage Place
- Anne of Green Gables Museum
- L.M. Montgomery Birthplace
- L.M. Montgomery Literary Tour
There are other books written about Anne, Gilbert, and the Blythe family, including additional books by L.M. Montgomery:
I think these will be on my Christmas list!
I also tried reading another prequel, written with the authorization of the Montgomery heirs, Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson. I made it 50 pages into the book but had to stop reading once Anne’s parents died. I knew the next 350 pages were going to be so hard and sad. I just couldn’t do it! I did enjoy learning about Anne’s parents and their hopeful love that ended in tragedy.
I also recently picked up two books about L.M. Montgomery herself: Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery for young adults and House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery for young readers. I’ll report back once I’ve read them!
Immersing myself in the inspiring world of Green Gables was just what I needed this month. I highly recommend reading childhood classics like this during a stressful or difficult month (or months!). The true delight in reading a childhood favorite comes from both the words and the memory of reading it as a child. It helped me have a wonderful literary October!
Stats for October:
100% historical fiction and nonfiction
10 of 125+ unread books
Have you ever immersed yourself in one book series or location for an entire month?