63 pages 2 hours read

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne Of Green Gables

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1908

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Anne of Green Gables is a world-renowned classic children’s novel first published in 1908 by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery. Set in the latter part of the 19th century in fictional Avonlea, a small town on Prince Edward Island, Canada, the story follows the accidental arrival of a precocious 11-year-old orphan girl, Anne Shirley, at Green Gables, the family homestead of middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Many mishaps, adventures, and ultimate successes follow Anne as she grows up and grows closer to the Cuthberts, and the novel explores the journey of how true familial bonds are forged even in the toughest of times. Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 36 languages and has sold over 50 million copies worldwide, and its central red-headed heroine has been immortalized in many films and television shows. Anne is the first novel in an original eight-part series, with a ninth sequel published after the author’s death. This literary guide uses the Barnes and Noble hardcover edition.

Plot Summary

Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl from Nova Scotia, is sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, two middle-aged siblings who live at Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. Anne’s upbringing has been one of despair and dismay; she bounces from home to home, never being truly wanted, and her initial visit to Green Gables is no exception: the Cuthberts sent for a young boy to help on the farm, but Anne is delivered instead.

Matthew quickly takes to the young girl, whose idle chatter prevents the shy bachelor from ever having to speak, but Anne meets her match in Marilla, a practical, sensible spinster who cannot bear Anne’s vivid imagination. Though Marilla wants to send Anne back to the orphanage immediately, she allows Anne to stay because Matthew does not want to send the girl back to horrible conditions at the orphanage. Marilla decides she will take it upon herself to bring Anne up properly.

This proves to be easier said than done, as Anne has a spirit and a mind of her own. She constantly finds herself in mishaps and scrapes, most of which require penance or an apology. From flying off the handle when Mrs. Rachel, a close friend and neighbor of Marilla’s, teases her about her looks to creating false, dramatic confessions to get herself out of trouble, there is never a dull moment with Anne. Before she can help herself, Marilla finds herself welcoming the girl’s company more and more.

Anne finds a close friend, a “kindred spirit” as she calls them, in the form of Diana Barry, who lives on the next farm over. When Anne starts school in Avonlea, she quickly becomes the smartest girl in the room and one of the most liked, but it is her relationship with the handsome and intelligent Gilbert Blythe that makes school worthwhile for Anne. Her distaste for him, spurred by his nickname for her—“Carrots,” a jab at her red hair—causes her to compete with him at every corner.

When she is 16, Anne sits for the entrance examination to Queen’s Academy with the help of her teacher, Miss Stacy. She earns her teaching certificate in one year instead of the usual two and wins the Avery Scholarship, a $250 a year grant to four-year Redmond College. However, Matthew’s tragic death of a heart attack when he hears that they have fallen into financial ruin due to a bank failure makes Anne reconsider her future plans. Anne chooses to give up the scholarship and stay at Green Gables with Marilla so that she doesn’t have to sell the family home. Gilbert gives up his teaching position at the Avonlea school so she can take it and be closer to home, and the two reconcile at the end of the novel, with the promise of a close friendship on the horizon.

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