Reading Diary: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
"Do you know, Mrs. Allan, I'm so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much . . . If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us, don't you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful thing in the world."
"Friendship is very beautiful," smiled Mrs. Allan, "but some day . . ."
Then she paused abruptly. In the delicate, whitebrowed face beside her, with its candid eyes and mobile features, there was still more of the child than of the woman. Anne's heart so far harboured only dreams of friendship and ambition, and Mrs. Allan did not wish to brush the bloom from her sweet unconsciousness. So she left her sentence for future years to finish.
Make that future years and future books! I decided to read Anne of Avonlea while waiting for the results of my last poll to pile up, because you rarely get more "unabashedly romantic" than Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe (Am I right?), but this novel actually doesn't cover that.
Yet I'm not at all disappointed! There may be "less" romance here than in many stand-alone love stories, but only in the sense that there is less fragrance in a freshly turned bed with lavender sachets between the sheets than in the main floor of a perfume factory.
Another thing I didn't expect was all the adventure. It's such a different kind of adventure from what I normally associate with the word, so if the text hadn't explicitly pointed it out, I would have missed it by a mile.
Diana: "We're not home yet, and there's no telling what may happen before we are. You're such a girl to have adventures, Anne."
Anne: "Having adventures comes natural to some people. You just have a gift for them or you haven't."
For context: Anne has just fallen through a shed roof up to her armpits, and had to stay stuck there through a rain shower because she didn't want Diana to find an axe and hack her out. (It was someone else's shed, so Anne wanted to ask permission first.)
Now, subtext can be sly. It's the stolen red wagon the guards never notice because they're too busy searching through everything piled upon it for the "real" contraband. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who read that story as a child . . .) So despite all the thinking I've done--for years--about G.K. Chesterton's assertion that girls get in the way of adventures, it wasn't until this week that I saw his sneaky wagon for what it was.
Basically, I've spent all this time passionately trying to prove that girls actually enhance adventures, but never bothered to question the implication that adventures are a boys' domain. In short: GENRE FAIL!
I feel a little foolish about having fallen into the very "kick-butt" trap I tried to warn everyone about; but I could ask for no better friends to help me climb out of it at last than Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. For few other literary heroines (and heroes) have topped the former's talent of slipping into the most unlikely situations and finding the most serendipitous treasures--which is something the latter would swear under oath. And not to make the males feel left out or anything, but every time Anne has another glorious adventure and Diana is dragged in too, there isn't a single boy to be seen!
When life is diverting enough with your girl friends, then I guess romance can wait a little longer. =)
Image Source: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery