Anne of the Island
September 25, 2019 2:40 PM - by L. M. Montgomery - Subscribe

New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and frivolous new pal Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises...including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson.

Anne moves into the wider world, investigates her roots, and begins to solidify her identity as a writer, an Islander, and an adult. A new stock of characters, including some cats, is introduced. Everyone falls in love with Anne (except those men who are falling in love with her friends), including Rusty the cat. Ruby Gillis meets a Sad End, apparently as a direct result of flirting too much. Jane Andrews marries a millionaire. Gilbert almost dies of the Typhoid Fever. A romantic subplot is resolved

Proposals (to Anne): 6

Words Laurie Klein mispronounced in the audiobook: modish, Phillipa, and quahog.
Klein also seems to have modelled her Philippa on Jane Russell's Dorothy Shaw in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Side note/crossover: Anne offers a moment of reflection when she comes across the grave of one of the casualties of the Battle of the Chesapeake. This famous encounter in naval history was described in The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian, discussed by our sibling book club.
posted by bq (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was surprised to see so little discussion of academics; maybe I was hoping for something closer to 'Gaudy Night', here, but LLM doesn't really share any of Anne's educational journey with the reader, and doesn't really engage in any substantive way. She seems wholly concerned with Anne's spiritual and emotional growth rather than her intellectual growth, which could have made the book much more rewarding and complex, but also maybe less accessible?

I'm glad at least that Anne does realize she has treated Roy Gardner rather shabbily after she rejects him and endures a suitable amount of self-mortification.

Also, let us note that Jonathan Crombia was a very handsome man. Previously.
posted by bq at 2:53 PM on September 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

This one is my favorite! Setting up an adorable cozy house with your friends! Fearfully and wonderfully embroidered cushions! Making lemon pies and going to dances! A dress with tiny rosebuds all over it! Proposals both comical and angsty! Gilbert ALMOST DIES!
posted by exceptinsects at 4:13 PM on September 25, 2019 [10 favorites]

Ruby Gillis meets a Sad End, apparently as a direct result of flirting too much.

Ruby Gillis had tuberculosis, or in the parlance of the times, "galloping consumption". I remember shedding tears over her tragic death. She was so young, with so much to live for -- she was teaching school and had found the young man she wanted to marry -- and fought so hard for her life, and it did no good at all.

Anne of the Island was really enjoyable. So many great new characters and enjoyable incidents, and a satisfying romantic engagement scene at the end. Philippa's awesome -- I so wish she was in all the rest of the books. And alas for that chocolate cake that one of the girls hid under a cushion and that Royal Gardner's sister Aline sat on.
posted by orange swan at 7:16 PM on September 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Oh, I need to reread all of these! I loved this particular time in Anne's life and all these wonderful characters.
posted by acidnova at 8:23 PM on September 25, 2019

until I read lmm's journals I had pictured the spotted china dogs as Dalmatians...but the irl ones looked more like large spaniels
posted by brujita at 6:23 AM on September 26, 2019

This is one of the Anne books I go back to the most, because of it's cozy house-making with all her friends. Plus so many crazy proposals, it's just delicious.
posted by PussKillian at 11:49 AM on September 26, 2019

I love the fact that one of the characters is named "Moody Spurgeon MacPherson." I don't think that registered with me until recently. It's just such a great name, especially for a would-be minister.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:32 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

in the anne and Gilbert play jonas is combined with moody spurgeon and christine combined with josie pye
posted by brujita at 1:10 PM on September 26, 2019

I was wondering whether Moody was a nickname - given his temperment it might be. It was delightful hearing the narrator read his name in full every time.

Here's a picture of the original Gog and Magog Dogs (before restoration). I'm glad they survived the book, I was really worried about them during the scene when the Gardner ladies visit.

About Ruby Gillis: I distinctly remember looking the word 'consumption' up in the dictionary and asking my mom about it when I first read these books, around age 11? I didn't know at the time that my dad's grandmother had died of tuberculosis. She was sent away to an sanitarium and never came home. The children were split up and raised by different people and it totally destroyed the family - they almost never spoke to each other as adults despite living in the same area.

I looked at the wikipedia page for TB and was shocked to discover that "As of 2018 one-quarter of the world's population is thought to be infected with TB.[6] New infections occur in about 1% of the population each year.[12] In 2017, there were more than 10 million cases of active TB which resulted in 1.6 million deaths. This makes it the number one cause of death from an infectious disease."
posted by bq at 1:20 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

moody(ie) is also a surname and it's traditional for boys (and sometimes girls) to be given their mother's maiden name as 1st or middle: note anne and Gilbert name their youngest boy shirley...though there was never anything from his POV and the plotline of susan baker being his main caregiver is never fleshed out.
posted by brujita at 2:03 PM on September 26, 2019

Moody Spurgeon MacPherson was named after two famous nineteenth-century ministers -- D.L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon -- because his mother wanted him to be a minister. Moody Spurgeon didn't want to be a minister, but given his name he felt he had no choice.

I love how L.M. Montgomery's little comic devices get even funnier when you start thinking about and dissecting them.
posted by orange swan at 2:44 PM on September 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

one of the duggars named her kid spurgeon....or maybe she "graciously submitted" to her husband's choice.
posted by brujita at 3:01 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

As someone who also set up a cozy house with friends in college, Anne of the Island always gives me a lot of nostalgia. We didn't have china dogs, but we did have this weird iridescent fish pillow on the couch that everyone who came over was just enraptured by. Fortunately it never destroyed any chocolate cakes.

As for Ruby Gillis, I think people are right to pick up on the moralizing in that sad tale. Apparently in the late Victorian period, many became convinced that TB could be caused by "fast living" or sexual immorality, which is what the author seems to hint at about Ruby, at least before she became ill. The disease was also heavily romanticized though, since it usually took so long for the sufferers to die (although the galloping consumption that Ruby had tended to move a bit faster, hence the name), and they wasted away into pale, thin, and to the Victorian aesthetic, at least, beautiful shadows of themselves.
posted by katyggls at 4:48 AM on September 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

My reading of the intended moral of Ruby Gillis's sad end was not that she had been sexually immoral but that she had led a frivolous, shallow life, which left her feeling as though she would be, as Ruby put it herself, "frightened" and "homesick" in the Christian conception of heaven that she expected to go to. Here's a passage from the description of Ruby's last conversation with Anne:

Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she have lived solely for the little things of life -- the things that pass -- forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other -- from twilight to unclouded day.

Later, as Anne is walking home from her visit to Ruby's house, she resolves:

The evening had changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same; but the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not be to face the next with the shrinking terror of something wholly different -- something for which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth.

I honestly don't think Montgomery was being judgy about Ruby being a flirt. Montgomery herself was sometimes called a flirt in her teens, by the way, but she always thought of herself as simply having some innocent fun. Now that I think about it, the idea of young girls being flighty and frivolous and growing into a better person is a theme that comes up often in her work, but Montgomery never indicates there's anything actually wrong with young girls enjoying the attention they get from boys until the right man comes along (as long as they're not cruelly encouraging a man of serious intentions to propose when they have no real romantic interest in him, or rubbing other girls' noses in their greater popularity, that is). If anything, she seems to see beaus as a natural phase of a young, attractive, fun-loving girl's life. She is, rather, making the case that girls ought to have higher ideals than mere popularity and fun, and to lead serious, purposeful lives in which having fun with various boys is merely among "the little things of life". Phillipa Gordon enjoys her swarm of beaus until she finds her Jonas; Rae Gardiner (of the Pat books) does the same until she meets Brooke; Anne's daughter Rilla Blythe is a "vain and gigglesome" girl who cares only about having fun and being pretty and popular until the responsibilities and griefs of World War I changes her into a mature and capable young woman. Neither Philippa nor Rae ever reproach themselves for their past behaviour. Rilla does reflect that her 19-year-old self is a vast improvement over her 15-year-old self, but she does so purely in terms of her personal development, not about her behaviour towards boys.
posted by orange swan at 7:06 PM on September 28, 2019 [6 favorites]

My favorite too, so much clothing porn and who doesn't want to set up housekeeping with their three best friends?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:24 AM on September 29, 2019

The most recent episode of In Our Time discussed The Rapture, and there's some interesting information there about people more curious about Moody and Spurgeon and early evangelical Christianity.
posted by PussKillian at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2019

This is one of my very favorites in the series. I like college. I love the odd obsession with Gog and Magog. I love how Anne realizes that her dream dude is boring. I love how she realizes she loves Gilbert. I really love Philippa and her flippant ways and how she falls crazy in love with a preacher, of all people.

I always felt sorry for Ruby too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:46 PM on September 29, 2019

This is actually the first Anne book I read (I read the second book in the Harry Potter series first, too. I'm odd like that.) The housekeeping parts were so cozy and fun. And I loved how distinctly different each girl seemed and yet so compatible as friends. Harum scarum Philippa for the win, though!
Anne books continue to be a comfort reread, fifteen years and running.
posted by Nieshka at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2019

I love the odd obsession with Gog and Magog.

For those of you who haven't read Montgomery's journals, those china dogs were drawn from real life. When Maud was a child, her favourite thing at her Grandfather Montgomery's house was two green-spotted china dogs that sat on the sitting room mantlepiece. Her father told her the dogs would come to life and jump down and run around every night at the stroke of midnight, and she believed this implicitly for some years, and chafed over not being allowed to stay up until midnight to see it.

When Maud was on her honeymoon tour of Scotland and England many years later, knowing that the Montgomery set of dogs had come from London, she scoured the antique stores of London in hopes of finding another set of those green-spotted dogs. She never found another set just like them, but she did find and buy two sets of china dogs that she loved: a larger set with gold spots, and one small set in white.

You can see photos of both Montgomery's gold-spotted dogs and the very same green-spotted dogs that belonged to her grandfather in the results of an image search for L.M. Montgomery china dogs. I much prefer the gold-spotted dogs myself.
posted by orange swan at 8:26 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

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