Anne of Avonlea covers the period from when, if my memory serves me correctly, Anne is 16 and 17 years old. I am doing a series reread of Anne of Green Gables this year, with some friends, so here are my general thoughts on Anne of Avonlea, which I finished in April.
I enjoyed Anne’s exploits as a teacher in her old school, and the collision of youthful idealism and Anthony Pye. For those of you who haven’t read the Anne series, Anne begins teaching students at the school she attended, and finished, right before she went off to Queens College. Imagine, going from peer to teacher so quickly! Anne struggles for the respect and love of the students, and one of the students – the incorrigible Anthony Pye – nearly defeats her. She begins school swearing, with all of the charming youthful idealism in the world, that she would never strike one of her students. At which point, Anthony Pye literally drives her to distraction, until the day that she loses her temper and smacks his hand with a ruler. She is distraught, but he is chastened. Regardless of how one feels about corporal punishment (and I am generally opposed to it), this is an object lesson for Anne – it is important to be respected by your students.
This particular installment of Anne has one of my favorite Anneish quotes:
“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
I think that this is really one of things that I love the most about this series. None of the characters do anything particularly splendid or wonderful or exciting. There is no murder, no drama, no great men (or women) or great acts being described. Nonetheless, LMM manages to show the inherent and natural grace and nobility of people who live their lives well and with respect for their neighbors.
I also love that Anne finally forgives Gilbert for his bad behavior on the day of that they first met. She very nearly leaves it too long!