Anne of the Island was the May read for my year long series re-read. I was joking with a friend that this installment of Anne is the age group generally covered by the so-called category of New Adult, or NA.
I have had generally terrible luck with NA books. I’ve read several of them, and pretty much hated them all. Just by way of a partial list: Beautiful Disaster (I hated both Abby and Travis), The Edge of Never (which put me on the edge of never reading another book shelved NA), Callum and Harper (Oh, dear God in heaven, the writing. The writing in this book was so horrible, I shudder when I think back on the experience of reading it), One Week Girlfriend (which should be sub-titled one half of a book because it ends about halfway through the actual story), Hopeless (I know that a lot of people loved this book. I didn’t).
There were a few that I liked that aren’t actually shelved NA, but which are the right age category: In the Shadow of Blackbirds (historical fiction set during the Spanish influenza epidemic) and Out of the Easy (1950’s New Orleans), and Easy, which is the only classic NA title I’ve actually liked.
But, back to Anne of the Island.
This is among my favorite of the Anne books. Anne has left childhood behind for Redmond College, where she is an undergraduate. She spends three years at Redmond College, where she does all of the usual collegiate things, with an Anneish twist. She arrives at Redmond, with her friend Priscilla from Queens beginning her first year as well, and the two girls quickly befriend Philippa. Lifelong college friendships are made, and romances are had. Anne becomes quite popular with the Redmond men, although true love eludes her. She remains stubbornly friends with Gilbert, and Gilbert, as far as she can tell, has given up on romancing Anne. She takes up with a young man who represents her ideal in every way – Royal Gardner. He is darkly handsome, poetic, and stormily romantic. He also bores her nearly to tears, but it takes her a long while to realize that sometimes when you get what you think you want, it turns out that you are wrong.
My favorite chapters take place in Patty’s Place, the little cottage rented by Anne, Priscilla & Phil in a stroke of luck, when Anne charms the owners who are embarking on an around the world trip into renting to three college girls and a maiden aunt. This entire incident could only happen to Anne Shirley, with her knack of finding kindred spirits everywhere.
This book is old – I get that. I am also old – I went to college from 1984 through 1989. But LMM manages to capture universal experiences none the less. Those first years of adulthood and exploration, figuring out who you are and what you want and what kind of man you could love (in Anne’s case, of course, it’s Gilbert Blythe, which everyone BUT her figures out when they are both about 12 years old) and what kind of life you want. Anne’s options are somewhat limited by her time – she is destined to be a wife and mother because that is what women of the time did, but it is up to her to be the wife and the mother that she wants to be and to find her own way in a world that gives her so many different, and delightful, choices.
Anyway, as I said at the start of this post, this is one of my favorite of the Anne series. I absolutely love it.