Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I have reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book I reviewed for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now focusing on writing reviews and articles, and finding interesting book related news, for this blog. Many of the titles that I will be sharing with you will appeal to adults as well as children. I firmly believe that some of the best writing in the world can be found on the pages of books that were written for young people. I invite you adults to explore these books for yourselves; they will, I am sure, delight and surprise you. I hope what you will find here will make your journey into the world of children's literature more enjoyable. Please visit the Through the Looking Glass Facebook page as well for even more bookish posts

Monday, January 17, 2022

Classics Monday - Romanticism, L.M. Montgomery, and Anne of Green Gables


I recently started re-reading the Anne of Green Gables stories and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. I'll be honest with you; I really did not expect to like the stories this much. The style of writing that L.M. Montgomery used in her stories - Romanticisim - is flowery, sentimental, and sometimes a little overly sweet for our modern sensibilities. 
   Romanticism was a literary movement that emphasized individualism and emotion. The Romantic era lasted from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th century, but its effects are still evident throughout modern literature.

L.M. Montgomery
   Romantic works were a reaction to the Age of Enlightenment and the   advancing Industrial Age, a time in which science and rationalization   began to take firmer hold in the public consciousness. Romantic   literature challenged this new wave of ideas by telling stories rooted in   emotion, nature, idealism, and the subjective experiences of common   men and women.
   It’s important to note that romanticism, as a literary movement, is not   the same thing as the literary genre of romance novels. Romanticism   may be an influence on today’s romance novels, but romance novels do   not typically possess all the elements central to Romantic-era literature. Also, the term Romantic does not refer directly to romantic love. It comes from the medieval French romaunt, the term for an epic, chivalrous quest told in verse.
   What I like about the Anne books is that, unlike many other authors of that time, the female characters in these stories are not idealized; they are not presented as "innocent, naïve bundles of perfection that needed sheltering and, in some cases, outright worship." They are flawed, and funny, and kind, and rude, and sometimes even downright annoying. 
      If you have a love of words, and an interest in stories that grow and evolve with the characters, then the Anne of Green Gables books will suit you. They are entertaining, and they are gently funny because Anne herself is an amusing and delightful character. 

Anne of Green Gables
Ages 10 and up
Random House, 1982 , 978-0553213133
To the amazement of the good people of Avonlea, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a brother and sister who never married, have decided that they are going to adopt an orphan boy; Matthew is no longer as young as he used to be and he could do with a little help around the farm. The thing of it is, when Matthew goes to get the boy from the train station he discovers that some kind of mix-up has taken place, and there is a girl waiting for him at the station and not a boy. She's not just any girl either. This girl has flaming red hair, she never seems to stop talking, and what she says can be very peculiar and very funny.
   Though Anne Shirley has had very little education, she has somehow picked up a lot of ideas, and she is a bottomless well of questions. Matthew, who normally is rather afraid of little girls, is quite bewitched by the strange and fanciful child. At first Marilla is convinced that Anne should be returned to the orphan asylum as soon as is possible, but Anne, in just a few days, grows on her too. Matthew is convinced that Anne should stay, and before Marilla quite knows what is what, Anne is settled into one of the gable bedrooms in the Cuthbert house.
   Marilla with her sharp tongue and old-fashioned ideas, and Matthew with his gentle, quiet and generous ways, soon find themselves severely tried by the “scrapes” that Anne gets into. No matter how hard she tries, Anne still manages to ‘find’ trouble.
   There is the time when Anne gets her best friend Diana quite drunk by accident. On another occasion Anne puts some very unexpected flavoring in a cake; she mistakes a bottle of iodine for a bottle of vanilla and the result is too dreadful to eat. One day Anne plays the part of a poetical heroine only to discover that the boat in which she is sitting is sinking.
   When she is not getting into trouble, Anne is coming up with all sorts of ideas, the more “romantic” they are the better. Anne’s biggest asset, perhaps, is that she has an “imagination.” Of course this gift gets her into scrapes sometimes, but it also makes her life endlessly amusing and interesting, and others find themselves gravitating towards her, wanting to hear her funny sayings, her stories, and her imaginings.
   In what seems like no time at all, Anne is a very much loved member of the Avonlea community. There is no doubt that Marilla thinks the world of her, though she would never admit as such. Anne is a little bundle of sunny energy who gets many of the people around her thinking and doing things that are quite out of the ordinary.
   Though this book was originally written at the turn of the century, and though the writing style and some of the ideas and sentiments expressed in the book are somewhat old-fashioned, there is no doubt that the irrepressible little redhead who decries “woe,” and similar dramatic phrases, is timeless in her appeal. Anne Shirley is funny, loveable, and at times she sets her world on its head with her antics. What she also does is to give her love and affection freely, and she is generous and well-meaning. The little girl who never had a real family and who was starved for love finally, now has a home of her own, and we delight in her good fortune. We also enjoy sharing her various adventures,  seeing her triumphs, and laughing out loud at some of her more outrageous mistakes. With grace and obvious affection, L.M. Montgomery shares her Prince Edward Island world with us, and shows us that good things can still happen to good people.

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