Nearly always, imagination comes first for Anne: before social expectations, before conventional romantic customs, and even before her gender’s storied instinct to please and reassure. Because she is starved for human love, her primary attachment is to the natural world. As she approaches Green Gables for the first time with Matthew, she excitedly renames the landscape around her, dubbing a neighbor’s pond “The Lake of Shining Waters” and transforming a prosaic “avenue” into “The White Way of Delight.” In doing so, she reclaims the great, definitive Adamic prerogative: to name the world.
My daughter, a very early reader, was in kindergarten when she first read the book. I remember her sobbing as she finished the first chapter. “They’re going to send Anne back to the orphanage,” she said. “It’s not fair!” I told her to keep reading. She kept crying. “It’s not fair!” she said.
Finally, I said, “What’s the name of the girl?”
“What’s the name of the farm?”
“What’s the name of the book?”
“Anne of Green Gables.”
“Do you think the whole book would be named ‘Anne of Green Gables’ if they sent her away in the second chapter?”
Allison stopped crying. She picked up the book and started reading the second chapter. By the time dinner was ready, Anne had won her place at Green Gables. Allison went on to read every book in the series; I think she read every book that Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote, and Montgomery was a prolific writer. (She wrote to support her family.) In addition to the Anne books, Allison recommends The Blue Castle and Jane of Lantern Hill.