If the research is right, a book published today might sell 500 copies. At least that’s an average one often hears bandied about. Female authors are underrepresented in the publishing market. And feminine protagonists are making a splash today as though it had never before occurred to authors (or readers) that girls might actually have brains (or dexterity with a bow and arrow).
But a little over a hundred years ago, a female author—one Lucy Maud “L. M.” Montgomery—wrote a book I’d hardly expect to be revolutionary. In fact, when I used to see the commercials for television’s Road to Avonlea, which took place in the fictional Prince Edward Island community from Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, I immediately dismissed it as a program I’d never watch. I was convinced the show, and the books that preceded it, were similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series: they had entirely too much gingham and not nearly enough relatable story.
As it turns out, Montgomery’s tale, beloved by countless readers, was not only relatable, but indeed revolutionary. For this, I’ll forgive the gingham. Published in 1908, the book sold 19, 000 copies in its first few months and went to print 10 times in the first year. The book would ultimately sell over 50 million copies (take that, average book sales) across the globe—a book published at the turn of the century (a century ago) by a female author with a female protagonist, and without Amazon to provide related products, reader reviews, and expedited shipping.
This children’s classic tells the tale of a young orphan sent to the home of a conservative brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla, who had asked for a boy to help them out with work around the farm. They were initially disappointed at the arrival of a red-headed girl named Anne, who despite her impetuous and passionate ways, eventually wins them over with her generous heart and lively spirit. While Anne at first struggles to find her way in the close-knit community and a family of older caretakers who’ve never raised a child, in the end she wins the respect and admiration of all (even those who are hesitant to admit it). And of course there is the ongoing tussle between Anne and her rival, Gilbert Blythe, to add a surprising (at the time) fire of female independence and intellectual equality.
For longtime lovers of Avonlea and new readers alike, we’ve gathered a collection of ten great Anne of Green Gables quotes. Perhaps you’ll share your favorite with us in the comments.
There are plenty of people in Avonlea and out of it, who can attend closely to their neighbor’s business by dint of neglecting their own; but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks in the bargain. (the Narrator)
It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it? (Anne)
Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination, then, would there? (Anne)
I always say goodnight to the things I love, just as I would to people. (Anne)
Don’t you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back? (Anne)
I have to groan heartrendingly in one of them, and it’s really hard to get up a good artistic groan, Marilla. (Anne)
I don’t believe I’d really want to be a sensible person, because they are so unromantic. (Anne)
I read it to Marilla and she said it was stuff and nonsense. Then I read it to Matthew and he said it was fine. That is the kind of critic I like. (Anne)
… I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them. (Aunt Josephine)