so I don’t sink into any depths of despair. I was glancing at the book reviews in Vi, my quality Swedish monthly magazine, and finding some possibly very worthy books, but it all sounded very despairish, really. Even the bright sunshine failed to stop me feeling low.
And I’d been feeling very happy, even though I’d just finished my latest re-reading of Anne of Green Gables. Anne is a happy book, by my reckoning, despite her desperate beginnings and the death of Matthew, which had my tears running freely, but in a happy sort of way.
For the Anne and hanky brigade there is now another book to cry over. To celebrate the centenary of the original Anne, Canadian writer Budge Wilson was given the job of writing a prequel to L M Montgomery’s series of books.
I’m not a prequel person, and I’d never hankered after any knowledge about what happened before Anne was picked up by Matthew at the station. I was more than satisfied with knowing that Anne went on to have a good life.
The one thing that had stuck in my mind was the ipecac and the croup, and that was before I produced croupy Offspring and started handing the ipecac out myself. So, I’m quite pleased to have read about the background to Anne’s going round saving children’s lives like that.
Budge Wilson’s Before Green Gables feels very much like a biography covering the early years of someone famous. Someone real, I mean. It’s absolutely amazing what Budge was able to do with the little snippets of facts that Anne mentions when she talks about her past. To build a whole book on this and to make it credible, is a real achievement.
Before Green Gables starts with introducing Anne’s parents, Bertha and Walter. Then it’s swiftly on to Anne’s life with the Thomas family. There’s a lot of bad, but there is good too, and maybe both Anne and the reader need this, for Anne to turn out as lovely as she did. After the Thomases it’s the Hammond family with all the twins, and finally the orphanage.
This is not only a story about our old friend Anne, but it’s a piece of (Canadian) history. To read about daily life in those days, and to find out what it was like for the women in particular, is very interesting, as long as I don’t have to live through it myself.
One of my reasons for quickly re-reading Anne again was to see exactly what is “true” and what’s made up. So much in the prequel struck me as things I already knew, except I can’t have. Budge has done a great job, and she has added a new dimension to Green Gables forever.
And it’s a happy book, even though it ought to come with a very large handkerchief. Preferably pink and with flowers.