This is a book well deserving of a glowing review. Since I have never written a book review before, and am taking it upon myself now to write one, I shall do my utmost best on this one.
A few days ago I finished reading "Before Green Gables". This is a prequel, authored by Budge Wilson, to "Anne of Green Gables". This is not the same woman that penned the first books, L.M. (Lucy Maude) Montgomery. But that does not detract from the quality of the story at all. Ms. Budge writes in the same manner as Ms. Montgomery did, keeping up with the characters and setting extremely well, and giving you a wonderful introduction to Anne's personality.
I won't bother to introduce you to Anne (with an e), herself, as most people are familiar enough with her already, either through the original books or the movies. I will tell you that this is the first book I've ever read about Anne. I have watched some of the movies with my daughter, but never picked up the books. I know, gasp!!, since I'm such a book lover. Lulu, after cleaning out her closet and coming across the book, told me, "Mom, this is the best book. You have to read it!" So, I did.
The story starts out by introducing you to Walter and Bertha Shirley-Anne's parents. They have a loving marriage and a great respect for each other. They are both schoolteachers and well-liked in the community. Having schoolteachers for parents plays a great role in Anne's future years.
Not far into the book, chapter 7 to be exact, Anne is born. We are told she is skinny, long, and pinched-looking, with a headful of bright red curls. She is screeching, but has a very wise look about her. She has a voracious appetite and grows quickly. But her mother never does gain her strength back after the birth.
When Anne is three months old her mother and her father pass away within days of each other, from "the fever". Thus begins Anne's journey as a red-headed orphan girl whom no one wants.
She is taken in, raised by a neighbor and at the tender age of five has to start earning her keep. Over the course of the next few years, she takes care of the children, cooks, cleans, washes diapers for four little ones and contends with less than desirable living conditions.
Just as most little girls do, she longs for a doll, a cat of her own, a friend and the chance to attend school. She's able to make do with an imaginary friend, and does receive a cat. But her one true passion is to attend school. This is truly what makes her "happiest in all the world." She is allowed to attend school off and on, but only if she walks the mile there and back.
After tragedy strikes this family, she is sent off to live with another family. Once again, she proves a hard worker, watching after six children, cooking, cleaning, washing, even fetching 13 buckets of water each night before bed, so that she may attend school. This school is two miles each way, so she can only go during good weather.
Another family tragedy follows and this time there is no one to take her in. She is driven to an orphanage where she stays for four months. A lady comes one day to fetch two girls, "A pretty one about five and an able one about eleven." The orphan director chooses Anne as the able one.
The book leaves off as Anne is disembarking the train to wait for the adoptive couple. The ending of the story allowed me a very smooth transition into reading the first "Anne of Green Gables", which I immediately picked up. There was nothing noticeable about the fact that this was written by a different author.
Throughout this book, you get to enjoy Anne's vibrant imagination, her eloquent speech and her pert manners. Reference is always made to the fact that she is not an attractive child, but there is something in her eyes and her countenance that makes her enjoyable. And as a positive, she is also extremely bright, with an incredible thirst for knowledge!
I am thoroughly hooked on Anne and will probably finish the rest of the series rather quickly. She reminds me somewhat of my daughter, who also has a great imagination, loves to read and is a constant talker. The book is very engaging and hard to put down. I highly recommend it. You can purchase the book here if interested.
I hope you've enjoyed my review!