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When Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew, decide to adopt a child from a distant orphanage, they don't get quite what they bargained for. The child who awaits them at the tiny Bright River train station is not the strapping young boy they'd imagined--someone to help Matthew work the fields of their small farm--but rather a freckle-faced, redheaded girl named Anne (with an e, if you please). Matthew and Marilla may not be sure about Anne, but Anne takes one look at Prince Edward Island's red clay roads and the Cuthberts' snug white farmhouse with its distinctive green gables and decides that she's home at last. But will she be able to convince Marilla and Matthew to let her stay? Armed with only a battered carpetbag and a boundless imagination, Anne charms her way into the Cuthberts' hearts--and into the hearts of readers as well. She truly is, in the words of Mark Twain, "the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice."
Under the Cover
An excerpt from Anne of Green Gables
Daring was the fashionable amusement among the Avonlea small fry just then. It had begun among the boys, but soon spread to the girls, and all the silly things that were done in Avonlea that summer because the doers thereof were “dared” to do them would fill a book by themselves. . . .
Now, to “walk” board fences requires more skill and steadiness of head and heel than one might suppose who has never tried it. But Josie Pye, if deficient in some qualities that make for popularity, had at least a natural and inborn gift, duly cultivated, for walking board fences. Josie walked the Barry fence with an airy unconcern which seemed to imply that a little thing like that wasn’t worth a “dare.” Reluctant admiration greeted her exploit, for most of the other girls could appreciate it, having suffered many things themselves in their efforts to walk fences. Josie descended from her perch, flushed with victory, and darted a defiant glance at Anne.
Anne tossed her red braids.
“I don’t think it’s such a very wonderful thing to walk a little, low, board fence,” she said. “I knew a girl in Marysville who could walk the ridge-pole of a roof.”
“I don’t believe it,” said Josie flatly. “I don’t believe anybody could walk a ridge-pole. You couldn’t, anyhow.”
“Couldn’t I?” cried Anne rashly.
“Then I dare you to do it,” said Josie defiantly. “I dare you to climb up there and walk the ridge-pole of Mr. Barry’s kitchen roof.”
Anne turned pale, but there was clearly only one thing to be done. She walked towards the house, where a ladder was leaning against the kitchen roof. All the fifth-class girls said, “Oh!” partly in excitement, partly in dismay.
“Don’t you do it, Anne,” entreated Diana. “You’ll fall off and be killed. Never mind Josie Pye. It isn’t fair to dare anybody to do anything so dangerous.”
“I must do it. My honour is at stake,” said Anne solemnly. “I shall walk that ridge-pole, Diana, or perish in the attempt. If I am killed you are to have my pearl bead ring.”
Anne climbed the ladder amid breathless silence, gained the ridge-pole, balanced herself uprightly on that precarious footing, and started to walk along it, dizzily conscious that she was uncomfortably high up in the world and that walking ridge-poles was not a thing in which your imagination helped you out much. Nevertheless, she managed to take several steps before the catastrophe came. Then she swayed, lost her balance, stumbled, staggered and fell, sliding down over the sun-baked roof and crashing off it through the tangle of Virginia creeper beneath — all before the dismayed circle below could give a simultaneous, terrified shriek.
If Anne had tumbled off the roof on the side up which she ascended Diana would probably have fallen heir to the pearl bead ring then and there. Fortunately she fell on the other side, where the roof extended down over the porch so nearly to the ground that a fall therefrom was a much less serious thing.
Nevertheless, when Diana and the other girls had rushed frantically around the house — except Ruby Gillis, who remained as if rooted to the ground and went into hysterics — they found Anne lying all white and limp among the wreck and ruin of the Virginia creeper.
“Anne, are you killed?” shrieked Diana, throwing herself on her knees beside her friend. “Oh, Anne, dear Anne, speak just one word to me and tell me if you’re killed.”
To the immense relief of all the girls, and especially of Josie Pye, who, in spite of lack of imagination, had been seized with horrible visions of a future branded as the girl who was the cause of Anne Shirley’s early and tragic death, Anne sat dizzily up and answered uncertainly:
“No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious.”
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) was born in the village of Clifton (now New London) on Prince Edward Island in Canada. She was brought up by her grandparents after her mother died when she was two. Later her father moved away to Saskatchewan, where he remarried, and when she spent some months in his new home she was not happy. 'I do not think', she wrote, 'that the majority of grownups have any real conception of the tortures sensitive children suffer over any marked difference between themselves and the other denizens of their small world.'
While working as a reporter for the Halifax Daily Echo, she wrote Anne of Green Gables in the evenings over a period of eighteen months and when it was rejected by four publishers she put it away for two years. Then she revised it and a Boston publisher accepted it at once. When it appeared in 1908 the book proved so popular that ever afterwards she felt constrained by the public's constant demand for more stories about Anne. She did write five sequels – as well as many other novels – and they made her rich, but none reached the classic status of the first.
In 1911 she married Ewan Macdonald. She had two sons; she enjoyed fame and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935. She died in Toronto in 1942 and was buried in Cavendish Cemetery, not far from her birthplace.