Hello, everyone! First, I'd like to thank the lovely Miss Schuyler for inviting me to guest post on My Lady Bibliophile. I hope this post will be as interesting and edifying for you as her posts have been for me!
I begin with a quote from an author whom I've come to admire, Neil Gaiman:
There are authors with whom one has a personal relationship and authors with whom one does not. There are the ones who change your life and the ones who don’t. That’s just the way of it.
Today, I'd like to talk about one of those life-changing authors and how her book, which I first read nearly ten years ago, has continued to influence me even to this day.
When I was about eleven years old, my grandmother gave me a copy of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables for Christmas. After reading a few of the other books I had received that year (I'm a bit of a nerd ;-)), I finally started on Green Gables, but with something of a skeptical eye. History had been my main passion for as long as I could remember, and I found it hard to believe that imagined stories could be anything other than entertainment for me. I didn't think fiction could impact me as deeply as the stories of those who had actually lived.
I would like to take this opportunity now to eat my words publicly.
I suppose what drew me into Anne of Green Gables in the first place was how similar the heroine was to me. She was curious and I was curious. She was forgetful and absent-minded and I am the same. She loved to read and so did I. I was sure I could get on with this character.
But what kept me interested in Green Gables long after finishing the book was how different Anne was from me. Upon first reading the book, Anne seemed downright weird. She liked trees, for one thing. For another, she would go into raptures over wildflowers. She believed that stories and imagination are worth pursuing for their own sakes, and to top it off, she had an unmistakable affinity for poetry.
None of this could be said about preteen me, to whom nature was a backdrop for things that mattered, imagination was fun, but in a guilty sort of way, and poetry was alien. I wasn't a stone-cold realist like Marilla Cuthbert: rather, I had just never learned to look at things the way Anne does. By the sheer exuberance this character showed for the world around her and her imaginary world, she made me wonder if I had been missing out on something grand all this time. I started to think, Maybe nature is more important than I once supposed. Maybe it's not just the here-and-now that matters: maybe make-believe can be a help too. Maybe there is something to poetry and stories after all.
I started wondering. And then I started seeing, thinking, and reading.
The rest is history.
First, Anne of Green Gables helped me to appreciate nature for what it is: a meaningful expression of God's providence, his character, and his creative power. It's not something to be overlooked: it should be wondered at, as Anne does, because it is art on the grandest scale imaginable, and by the greatest artist who ever lived.
As those of you who have read the book might remember, Anne of Green Gables is awash with references to literature and poetry. Just as the example of Anne's enthusiasm for nature sparked my interest, her devotion to poetry and story started me thinking of how these things work in people. Without Anne, I might not have discovered just how meaningful and powerful literature really is. And without that, I would be missing one of the great loves of my life. :-)
~It was not just the character who left a mark on me, but her creator as well. Whether it was through the characters that I loved so much or through her distinctive writing voice, L. M. Montgomery was the first author to make me take notice of her writing itself. It seemed as if it must be fun to be able to write like that, to command words in a way that was beautiful, but also seemed nearly effortless. I think it's safe to say that Anne of Green Gables gave me my first ideas of being a writer.
Or, I thought, if I couldn't create things as wonderful as this, I could at least let others know that such things already existed. I felt that, since L. M. Montgomery has long been dead, the only way I could repay my debt to her was by spreading the word about her. The same, I found, could apply to all of the other authors whom I loved and who had shaped me in profound ways. So I suppose L. M. Montgomery is one of the reasons why I blog and write book reviews as well.
I have read many books by many different authors since I was eleven, but of very few can I say that they changed me in so many ways. Anne of Green Gables happens to be one of those books and L. M. Montgomery is one of those very special authors whom I found just when I needed her. If you haven't already read this delightful book, I recommend you do so and soon. Let me know in the comments if you plan to read this book or, if you've read it already, tell me what you think of it!
Hanna is a reader, writer, amateur critic, and classic film enthusiast living just outside New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a creature of odd passions, chief among them being history, language, violin music, and the works of Ray Bradbury. She blogs on literature and other such topics at Book Geeks Anonymous.