Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, published in 1909

Book #2 in the Anne of Green Gables series

Read my review of Book #1, Anne of Green Gables, first.

Anne’s life picks up in Avonlea mostly where we left off. There is a new neighbor, Mr. Harrison, who is a grumpy bachelor with a trash-talkin’ parrot, and the story begins with him yelling at Anne for allowing her cow to escape and tromp around in his pasture. In true Anne fashion, she gets into a pickle, but also befriends Mr. Harrison. Fall comes around, and that means Anne starts her career as the teacher at Avonlea, which is awkward for many reasons: since teachers are so young (Anne is 16), some of the students with whom she studied in the one-room school house are now her pupils. New students tend to be the little siblings of Anne’s former classmates, so they’ve heard loads about her. All in all, Anne of Avonlea is about Anne’s two years as a teacher in her neighborhood and the new friends she makes during that time. The book ends when she is about 18.

Anne of Avonlea

One odd thing I noticed right away was the overuse of the ellipses. I didn’t see it in Anne of Green Gables, but in Anne of Avonlea, the annoying punctuation choice is ubiquitous and changed my reading unnecessarily. Don’t you expect something hesitant or surprising after an ellipsis? Here is an example of those three pesky dots misleading me:

There was not a seldom waking minute of any day when Davy was not in mischief or devising it; but his first notable exploit occurred two days after his arrival, on a Sunday morning . . . a fine, warm day, as hazy and mild as September.

The ellipsis here led me to believe I would get a shocking behavior from Davy. Instead, those dots are used more like a long dash, which could be confusing in many cases. Another weird fact: this book, from the same box-set as Book #1, has the same map and L.M. Montgomery mini-bio in the back.

Yet, Montgomery never fails to make readers laugh, and incorporating a group called the Improvers gives her plenty of funny fodder. Anne and a number of young people, including Gilbert Blythe and Diana Barry, set out to make Avonlea aesthetically pleasing. The young people canvas the area, asking for donations to paint the town hall. The various people Anne and Diana meet give Mongomery room to add one colorful interaction after the other, which gets the novel galloping right away.

It’s the new adult characters that make Anne of Avonlea different from Anne of Green Gables. Mr. Harrison says what’s on his mind just like Mrs. Rachel Lynde, but he doesn’t like Rachel Lynde. He grumbles, “I never was much of a talker till I came to Avonlea and then I had to begin in self-defense or Mrs. Lynde would have said I was dumb and started a subscription to have me taught sign language.” In another scene, Anne is forced to buy a very expensive platter from a woman to replace one she’s broken. The woman is selling her platter because she needs money, as she’s getting married. The woman claims of her fiance, “[Luther Wallace] wanted me twenty years ago. I liked him real well but he was poor then and father packed him off. I s’pose I shouldn’t have let him go so meek but I was timid and frightened of father. Besides, I didn’t know men were so skurse.” These little moments in which Anne converses with new characters lead to funny one-liners that kept me reading hungrily.

There are new children introduced, too, most notably a set of twins who are the children of Marilla’s third cousin who has passed away. They are brought temporarily to live at Green Gables until another relative is able to keep them permanantly. While the girl is perfectly behaved (and thus boring), the boy is always in trouble, but in purposefully mean-spirited ways (unlike a young Anne was; he’s not “new Anne”). There’s also a student who does remind me of Anne: always imagining and making things up so they seem almost real. Although the children filled a lot of space in the book, they seemed less consequential or endearing than the new adult characters. Honestly, I didn’t care much what happened to them. Mostly, the naughty boy was scolded and Anne would point out that he was always improving.

Some passages in Anne of Avonlea are long, slow scenes in which Anne walks and imagines, which feels less endearing now that she’s a teacher and on the cusp of womanhood. It was certainly cute when she was 11 and shored against the ruins of being an orphan. But the slowness made me reconsider my desire to rush. Since I’ve started the Anne books, I’ve been more apt to smell flowers (literally) and look around me and appreciate that things are alive. As a result, my impatience with the leisurely pace subsided. Anne of Avonlea feels a bit different than Anne of Green Gables, but as the title implies, our titular character is filling the space around her and expanding.

Grown up anne
Megan Follows as a more grown-up Anne. You can tell she’s a young woman because her hair is up instead of down!

I commented on Anne’s world being homogeneous and without challenge in my last review. In Anne of Avonlea, there are questions to ponder. Prominently, should teachers hit children. Residents advise Anne on the benefits of a strip over a switch when beating students, but Anne calls the practice barbaric, both to her friends, who are fellow teachers, and to adults, like Mr. Harrison and Marilla. I applauded Anne for her morals and standing up against a practices that in 1909 was expected of good teachers and parents.

Yet, Anne can still be a petty girl. She’s always commenting on whether or not people are beautiful (and the narrator adds her own two cents constantly). Later, when Diana gets engaged, Anne can’t believe it. The engagement is not romantic nor like something from a book, and she’s displeased that Diana would say yes to “just Fred Wright.” Readers know nothing about Fred (we’ve not met him), but Anne makes it clear that he doesn’t fit Diana’s description of her dream man. Montgomery illustrates that Anne is still a girl, even though she is entering the adult society, and can feel left out when her bosom friend grows up without her.

I look forward to reading Book #3, Anne of The Island next to see if Diana gets married, Gilbert ever makes a move on Anne (the narrator tells us about his love, but he doesn’t tell Anne), and how the rest of the Avonlea community fares.



This book was read as part of Cathy 746‘s challenge to read 20 books between June 1st and September 5th.


  1. I’m really enjoying your voyage of discovery, hard to believe you waited so long to read stories which are obviously important to you. Re Anne’s job: my mum was a pupil-teacher in 1950 (in rural Victoria, Australia) while her brother and sister were pupils. And teachers were pretty handy with the strap well into the 60s.

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    • My father-in-law went to a school run by nuns. He was dyslexic, but they didn’t know such things at the time, so they beat his hands with a ruler all the time. So cruel. I don’t believe in hitting anyone, or even threatening to. Anne, at one point, does end up hitting a student, but she doesn’t make the conscious decision to do so, she does it out of a fit of rage. I thought she would have a moment of reflection and learn from the situation, but the student then told her he respected her, everyone praised her, and she went on happily. I thought it was too easy for a writer as talented as L.M. Montgomery.

      My great-grandmother was one of the first women to graduate from Central Michigan Normal school, which is now Central Michigan University, the college I attended in 2003. She had a one-room school house, and when it was too snowy to travel all the way home, she stayed with students’ families. There is a funny story of her accidentally breaking a very expensive boiler and being sure she would be sacked.


  2. I feel like I have so many things to say about this. (I also feel like I want to tell you what happens next, but I will not!).
    Yes, there is so much in this book suggesting that Anne is still just a girl. The vanity thing is huge – it was in Anne of GG too, I think. And to think that Diana is making a mistake because Fred is not her dreamy ideal man. Ha. Anne grapples with this herself in Anne of the Island.
    I agree with you about the children in the book – I didn’t care about them as much as the adults. Paul Irving especially got on my nerves. I got tired of his imaginings and his love for Anne. Are there any kids in real life who have ever talked quite like that, even then? I have my doubts, but you never know…
    And when I was younger, I resented Davy. I felt like he was taking Anne’s place. I don’t feel that way now, though the feeling still lingered.
    I think the best thing about LMM’s books are her colourful characters. When you think about how many there are in all of her books combined, it really is amazing.
    Anne of the Island is one of my favourites, so I can’t to hear what you think of that one. (My other faves are Anne’s House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside.) I love reading these reviews – you’re making me want to read them again, even though it was just a year ago that I re-read them. I think I read Rilla in August last year.

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    • Thanks for writing so much, Naomi! And yes, don’t spoil it! I guess I’m not sure why Davy equates bad with fun. He sounds like he needs something to do, in my opinion, like get a book or help the hired guy or visit some other kids (I’m sure they exist). I agree about Paul; he really is annoying and unrealistic and is mostly a vehicle to get Miss Lavender and her old beau back together. Even Anne’s imagination wasn’t quite as strange as his. She liked to imagine ghosts and re-name things, which is pretty typical. I didn’t feel like he was a replacement for Anne because I remember the second movie in the miniseries in which there’s that incredibly whiny, wimpy girl who’s supposed to love books and poetry like Anne but has none of the strength or courage to make me like her in the least. She wasn’t in this book, so I was happy to settle for Paul! She might come up later, though…*shudder*

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  3. I never read these books as a child – I was too busy reading Sweet Valley High (!) and Nancy Drew. But I read the first one a few years ago and fell in love with it. And yet, I haven’t read any others. I keep meaning to, though. You know how that goes, all voracious readers do. But I *will* read them all one day. Kudos to you for using Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer to read them all!

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    • When I bought them last winter, I planned to save them for this summer, though I don’t know that I would have read that as ambitiously if I hadn’t discovered Cathy’s challenge. I might have accidentally allowed myself to go to a different book if I felt daunted by how MANY books are in the series. According to Goodreads, the 8 book box set has 2,000+ pages! If I knew that but didn’t have the challenge, I might get scared!

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  4. Interesting! Though I love all the Anne books – or at least up to Anne’s House of Dreams – this one never ranked as a favourite precisely because of those annoying children! I wanted more Anne! Though I think she creates lots of wonderful characters and I love the way she describes PEI, I really remember wanting to spend every minute with Anne, and all the rest was just distraction from that. Clearly I had a major crush on her, but it was more than that – I genuinely wanted to be her, and tried to be like her. I am glad I spent so much time with Anne when I was a child, but I totally envy you having the chance to read them for the first time and I’m so glad you’re enjoying them!

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    • As Naomi mentioned, Paul Irving is especially the worst. He’s not even like a real kid. I think what I really missed was MORE interaction with the kids with Anne involved. For instance, why did the children never play together outside during lunch (dinner?) with Anne watching? For as much as Davy knew about Paul being a good boy, why did we never see them together? The children don’t interact and are like weird buoys floating around Anne’s sea.

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  5. Great review! It’s fun to hear what you thought about the books last summer. I think Mr Harrison is so hilarious! And his ridiculous relationship with his wife just makes me laugh.

    I continue to love Anne as a character and agree with your thoughts on her teaching school and having high morals. But I was annoyed at her for holding so hard onto old childhood dreams. Yes, we don’t get much about Fred Wright at all before he proposes to Diana. But I was annoyed that Anne was so decidedly against the idea. And she mostly just drives me crazy with her refusal to see Gilbert as anything but a friend for this book and most of the next (just finished that one last week!!).

    Also, can I just say how much I love Megan Fellows as Anne? I totally see her in my mind as I read the series. 🙂

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    • That movie is hysterical. It’s why I haven’t watched the new Netflix series. I think Anne was disappointed that Diana didn’t have the same academic aspirations that she did, but Diana was someone who grew up with a bunch of siblings who she loved, so she wanted kids. She also says she’s not smart like Anne, so marriage is her only option. She gets replaced by other amazing friends, though!

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  6. I really appreciate this review, Melanie. I feel like you took a critical eye to the novel, similar to how I did, but with a very different perspective. I don’t know how I didn’t even notice the connection between Anne believing that beating her students is barbaric and how progressive Montgomery’s depiction of PEI can be. I really noticed quite a bit of progressive ideals in Anne of Green Gables; it makes me happy seeing this continue, even if it isn’t as prominent.

    I haven’t seen the Megan Follows series, as you know, but the more I read the more I am interested in exploring it! I’ll have to see if it’s at my library. Everyone has such great things to say about how Follows portrays Anne over time; I’m certain intrigued.

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    • The access is something life 22, but had to portray Anne as 12 up to 16 or 17. She’s very good at it! I would just buy a copy on Amazon, as it’s the kind of movie you watch repeatedly.


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