That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I came across this beautiful illustrated reprint of Anne Of Green Gables on a recent trip to one of my favourite shops Igloo Kids in Islington. My eldest daughter is now 6 and has developed a passion for history thanks to studying The Great Fire of London in school last year, the amazing CBBC programme Horrible Histories, and regular visits to the British Museum and London’s Natural History Museum. I knew immediately I wanted to read it to her but wasn’t sure she would enjoy it at her age but sold it in to her as a story about a Canadian girl in Victorian times. I was born and raised in Canada and my daughter is extremely proud of her Canadian/British heritage. When we finished the first chapter she was already hooked and by the second chapter she was in tears over poor Anne’s tragic situation and uncertain fate. What I wasn’t prepared for was the rush of emotions I felt while reading it. Introducing your child to a favourite character from childhood is as close to time travel as you can get. Within minutes I was transported back to the fantasies of my youth about an irresistible and irrepressible young woman who was as smart as she was charming. The language is rich and intoxicating and the themes are wholesome and virtuous. I’ve already seen a subtle shift in my daughters behaviour, specifically a newfound grace when presented with social challenges and a high regard for honesty. I have also noticed how much this novel influenced my own moral code and tastes even now as an adult. Interestingly, both of my children share names with Anne’s haunts around Green Gables. My eldest daughter is called Violet and my youngest is called Wilde. Anne names a patch of meadow Violet Vale in the early chapters of the book and her playhouse amongst the poplars where she and Diana Barry play tea party with Marilla’s broken china is called Idlewild. Coincidence? Perhaps. Or perhaps in those moments when I was imagining my unborn daughters (who were fluttering around in my pregnant belly) the little girl within my soul stepped forward to whisper in my ear the secret yearnings of my youth? I’m just starting to realise that Anne wasn’t right about everything. Those things that you wanted ever so badly in your childhood can turn out even better than you dreamed.