“Anne of Green Gables” and Point of View

Yesterday, I finished reading Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was a delightful read (and, yes, it was my first introduction to Anne…I can’t believe I missed out on her perspective all these years), which hit close to home in ways that, at times, made me squirm. Anne reminded me of a combination of my daughter and my red-headed niece, Margot. The dramatic flair, the embellished storytelling. That was fine because she’s a thoroughly likable character, even when she does show her temper because she shows it with such style! It’s as if Life is a performance art and she’s determined to master it.

The part that discomfited me was to see how much in common I had with Marilla, the plain spinster who takes this extraordinary orphan under her wing and, together with her brother, Matthew, determines to raise her well. While I have a good deal more imagination than Marilla, my inclination toward motherhood, I’m afraid, has never been as natural as I would have liked. It was touching and quite a relief, then, to see her soften toward the end. There’s hope for me yet!

As a writer, I couldn’t help noticing the shifts in point of view within scenes or chapters. They weren’t too disconcerting because the story carried me along, but at times I’d be in Anne’s head and then suddenly pulled out into the narrator’s (or 3rd Person POV)…or I’d be in Matthew’s and then Marilla’s, etc. I suppose they weren’t so strict about that kind of thing back in 1908 when the story was written. Even so, the characterization is marvelous and I’m anxious now to read the next in the series, Anne of Avonlea.

This whole experience with shifting POV has got me to thinking again about trying several points of view in my Beirut manuscript. Something along the lines of what Barbara Kingsolver did in The Poisonwood Bible. I’ll admit I’m having a tough time staying in a teenager’s head even though my memories of Lebanon are those of a teenager. Try as I might, I don’t think YA fiction is my genre.

Originally posted 2011-06-27 16:18:46.

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9 thoughts on ““Anne of Green Gables” and Point of View

  1. Sure read that quick!

    I think that’s funny that you see yourself as Marilla in this book. I can also see some similarities:) You both seem to me like people who know who they are and are proud of it:)

    About the point of view, I didn’t mind it so much. There were maybe one or two times when it came up in the back of my mind, but I felt like overall it didn’t inhibit the story for me.

    I’m still anxious to read your book:)

  2. Mom, you are a wonderful mother and I adore you. There are moments where you are like Marilla, but you have gotten to be such a great listener and let me know what it is you are thinking. I would have it no other way. I love you! Good luck with your Beirut manuscript, I’m excited to read it one day!

    • Thanks so much, Allison. I’m still growing. No matter how old you get, there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. In fact, I find that the older I get, the more humbled I become. While my eyesight gets worse, my perspective on me becomes sharper and I see more and more room for improvement.

      In any case, I hope you’re not equating Matthew in the story too much with your father, since he doesn’t seem to last long! (Though it is true that they share the kind of understanding that you and your father have.)

      As for the Beirut story, don’t hold your breath. It’s not coming easily. I feel as if I’m wrestling a tiger to get a proper hold on it.

  3. I’ve read these books since my teens, and as I age, I see different things each time. LMM definitely enjoyed using a more omniscient POV through all her books, but she did it along with the rules of HER day, and it works. My favorite LMM titles: Rilla of Ingleside, The Blue Castle, and the Emily trilogy.

    • Hmm. I’ll have to check out those other titles, Annette. My books are piling up fast on my Kindle!

  4. when you read the first paragraph of Anne of Green Gables,you must fall love with her thoroughly.I am not so lucky with you,when I read the book I was 22 years old.It is too late or may be it just appears in good time.So I love Anne Shirley,and I have some common with Matthew Cuthbert.

    • I think you were luckier than I since I’m in my 50’s and am only now giving them a look.

  5. I can’t believe you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables!! And I love the movie they made of it–it follows the book pretty well! You should read Anne of Avonlea!

    • I know. I can’t believe it took me so long to discover it either. But I’ve read it now and much of the rest of the series, including Anne of Avonlea.

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