Plot summary (with spoilers): Anne of the Island continues the tale of high-spirited orphan Anne Shirley and her friends from Avonlea. This time, most of the gang are college-bound, as Anne, Gilbert Blythe, Charlie Sloane, Priscilla Grant, and Stella Maynard all head off to pursue Bachelor’s degrees at Redmond College in Nova Scotia. While there, the girls meet Phillipa Gordon, a beautiful young woman who happens to be from Bolingbroke, which is of course Anne’s birthplace. They soon accept Phillipa into their clique, and all of them move into a quaint cottage known as Patty’s Place, where they entertain friends, study, and generally enjoy the carefree life of undergrads.
The only thorn in Anne’s side during these otherwise blissful years is Gilbert Blythe. Just as Anne was starting to appreciate his friendship, she got the feeling that he was beginning to fall in love with her. That was the last thing she wanted, so she tried to pull back in the hopes that Gilbert wouldn’t confess his feelings out loud. But alas, that didn’t work. Gilbert asks for Anne’s hand in marriage, and she has no choice to refuse him because he doesn’t quite measure up to the highly romanticized vision of love that Anne has carried around since her girlhood.
After this refusal, Gilbert and Anne drift apart. Gilbert is soon seen escorting another young woman around town, and the Redmond rumor mill springs to work, insisting that Gilbert and the other girl are a serious couple. This causes Anne to feel jealous, but she’s soon able to salve her feelings a bit with the company of Royal Gardner, a dashing Redmond man who fits Anne’s romantic vision to a T.
The rest of the novel then follows these basic storylines to the end. Anne and her friends earn their degrees and emerge from Redmond as graduates, Anne realizes she doesn’t really love Royal in the way she thought she did, and the rumors about Gilbert and the other girl are finally cleared up. Along the way, life goes on in Avonlea as well, with a few of the older residents and Anne’s former classmate Ruby Gillis dying from various illnesses, with Diana Barry and Jane Andrews getting married, and with twins Davy and Dora Keith growing up. By the end, Anne comes to understand that she really does love Gilbert more than anything or anyone, and they become engaged.
- I read a lot of crime/thriller/suspense/mystery books, so it was nice to get into something simpler for a change. I guess there’s a limit to the amount of blood, gore, and serial killers I can take in my free time!
- The Anne of Green Gables series reminds me of the Little House books. They’re about a simpler time when life wasn’t as complex as today. Sure the college students had the same problems about love, nice clothes, and trying to find a good natural acne treatment that modern kids have, but at least they didn’t have to worry about stuff being posted on FaceBook or whatever!
- It’s fun seeing Anne grow up and become more mature, all while retaining at least some of the spunk that made her such a memorable child. She’s a great character!
- I’ve made this complaint before about the series, so I think this is just Montgomery’s writing style and something I’ll have to get used to: Many of the chapters seemed like separate anecdotes instead of part of a whole, connected narrative. Admittedly, it wasn’t as bad in this novel as in the first two entries in the series, but it’s still a bit off-putting.
Anne of the Island by Lucy Maude Montgomery is definitely a step down as far as the previous novels in the series are concerned, but is still a decent read. It was a nice change of pace from the stuff I usually busy myself with: easygoing, simple characters with simple problems. I recommend it to any fan of the series and give it 3 stars out 5.