Dear Anne of Green Gables

Welcome to a brand new series on The Winged Pen!

Here, we write love letters to our favorite books—the ones that shaped us, as writers and as people.

First up is the book that inspired me to start this series: Anne of Green Gables!

In case you haven’t read it, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is the story of an orphan girl who, after being shipped to various abysmal foster homes, lands with an older couple (actually brother and sister) on an idyllic farm on Prince Edward Island.

I am an Anne girl. I get a glow just holding the book (especially the lovely edition from Puffin and Rifle Paper—yum!). My red-haired daughter is named Lucy, after Lucy Maud Montgomery.

There are a few things that made this book so influential to me.

First, Anne is not perfect. She tries really hard to be good, but she loses her temper, she messes things up royally, and she is given to fits of despair. I was a kid who worried all the time about doing the right thing, and seeing Anne’s horrid mistakes and tantrums gave me a gleeful thrill, and permission for my own imperfection. (Imperfection is good! I wrote a whole post on it.)

Second, L.M. Montgomery taught me about writing description. Here is how she describes the road to Anne’s new home, when Anne first sees it:

The “Avenue,” so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.

Isn’t that lovely? Oh, it makes me sigh every time.

Montgomery elevates the scenery of her beloved home while also being so specific that I can picture it. I see it perfectly, and I feel the same awed reaction that Anne experiences in that moment. I strive in my own writing to make descriptions that not just make a place real, but make it magical and inspiring.

Finally, Anne loves with her whole heart. Her joy at her new home is palpable. She takes the time to feel every moment and savor it. She doesn’t dwell on her unhappy background, but she is constantly amazed at her good fortune to end up in a place so enchanting. May we all be so grateful for the good in our lives!

Here’s my favorite quote:

“Dear old world”, she murmured, “you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

In the comments, please share yours!

Kate Hillyer writes middle grade novels in the D.C. area, but is certain she’s going to make it to Prince Edward Island someday. Look for her in long red braids soon. In the meantime, she blogs here and at From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors, and maintains her own book blog at Kid Book List. She’s also a 2017 Cybils judge for poetry and novels in verse. You can find her on Twitter and at 






8 thoughts on “Dear Anne of Green Gables

  1. What a lovely post and a lovely idea! I have never read Anne of Green Gables, but now I’ll have to give it a try.

    I feel as though I have a book that shaped my childhood (Charlotte’s Web) and a book that shaped my adulthood (When You Reach Me). Interestingly enough (to me) they are both books that have fantastical elements to them which, in general, doesn’t really appeal to me otherwise!

    CW has very descriptive and beautiful language; WYRM is rather sparse but pointed and comes in at less that 40,000 words.

    They both make me cry and wonder at the brilliance of the authors.

    So I think that these books have shown me that you can always be surprised at what becomes enjoyable to you and that you can have “opposites” as favorites.



    1. Wow! I love both of those books and had never thought about them in conjunction. I can see what you mean about both being largely contemporary, but with a fantastical element. So interesting! Oh, and I really recommend you give AGG a try. I read it aloud to my Lucy recently, and she loved it, howling with laughter, and often refers to it when we’re doing other things, so I think it holds up well!

  2. I also am an “Anne” girl. “Anne of Green Gables” is my favorite book of all time! My mother gave me the book on my 10th birthday because it was her favorite book. I even named my daughter “Diane” after Diana Barry, Anne’s best friend and a kindred spirit. I love Anne’s enthusiasm! I finally made it to Prince Edward Island this past summer. I must admit that I got teary-eyed when we arrived at the house that inspired Green Gables. I have read all the Anne books as well as others by Lucy Maud Montgomery, but “Anne of Green Gables” holds a special place in my heart.

  3. Hi 🙂

    I’m so glad Sally posted this link on Twitter. I love meeting other Kindred Spirits 💕

    Huge Anne Fan and Maud Fan too. I read Anne when I was 12 and have been hooked ever since.

    I have lived here on PEI all my life and this year have been working at her Paternal Grandfather’s Home… Which is an Inn now. First year open was this year. I am always pinching myself that this can’t be true, of course 😉

    I hope you get to visit my gentle island one day 💕

    Denise of Ingleside, PEI

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