10 January 2004

Return to P.E.I.

Would you believe I'd never read the Anne books of L.M. Montgomery until I was an adult? It wasn't surprising--as a child I really liked only animal stories. My mom bought me all the classics, and I had a very nice copy of Little Women, for example, but I never got past chapter six until after I was in my teens. It was, as I described it to my mother, when they started all that "icky stuff with Meg and Mr. Brooke." :-)

Anne was also only in hardback when I was a kid. I only got the cheap Whitman hardbacks; we couldn't afford the more pricey ones, which is why I was Trixie Belden-deprived as a youngster. Whitman started issuing Trixie in their cheap editions just about the time I went to work, and I bought all of them, as well as paperbound copies of all those Marguerite Henry horse stories I used to lust over at the library.

I finally made Anne Shirley's acquaintance via Kevin Sullivan's delightful miniseries for the Disney Channel, and promptly went out and bought the entire eight-book set.

Like any books written in the past, they use terms that were familiar at the time that people may no longer understand. Some folks don't like slogging through old-fashioned talk, but I revel in the dated words. But even with enjoying them, sometimes it's hard to figure out what's going on or what a certain comparison means; needless to say I love annotated books. I have an annotated copy of A Christmas Carol and I was delighted when I found out there was a annotated version of Anne.

Well, until I saw the price. It was a small press print and it was released at $35.

I hunted about a couple of years for it at a lower price and was about resigned to paying $29 for a used copy when I ran into a bona-fide miracle: I found a copy in a used bookstore I went into on a whim. It was slightly water-damaged, but 90 percent nice, and delightful to read: now I know what a "Grit" is, and all sorts of other things Avonlea, Canadian, and 19th century. The book also contains a short biography of Maud Montgomery (as she was known) paralleling her life to Anne's, original reviews of the book (Mark Twain was one of Anne's big fans), illustrations from different editions of the book, etc.

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