Anne, a young orphan from Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, finds herself on Prince Edward Island after a childhood spent in strangers' homes and orphanages. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, siblings in their fifties who live together at Green Gables, their Avonlea farmhouse on Prince Edward Island, decide to adopt a boy from the orphan asylum in Nova Scotia to help Matthew run their farm.Through a misunderstanding, the orphanage sends Anne Shirley.
Anne is bright and quick, eager to please and talkative, and extremely imaginative. She does not see herself as beautiful, but is interesting-looking, with a pale countenance dotted with freckles, and long braids of red hair. When asked her name, Anne asks Marilla to call her Cordelia, which Marilla refuses; Anne then insists that if youare to call her Anne, it must be spelled with an e, as that spelling is "so much more distinguished." Marilla insists that the girl will have to go back to the orphanage, but after a few days, she decides that Anne may stay.
Being a child of imagination, Anne takes much joy in life, and adapts quickly, thriving in the close-knit farming village. She is something of a chatterbox, which initiallydrives the prim, duty-driven Marilla to distraction, although shy Matthew falls for her immediately; they are what Anne calls 'kindred spirits'.
The rest of the book recounts Anne's adventures in the country school, where she quickly excels in her studies; her friendship with Diana Barry (her best or "bosom friend" as Anne fondly calls her); her budding literary ambitions; and her rivalry withclassmate Gilbert Blythe, who on her first day in school teased her about her red hair and for that earned her instant, ongoing hatred, although he apologizes many times. Anne and Gilbert compete in class and Anne one day realizes she no longer hates Gilbert, but cannot bring herself to admit it; at the end of the book, they finally become friends.
The book also follows Anne's misadventures inquiet, old-fashioned Avonlea. These episodes include imaginative play time with her friends (Diana, Jane Andrews and Ruby Gillis), her run-ins with the unpleasant Pye sisters (Gertie and Josie), and domestic mishaps such as dyeing her hair green (intending to dye it black) or accidentally getting Diana drunk (by giving her what she thinks is raspberry cordial but is in fact currant wine).
At sixteen,Anne goes to Queen's Academy to earn a teaching license, along with Gilbert, Ruby, Josie, Jane and several other students. She obtains her license in one year instead of the usual two and also wins the Avery Scholarship for the top student in English, which would allow her to pursue a B.A. at Redmond College on the mainland in Nova Scotia.
Near the end of the book, Matthew dies of a heart attackafter learning that all of his and Marilla's money has been lost in a bank failure. Anne, out of devotion to Marilla and Green Gables, gives up the Avery Scholarship to stay at home and help Marilla, whose eyesight is diminishing. She plans to teach at the Carmody school, the nearest school available, and return to Green Gables on weekends. In an act of friendship, Gilbert Blythe gives up histeaching position at the Avonlea school to work at White Sands School instead, thus enabling Anne to teach in Avonlea and stay at Green Gables all through the week. After this kind act, Anne and Gilbert's friendship is cemented, and Anne contentedly looks forward to the next "bend in the road."
Anne Shirley - An imaginative, talkative, red-headed orphan who comes to live withMatthew and Marilla Cuthbert, unmarried siblings.
Marilla Cuthbert - An austere woman who tries in vain to subdue Anne's imaginative, unusual ways. Though she is rigidly conservative in her rules, she does love Anne and has the glimmerings of a sense of humor and a hidden soft side.
Matthew Cuthbert - Marilla's brother, a shy, awkward man who takes a liking to Anne from the start. The two become...
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