As a little girl, I do not have lots of memories of bedtime stories and being surrounded by books. I had Beatrix Potter books from our dear friend, Mrs. Patrick and a collection of Little Golden Books. I had a set of Children’s Encyclopedias with actual colour pictures of Pinky and The Blue Boy. School provided Janet and John, Lucky the dog, Buttons the cat and a father that went to work and a mother who stayed home. Basically the bulk of my reading had no connection to life as I knew it.
Fortunately the librarians in my life helped me to become a reader. I was introduced to series of chapter books. I fell in love with Trixie Belden and stayed up late into the night with my flashlight terrifying myself with the possibilities. Nancy Drew, Donna Parker, Henry Huggins, Beezus, Ramona and the Hardy Boys also held my attention. However when the librarian in the Marpole Public library introduced me to Anne of Green Gables, I learned what it was to have a kindred spirit and that living with imagination was a good thing. My mother was delighted when I brought the first book home and waited for me to finish reading the book so she could reaquaint herself with Anne with an “e”. In fact I read the series so quickly because my Mom was always in line to read the next book. My mother did not have a lot of spare cash as a single mother, but she always belonged to the Book of the Month Club and frequented the public library. The fact that she wanted to read my books filled with me with a huge sense of pride. She’d make a pot of tea and we’d chat about the book, the characters, the importance of pretty clothes and that people actually die in books and in life.
When my husband was planning our bike trip to Prince Edward Island this summer, my one request was that we do ” The Anne thing”. I bought the book to reread it during the journey. And yes, I did take it for the photo op in the garden amidst all of the flowers that she so adored. YES, I do realize that Anne is a fictional character. Yet, what L.M. Montgomery was able to so aptly do was write about what she knew from losing her mother as a toddler and growing up in P.E.I. with stern grandparents and a doting but far away father. Clearly she was able to take her experience and recreate it in the mind’s eye of a kid growing up in Vancouver and little girls growing up in Japan. The walk down Lover’s Lane and through the Haunted Wood is just what I expected. She was also able to create such a vivid character that could have been real and would be loved and remembered into adulthood. When I woke up to the poplar’s rustling wildly in Mount Stewart at the Water’s Edge B&B, I knew that Matthew would be warning Anne of imminent rain and packed my Arteryx jacket for the day’s journey💧. I can’t wait for the long running musical in Charlottetown!