Last week on library day when I was walking through the new fiction section, a book with a yellow cover and a photo of the back of a young girl with two long red braids caught my eye. "Hmmm," I thought, "Before Green Gables? I wonder if it is dreadful?" I'm such an optimist about these things, obviously.
As most of the women I know do, I love Anne though and have read and reread all the books about her many times over. (As an odd aside, although I own several L.M. Montgomery books -- practically everything else including tons of short stories -- I've never owned any of the Anne books.) The author of this book, Budge Wilson, though I had never heard of her, seemed to be a writer in her own right, which made me wonder, "Would she stick to the story Montgomery hints at in Anne's past or would she try for something different?"
Obviously I had to check out the book. I got home and started reading. Despite my original skepticism, I think the author nailed this. It's a darker book in many ways than the Montgomery books, but then the story of Anne's early life has always hinted at being rather dark with death, "intoxicated husbands" and the drudgery of a great deal of hard work with women who never really wanted her.
In the midst of the difficulties, a reader learns about Anne "meeting" Katie Maurice, kindred spirits who befriend her, and how a young orphan girl with little schooling knows so many big words and bits of poetry before she gets to Prince Edward Island.
The trip through Anne's early years is well done, well researched both historically and in reference to the original books. The author has her own voice, but also stayed true to Anne and L.M. Montgomery. Anne's indomitable spirit shines and I feel a great need to read the rest of the original books again. I think I know what I'll be checking out on the next library day.