Everyone knows the story of Anne Shirley, the dreamy lovable orphan of Anne of Green Gables fame. But as we meet Anne at eleven years old, we know very little about her childhood; we only see little glimpses of her past–that she had a difficult upbringing, that she was used to caring for children, that she had very few friends. But most of her childhood is a mystery to us–until now.
Budge Wilson’s Before Green Gables tells the story of what Anne’s life was like before she moved to Green Gables, starting before her birth and letting us get to know her parents a little bit. I really liked the descriptions of her parents because although it was easy to see Anne in them, the author handled this lightly, without coming right out and telling us traits Anne got from them. Instead she weaved a bit of the person Anne would become into the way they spoke and acted; her mother’s penchant for long solitary walks, her father’s dark auburn hair, the way her mother’s imagination– usually well regulated–occasionally gets carried away with itself. Before she was born I would sometimes forget about Anne entirely, only to remember her again with these subtle hints to her ties with the parents she would never know.
What I loved most about the book is the fact that it’s so believable. I found myself saying “Oh, so that’s why she’s like that” multiple times during the book without even considering the fact that the prequel was written 100 years after the original work. The style flows seamlessly with L. M. Montgomery’s and sheds light on the origin of different facets of Anne’s character. It heightened my understanding of Anne and gave even more depth to her character. I would recommend this to any fans of Anne who’ve ever wondered what happened Before Green Gables.