Revisiting Anne of Green Gables takes me back to the early ’90s, during a critical point in my life. I was 13, and I spent two weeks in the hospital due to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. Shortly after I was discharged, my great aunt Virginia invited my mother and I to stay at her home in the Bronx for a week. I enjoy my New York family visits, so I soaked up this opportunity to bond with my great-aunt and her family. On the day we were leaving, her daughter gifted me with an Anne of Green Gables box set. “Since I know that you love to read, you’ll enjoy this,” she said, smiling as she handed me the eight book set.
…and I immediately became swept up in Anne’s story! She was such a precocious child that everyone loved, warming the hearts of her new family (and truly making a statement across Price Edward Island)! Once I was finished, I wasted no time in reading the other stories in the collection. I enjoyed the tales of Anne’s life as she went through her journey, as well as the lives of her family as the years flew by. Within a week, I finished reading the series.
The feelings I held for this box set was a deep appreciation and gratitude. For a few days, it deflected my attention from a rough period in my life. I held the stories with a special place in my heart.
Years later, when I heard that Netflix was adapting Anne of Green Gables into a series, I was immediately intrigued. Feelings of “I wonder how Anne’s story will be portrayed” and “I can’t wait to see Prince Edward Island!” were accompanied by “I hope the series won’t ruin the story!” Book-to-television (or in this case Netflix) adaptations can either leave out or change important details (I still recall watching L.J. Smith’s The Secret Circle while shaking my head), so I proceeded watching Anne With An E with extreme caution.
Anne With An E begins with Anne Shirley speaking with Mr. Cuthbert at the train station, and I was immediately transported back to my teenage years. It was like reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time once again. Anne Shirley was just as outgoing and verbose as I remembered her! I could tell that I was in for quite an experience as Mr. Cuthbert guided Anne through the beautiful White Way of Delight before reaching Green Gables. It manages to keep Anne Shirley and the residents of Prince Edward Island as wholesome and close to the book as possible. While they do delve into themes, a clear difference in the Netflix adaptation are the topics of neglect (the premiere episode displays Anne’s previous foster placements, which were harshly negative environments), yet it keeps this sensitive content as appropriate as possible.
Watching Anne With An E allowed me to revisit the fun adventures of Anne of Green Gables. I absorbed L.M. Montgomery’s books like a sponge during my high school years. I was in love with Anne Shirley’s life and her adventures with friends and family. Reading Anne of Green Gables allowed me to take a break from worrying about extreme blood sugar highs and lows. For a brief moment, I didn’t need to worry about new doctors and routines. I was just Cathleen, connecting with a precocious character.
Of course, I have a much better handle on my diabetes management now, but reading Anne of Green Gables was truly a touching moment in my life. Anne With An E helped me revisit that period where reading rescued my emotional state. It’s guided my journey into my own personal White Way of Delight, equally cherished and lovely.