The more children's classics I rediscover, the more I realise I never actually read many properly in the first place.
Perhaps it's a sad reflection on reading standards over the last 40 years, but the fact remains; I didn't read Anne of Green Gables as a child.
I thought I did; I certainly knew the story of the imaginative, spirited adopted orphan with red hair; and remembered various foreign and old-fashioned words and phrases from turn-of-the century Canada, like 'manilla envelopes' and 'kindred spirits'.
I remember dreaming that I could have grown up in the idyllically peaceful faraway land of Prince Edward island. I only realised it's a part of Canada, and people actually still live there, as an adult, and today, every time I fly to New York over North America's eastern seaboard, I want to stop off for a visit.
But when I got hold of a copy of the book at 33, I realised what I actually remembered was the Emmy award-winning 80s TV drama. Which is delightful (I'm currently enjoying watching it again as it runs this summer on TrueMovies2.
But the 1908 book is far more challenging - which isn't surprising when you discover that it wasn't intended for children, but has only been seen as a children's book more recently.
It's long - almost 400 pages - and a period piece; about a time long since gone when girls were innocent, dreamy and fanciful, longing in breathless whispers for nothing more than a 'bosom friend', a bowl of ice cream and a Sunday school picnic. And when parents, like stern but soft-hearted Marilla, who takes Anne in, thought children should do their chores and say their prayers.
The language of Anne - all 'fiddlesticks!', brooches and raspberry cordial - reminds me of my granny and her world - L.M. Montgomery's novels were what girls of her generation read.
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in 1874 on Prince Edward Island, and worked as a journalist and teacher before publishing this, her first novel, to great acclaim. It's since sold over 50 million copies.
The sequel, Anne of Avonlea, came out in 1909, and a stream of further novels featuring Anne and her family followed - by Rilla of Ingleside (1921), about Anne's daughter during the First World War, Anne is around 50. The Anne series was followed by the equally intriguing Emily series, but apparently L.M. Montgomery suffered from depression in later life and tragically died unhappily in 1942.
Fortunately, Lucy Maud's work lives on, and is perfect for a cosy rainy evening by the fire - whether you're reading the books, or reliving them on TV.
(True Movies 2 is available on Sky 322 and Freesat 303.
*Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story Part 2: Monday 16th July at 11am
* Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning Part 1: Wednesday 18th July at 11am
* Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning Part 2: Friday 20th July at 11am)
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