I've been a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables since I was 11 years old. I am most familiar with the Kevin Sullivan movies that aired on PBS, Anne of Green Gables and its sequel. I read the books when I was young and made a pilgrimage to the real Green Gables nearly 12 years ago with a friend and fellow "Anne fanatic".
I got the bug to re-read the series last week and plowed through the first book Anne of Green Gables in a few sittings. It's one of those books that has multiple levels; there's something for young people and something for adults. When I was young I loved Anne and her world of imagination, because I had my own little world, but reading it now I have a deeper love and appreciation of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.
In case you don't know Anne's story, here's the background:
The story is set in the late 1800's on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Anne was orphaned as an infant and taken in by neighbors who did little to educate her to proper behavior or God, but she has a very good heart. She was passed on to another family and made to take care of the children when she herself was a child. The husband was a violent alcohol who would smash windows when in a rage. Finally, she lands in an orphanage where she is adopted by Marilla Cuthbert, a spinster, and Matthew, her painfully shy brother who never married. However, when Anne arrives at Green Gables there is a great surprise because the Cuthberts were expecting a little boy, not a girl. Interestingly, after learning a little of her background the Cuthberts do not send her back, as Matthew says, "Maybe we could be of some use to her."
The things that stood out as I read the story this time was sacrificial love and Christian responsibility. There was no reason for the Cuthberts to keep Anne - she wasn't a boy and God only knows the kind of upbringing she had, but they kept her because they saw a young girl who needed them.
Anne's world produces nostalgia for a simpler time, which is not possible to attain. On a deeper level, though, it stirs a desire to be as loving and willing to face sacrifice, regardless of the cost, as the Cuthberts and that is possible to imitate.