by Budge Wilson,
Penguin Canada, 2008
I stumbled across this book, the prequel to L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, and am so glad I did! This year marks the 100th Anniversary since Montgomery's publication of Anne, and Before Green Gables is both a wonderful tribute to the originator, and a marvellous addition to the collection.
Wilson begins the story in Nova Scotia with Anne's loving parents, Bertha and Walter Shirley, and takes us through their deaths into Anne's life with the Thomas family, the Hammonds, and the orphanage, where Mrs. Spencer comes from PEI and chooses Anne for Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. We recognize all the names from Montgomery's Anne books, and meet some new characters along the way. Wilson has clearly done a careful reading of Montgomery's work and captured her voice and Anne's character exceedingly well.
The story is by turns sad, hilarious, and hopeful. The characters are complex and real. I advise you to get out your hanky!
If you loved the Anne you knew before, you will love her even more after reading this book. I plan to purchase my own copy to complete my collection of the series.