Anne With an E – A Richer Flavor of Avonlea

Who doesn’t love Anne of Green Gables? For most kindred spirits, that’s like asking who doesn’t love raspberry cordial.  Well, I binge-watched the new version titled, “Anne with an E” on Netflix this weekend and my biggest problem with it was that there was just not enough of it.

As a loyal fan of L.M. Montgomery books, who still has an entire shelf in my library designated for them, I believe “Anne of Green Gables,” like any great work from the Bible to Sherlock Holmes—is always worth reinterpretation. That’s why the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland (just a stone’s throw from where I live) is so popular. People want to hear these stories retold in different settings and time periods because they learn something new. In the case of “Anne with an E,” it’s the same setting and time period, but with new emotional shades. This Anne is more vulnerable and with that vulnerability comes even more to love. She is not some flutterbudget just spouting off eccentric words to impress people, but a child who is lost inside and using her imagination to survive.

It’s these darker shadows of Anne’s past that bother some viewers, but maybe they just like vanilla ice cream. Vanilla ice cream is great for what it is, but when you add the darkness of chocolate into the mix, you get tantalizing options of multiple flavors hitting your tastebuds like Rocky Road, Moose Tracks or Boudreaux Cherry. To me, that’s what “Anne with an E” tastes like. And just because you like one flavor, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the others.

I have to be honest, I loved the Megan Follows version of Anne. That series is among my favorite shows of all time—right up there with Lark Rise to Candleford, but the truth is most of these darker elements were there all along both in the books and even in the eighties version of Anne. Even diehard fans will have to agree the whispers of Anne’s insecurity and eccentric behavior could point to her past abuse. They include Anne talking to her friend Katy in the mirror (this Anne uses the window of the grandfather clock), the stories of her old adoptive family where she was treated like a slave and the mother burned her book because she was late, only in this newer version Anne is beaten. This newer version uses more backstory to reveal what Anne went through while she was an orphan living at an orphanage and acting as a slave for a woman who had three sets of twins.

Maybe one reason I find this Anne with an E, so compelling is because when I was younger, I felt like that eighties version of Anne–all I wanted was for everything to be beautiful, romantic and pristine like, “The Great White Way.” I certainly didn’t want to think of Anne as having gone through hard times. Now, as an aware Enneagram Seven personality,  I realize I have chosen to ignore my own abuse for years because it was too painful to think about. And when I did think about it, I would have to not only feel bad for myself and my siblings, but feel bad for my parents too. That was just too much pain to deal with–so at the time, I said “No, Thank you” to introspection. It was much easier to stuff that pain down with food and other forms of escapism. So I stumbled through life making lots of mistakes because I couldn’t face my own past.

Even though I wasn’t an orphan, when I watch this Anne deal with her childhood PTSD, I know exactly what she is dealing with in some scenes. It thrills me that Anne can teach people who had a happy childhood what it’s like to deal with PTSD. There are actually people who discount PTSD and say it’s made up, but I can reassure you that any child who has been beaten with a belt never forgets it and it lives on for decades in your body even when your mind ignores it. And any child who was treated like a slave to do housework and not allowed to go to school realizes the value of having a book and an opportunity for education. These are things I share in common with Anne, a fictional character who I have always felt a deep connection to as a kindred spirit.

The town of Avonlea is just as charming, but there are imperfect people who carry their own prejudices and snobbery and jealousy. This is not a gothic version of Avonlea as I saw some critic call it, but it’s more like a microcosm of a real life town where people have struggles and prejudices which they need to set aside so they can learn to get along. Anne has her own prejudices and learns a few lessons while Marilla’s enduring friendship with Rachel Lynde is a prime example of compassion and loyalty despite different life circumstances and views of politics.

Anne is not the only one who was abused or had limited choices in life. In “Anne with an E,” there are other children with struggles not that different from her own. Matthew and Marilla both unrequited romances just as they did in the books, but with a little back story embellishment, we are reminded they too, were either orphans or slaves to the farm long after their parents and brother died. Which brings up the question for each of us about why we make the choices we do in life and the commitments we respect. Matthew and Marilla and Anne show us that in the end, love is always worth it—that not all love is romantic, but love can remain true and faithful despite the hard times.

If you’re an Adult Child of a Narcissist, or an orphan, or foster child or an outcast that was enslaved or abused in any way, you will probably find “Anne with an E” a little more realistic and palatable than the more saccharine versions of Anne. Here, even with the bitter, we find the sweet and this trip to Avonlea is another delicious treat.

7 Replies to “Anne With an E – A Richer Flavor of Avonlea”

  1. thanks for that Cherilyn!! wonderful movie…i live an hour from Cavendish i Prince Edward Island…If you ever come this way you have a place to stay and will show you all the Anne sites🤗🇨🇦

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  2. Thank you Marti!
    I would love to visit PEI again! My husband took me there for my birthday a few years ago. We were living in CT at the time and took a long weekend to tour the Maritimes. Loved all of them. I especially loved the Fortress of Louisbourg too and just enjoyed the beauty of all the provinces out there. I grew up on an island in the San Juan Islands and spent a lot of my time in Western Canada so I loved seeing the other side of the continent. Thank for the invite and if I get that way, I will let you know!

    Peace and freedom to you! ❤

    Cherilyn

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  3. I just found these blogs today by searching something like “I’m scared of the second coming” on Google. I was scared of it because I heard this guy on YouTube saying how we need to ask for forgiveness everyday because “Jesus is coming soon” and this scares me. He said that he was coming to hurt people who were untrustworthy to him. He said that God is judging us RIGHT NOW because he needs to know he belongs in heaven. Today in class (I’m 11/5th Grade) I was staring out the window expecting these angels to start flying across the sky “warning people” of Jesus coming. It gave me anxiety. I am so great full that I found these blogs and read about how the bible is misunderstood. I now have shifted my mind back to the way it was before. I’m now aware that Jesus just wants to come back so that we can hang out with him for eternity. Every thing happening in the world hasn’t been helping my anxiety either.

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  4. Hi Angela,
    You will love the books! Buy them and read them to your daughter! It is a wonderful set of characters in a charming town and sharing it with her will be an wonderful experience and memory for her!

    Cherilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Elise,

    How precious you are to Jesus! He sees your anxiety and longs to comfort you like he did the kids he met while he walked on earth. Children loved him and ran to him. He was always telling them stories to teach them in a way they could understand. As long as you have love in your heart for all people and try to walk like Jesus taught us you have nothing to fear.

    Those angels that will fly through the sky are not literal angels (REvelation is a bunch of word pictures to show an idea) but messages to warn people to make their choices to follow Jesus and stop loving the things of this world.

    Remember this verse:

    “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
    -1 John 1:8

    “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” -Isaiah 26:3

    “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
    -Matthew 11:28

    I pray for you Elise that Jesus will keep reassuring you and that you will grow strong in his love and peace!

    Much love,

    Cherilyn

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  6. Thank you for the wonderful recommendation! That will be the lost fun way ever for me to explore this series; discovering it with my daughter! I’m so happy you wrote about your childhood books. I buried myself in books to escape the reality of my sad life at home. Books took me away and showed me how loving parents treated their children, and how healthy families disciplined and taught life lessons and gave their children unconditional love. Thank you God for the gift of reading! What a joy! ❤️

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