Thursday, 23 February 2012

40 Books for Lent: 2. Anne of Green Gables

Mrs. Cadbury: Tell me, what you know about yourself.
Anne Shirley: Well, it really isn't worth telling, Mrs. Cadbury... but if you let me tell you what I imagine about myself you'd find it a lot more interesting. 

 As a child, I had three literary heroines. Jo from the Chalet School, Jo March, and Anne Shirley.

All three had ambitions to be writers; they were tomboyish and blunt, they were forever getting into scrapes, they thought boys a waste of time, they wrote plays and let their imaginations run wild and they all had fierce mothers/ big sisters/ adoptive aunts who pushed them to become great women. They were my icons.

Anne, with her 'carroty' hair, temper, and flair for the dramatic, was possibly my favourite (though I still have a hankering to call my first child Josephine).

I was talking to a red-headed 12-year-old girl recently, and she was telling me about how much she likes Nicola Roberts, who made last year's best pop album (fact). She made her feel less isolated.
It was really important to me, as it still is, to have relateable icons whether in print or the media.

Anyway, the Anne books are full of cheesy, homespun wisdom, but they emphasize the importance of family, faith ("Mrs. Hammond told me that God made my hair red on purpose and I've never cared for Him since"), and in doing things for yourself even if you are just a girl, a girl with red hair. When you're being called names in school, it's a good thing to remember that someone has already broken a slate over the boy's head. (I dreamed of being brave enough to do that throughout my schooldays - still do, sometimes.)

It is the books that I read before I was ten that probably have had the greatest impact on me, and I will never depart too far from their philosophy. Remember when you dreamed you could be anything? Well, I had a kindred spirit who taught me it was true.

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