First book review of the year!! <3

Well, I managed to finish three books in January. This is a record for me, I think. I was elated to put the third one, all finished on my nightstand a little after 10 pm last night. This morning, it hit me as I jotted it down in the back of the calendar on our counter that two of the three are considered to be children’s books suitable for grades 4th – 7th. 

While I love to read, I am a slow reader and maybe my mental state has not progressed much past age thirteen so there we have it. Also I wanted to comment that all three are fiction. Russ mentioned to me that he thought I didn’t read fiction and if you have known me any length of time, you might be asking the same thing. I will clarify for you as I did for him. 

I don’t have anything against fiction, but I personally have to be very careful about what fiction I read. As you may know, I have loved the Lord of the Rings but have to read in small doses. My mind is rather busy all of the time. I have enough of a circus going on with my own random thoughts that a lot of fiction can get twisted up and become my reality. 

If I find myself dwelling on characters and plots as I go about my day, I know that the book I am reading has become to real to me. I am also a barrel of laughs to watch a movie with because for days later I am still asking questions and filling in new insights to anyone who will listen. 

So if you are like me and struggle with fiction addiction, you will be happy to know that all three of these books were entertaining without being oppressive on the imagination. 

Let’s start with the Anne of Green Gables selections. I finished the third and fourth book in the series this month. These take Anne through high school, college and her first three years as a high school principal in Summerside. 

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the flora and fauna as well as the many people Anne encounters. The fourth book, Anne of Windy Poplars was a little hard to get into as a lot of it takes place through excerpts of letters to her fiancé Gilberts. There are also the regular narratives, and the back and forth between these two forms got a bit tiring for me. 

There are many insights into personality and character navigation in the writing of this series. A couple of things that stand out as I share so I will highlight those and then move on to the last book.

When Anne is taking a turn at writing a fiction piece to submit to a periodical, one of her friends she asks to edit comments that she needs to provide a redeeming side to the villain of the story. Anne refuses to do this. Her villain will be evil to the end and meet his just reward. Her critic points out when her piece is not accepted by the publisher that she might consider in the future giving everyone a chance of redemption. He tells her that for the most part there is some good in everyone and everyone is worthy of making a change in the right direction. I love that.

Another insight that touched my heart was Anne’s attempts to become friends with an extremely difficult co-worker in her first official job out of college. Katherine is harsh and sarcastic and the complete antithesis of optimistic, life-embracing Anne Eventually Anne convinces Katherine to come home with her for Christmas break at Green Gables. 

During the visit, Katherine is able to share her story of heartache that has made her bitter towards Anne as she assumes the latter has had a charmed life. On the contrary, Anne had every reason to be bitter but chose not to be. This was a good reminder that we do not know anyone’s story – neither the pain that has inhibited or been overcome. 

The inspiration I am getting from the series is that we really don’t know anyone’s story until we take the time to get to know them and let them tell us. A good lesson at any age. I also am encouraged by Anne’s attitude about facing troubles and looking for good things.

As for the third book, if you are unfamiliar with Marie Benedict, it is fiction based on a true story. This book and another by the same author were gifted to me by one of our loyal customers at the shoppe. She thought I would enjoy them and I certainly did enjoy the first one. It kept my attention without captivating me. 

When I was a teenager, I would walk from our house all the way to our small downtown and visit the library fairly regularly. I read every single Agatha Christie book off the shelves. Sometimes twice. But I never knew Mrs. Christie’s story of betrayal by her husband, odd disappearance and amnesia. 

The story line is written with alternating past and present. The unfolding of the relationship between her and her husband and the current setting of her disappearance volley back and forth. Unlike the format of the second Anne of Green Gables between letter excerpts and story line, this one was not at all annoying. 

It was so good. 

I can’t say more about the plot, but it was a fun one. The only thing that bothers me is that it is fiction (albeit based on research) so I am not sure where the line is drawn. But it was a mystery worthy of Mrs. Christie and I loved it. 

I will say there is nothing inappropriate in it if you try to steer clear of books that are, for lack of a better word, racy. If it was a movie, it would have been rated PG just for the subject of an affair and marital discord. 

Okay – there you have it. What are you reading this month? Also, if you are local – I would be happy to loan you the Anne of Green Gables series and the Agatha Christie mystery book. I have a friend who is reading it next, but will put you on the list!

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