Anne of the Island is the third in the series of Anne books by L. M. Montgomery. This book follows Anne as she leaves Prince Edward Island to attend Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Over the course of the four school years and four summers Anne makes many new friends (and a few kindred spirits), finds a home away from home at Patty's Place, witnesses her best friend get married and another friend pass away, becomes an author, is proposed to by several men of varying personalities and circumstances and refuses all of them, and yet in the end discovers true love.
Along the way Montgomery wove in many delightful scenes of beauty and comedy through the settings of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Redmond College and the endearing characters readers have come to love in the earlier books.
I really view Anne of the Island as the culmination of the coming-on-age books in the series, which began with Anne of Green Gables. From this point on in the series Anne is grown and the story takes on a different path, yet the books are just as special. While Anne of the Island doesn't hold as much action as Anne of Green Gables, it does have more of a plot than the second book, Anne of Avonlea did and for that reason Anne of the Island ranks a little higher in my opinion, almost equal to Anne of Green Gables. (To see my reviews of the first two books click on the hyperlinked title.)
This was my second reading of Anne of the Island, the first being during my high school years. And I found that I enjoyed it just as much now as I did then. Many wonderful memories from my own childhood and college years surfaced as I read this book, particularly those from the lazy yet pleasant summer days where two of my own kindred spirits and I explored the woods near our homes. There is something special about a book that can do that.
Interestingly I found myself reminded of another set of books I read during my high school years, The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. While they are not to be compared with each other I think it is safe to say any fan of the Anne series looking for some new reads should take the time to read through the Betsy-Tacy series, they were a favorite of mine and equal my feelings for the Anne series.
As I've mentioned before, until recently I did not own any of the books from the Anne series, shocking I know! I started off listening to Anne of the Island on audio book, but found the reading too slow going, so on a whim I decided to start collecting my own copies. I bought Anne of the Island on Wednesday evening and finished off the book in a few evenings. While I do enjoy the multi-tasking that an audio book allows, I just didn't have the patience to listen to this story, I wanted to read it myself.
Readers familiar with the Kevin Sullivan Canadian film adaptations will find in this book a story that is vaguely familiar, yet different from the Anne of Avonlea film. The movie plot is a mix of stories from Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, and also Sullivan's own imagination. However in spite of this casserole of plots and scenes, the astute reader will recognize a few quotes and scenes in the book that are also in the movie... and yet even in those only a few are verbatim or said by the same character. While I have always loved the Sullivan adaptations I have come to love the original books even more. As good as they are, the movies are missing a certain richness (in characters, scenes, and dialog) that is only found in the books. I can't help but hope some day another adaptation of the series will make it to the screen, something a little truer to the books that will reintroduce them to the next generation. In the meantime, I think watching the movies is a great way to enjoy the books when reading isn't possible.
On a scale of one to five, one being horrible and five being excellent I would rate the book: Anne of the Island a 4.5. I really enjoyed this book, I almost think I loved it. This is definitely a book for every readers personal library and one that can be read over and over through a life-time. It is a great read aloud or book to share with younger readers, yes even some boys.
Note: Anne of the Island was the second book I selected for the the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge. I plan to read the next in the series Anne of Windy Poplars, but not in time to include it in this challenge. Look for my review of it sometime in the next month.