Anne of Avonlea is a novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was first published in 1909.
Following Anne of Green Gables (1908), the book covers the second chapter in the life of Anne Shirley. This book follows Anne from the age of 16 to 18, during the two years that she teaches at Avonlea school. It includes many of the characters from Anne of Green Gables, as well as new ones like Mr. Harrison, Miss Lavendar Lewis, Paul Irving, and the twins Dora and Davy.
Explanation of the novel’s title
The book’s title is fitting, as Anne is no longer simply “of Green Gables” as she was in the previous book, but now takes her place among the “important” people (and the “grown up” people) of Avonlea society, as its only schoolteacher. She is also a founding member of the A.V.I.S. (the Avonlea Village Improvement Society), which tries to improve (with questionable results) the Avonlea landscape.
Anne is about to start her first term teaching at the Avonlea school, although she will still continue her studies at home with Gilbert, who is teaching at the nearby White Sands School. The book soon introduces Anne’s new and problematic neighbor, Mr. Harrison, and his foul-mouthed parrot, as well as the twins, Davy and Dora. They are the children of Marilla’s third cousin and she takes them in when their mother dies while their uncle is out of the country. Dora is a nice, well-behaved girl, somewhat boring in her perfect behaviour. Davy is Dora’s exact opposite, much more of a handful and constantly getting into many scrapes. They are initially meant to stay only a short time, but the twins’ uncle postpones his return to collect the twins and then eventually dies. Both Anne and Marilla are relieved (Marilla inwardly of course) to know the twins will remain with her.
Other characters introduced are some of Anne’s new pupils, such as Paul Irving, an American boy living with his grandmother in Avonlea while his widower father works in the States. He delights Anne with his imagination and whimsical ways, which are reminiscent of Anne’s in her childhood. Later in the book, Anne and her friends meet Miss Lavendar Lewis, a sweet but lonely lady in her 40s who had been engaged to Paul’s father 25 years before, but parted from him after a disagreement. At the end of the book, Mr. Irving returns and he and Miss Lavendar marry.
Anne discovers the delights and troubles of being a teacher, takes part in the raising of Davy and Dora, and organizes the A.V.I.S. (Avonlea Village Improvement Society) together with Gilbert, Diana, and Fred Wright, though their efforts to improve the town are not always successful. The Society takes up a subscription to repaint an old town hall, only to have the painter provide the wrong color of paint, turning the hall into a bright blue eyesore.
Towards the end of the book, Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s husband dies and Mrs. Lynde moves in with Marilla at Green Gables, allowing Anne to go to college at last. She and Gilbert make plans to attend Redmond College in the fall.
This book sees Anne maturing slightly, even though she still cannot avoid getting into a number of her familiar scrapes, as only Anne can—some of which include selling her neighbor’s cow (having mistaken it for her own), or getting stuck in a broken duck house roof while peeping into a pantry window.
Anne Shirley – Once a spunky, freckled orphan, Anne has grown up and now serves as the teacher of the Avonlea school. She still has not lost her imaginative spirit. She is a redhead that stands out from everyone else and adapts to her new atmosphere in “Anne of Green Gables”.
Marilla Cuthbert – The woman who took Anne in five years before, Marilla now gets along with Anne much better.
Gilbert Blythe – Anne’s childhood enemy and now good friend. Gilbert is also a teacher at the nearby White Sands School. He is in love with Anne but does not yet admit it to her.
Diana Barry – Anne’s bosom friend since childhood. The two remain best friends.
Rachel Lynde – Marilla’s best friend and neighbour, an outspoken and opinionated, but well-intentioned woman. Though she still argues with Anne, she is genuinely fond of her.
Davy Keith – One of the twins whom Marilla takes in. Davy is mischievous, loves to eat sweets and rarely does what he is told. He has fair, fuzzy ringlets all over his head, one dimple, roguish hazel eyes, a snub nose and is often smiling.
Dora Keith – Dora, Davy’s sister, is completely the contrary. She does everything she is told without mistake and is very docile. She has fair, long, sleek curls, mild hazel eyes, a straight nose and “prunes and prisms” mouth.
Jane Andrews – Anne’s childhood friend, also a teacher at the Newbridge School.
Mr. J.A. Harrison – Anne and Marilla’s new neighbour, a man who initially appears bad-tempered, but becomes a good friend of Anne’s with his grounded and practical attitude. He has a very rude parrot named Ginger.
Paul Irving – One of Anne’s students, an imaginative young boy and a fast friend for Anne. He was raised in the United States and has come to Avonlea to live with his paternal grandmother.
Miss Lavendar Lewis – An imaginative, attractive, old maid with snow white hair who Anne and Diana come across on their way to a friend’s place.She lives in Echo Lodge. She also becomes good friends with Anne.
Charlotta the Fourth – Miss Lavender’s maid. Her real name is Leonora and she is the youngest of four girls who have all been employed by Miss Lavendar. Her eldest sister was named Charlotta and Miss Lavender kept referring to Charlotta’s three sisters as “Charlotta” as well.
Stephen Irving – Paul’s father and Miss Lavendar’s sweetheart from her youth. The two had an argument before Paul was born and Mr. Irving left for the States and married Paul’s mother. They are once again reconciled by Anne many years after Mr. Irving’s first wife’s death.
Priscilla Grant– An old classmate of Anne’s from Queens academy.