Before Green Gables
Anne Shirley is the unquestioned champion of her own life in Budge Wilson’s Before Green Gables, the Montgomery-estate approved prequel to Anne of Green Gables. Wilson tells a tragic story of abandonment, misuse and abuse in Anne’s early childhood but never once allows her to give in to her circumstances as she struggles for respect, education and love. Anne’s personality never is adversely influenced by her dysfunctional foster families but she, wisely, is never portrayed as super-human or precocious in her ability to influence events; a case of unintentional match-making can be ascribed to Anne but she is still at the mercy of the turbulent seas her foster homes are swept up in. Anne’s effusive patter is in Before Green Gables as well as her romantic imagination. Readers of the original novels will find things they recognize here, though the harrowing depictions of alcoholism, domestic abuse and post-partum depression are darker than any of the material in Anne of Green Gables. Wilson holds no punches and it makes for rewarding reading. Anne is the hero in this story because Wilson portrays her life as being more difficult than LM Montgomery’s text would indicate and because of how we know it all turned out in the end.