Before Green Gables begins with Anne’s parents, a couple who loves each other and their daughter with everything they have. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep them from succumbing to the fever that rages through the town. Anne is then taken in by a local family with a lot of small children who needs the extra pair of helping hands.
Anne’s life with this family (and the subsequent one, full of twins) is far from easy and far from happy. But as we would expect with Anne, she finds glimmers of hope and love to help her survive. Wilson really tries hard to portray Anne as a child, and she does a fairly decent job. We can see hints of the Anne who can’t stop talking, the Anne with a temper she can’t control, and the Anne who revels in nature. But try as she might, Wilson just can’t capture that elusive something that Montgomery’s Anne has. I give her all sorts of credit for trying, but she just falls short.
Before Green Gables is not for the Anne purists. But it does still tell a good story, and it’s a perfectly plausible history of Anne pre-P.E.I. If you enjoy Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, you would enjoy this book – provided you come with realistic expectations. Just relax and relish the story of a red-headed girl named Anne (with an e).