New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With her old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and her frivolous new friend Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises…. including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson.
But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide whether she’s ready for love.
Anne of the Island, written in 1915, is the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series which was written seven years after the previous book. After staying in Avonlea to teach at her former school for two years, Anne finally gets the chance to go to Richmond College to obtain her degree. Anne’s delighted when Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane enrol, as well as her friend from Queen’s Academy, Priscilla Grant. Feeling like a fish out of water, Anne takes a while to settle but it isn’t long before she and Priscilla meet the popular Philippa Gordon who immediately takes them under her wing.
Philippa is a fun addition but it took me a while to warm to her as she is even more talkative than Anne and so indecisive to the point she can’t even choose which of her admirers she intends to marry. Once Philippa moves into Patty’s Cottage with Anne, Priscilla and Stella Maynard, we get to know her better and realise she isn’t as frivolous as she likes to portray. Philippa is from a wealthy family in Bolingbroke, the place Anne was born, so Anne gets to visit the little house where she was born and is given some letters her parents wrote to each other.
Montgomery races through the college terms rather quickly as the main focus of the book is Anne’s personal growth away from Avonlea and putting her in a position where she finally learns what she wants from life. As her old school friends mature, there is great happiness when Diana Barry and Jane Andrews get married but there is also tragedy when Ruby Gillis dies of tuberculosis just after finding her own true love. Ruby and Anne were never the best of friends but it is genuinely upsetting listening to Ruby talk about all the things she is going to miss out on after her death.
As usual, Anne gets caught up the romances of other people but she still can’t admit to herself how much Gilbert means to her. Gilbert stays in the background since he knows from previous experience revealing his love will just chase Anne away, however Gilbert reaches breaking point and finally proposes to Anne after two years at college. As expected, Anne turns him down in favour of maintaining their friendship but a devastated Gilbert says he wants more from her and they part ways. Anne seems content with her decision and even starts dating a new acquaintance, Royal Gardner, but her heart stutters every time she sees Gilbert with his new lady friend, Christine Stewart.
One of the main reasons Anne rejected Gilbert was because he doesn’t fit the romantic idea of love she has carefully cultivated from childhood but the dark-eyed Roy Gardner seems to fit the bill perfectly. Anne and Roy date for the next two years and her friends are positive she is going to marry him when college is over but Anne surprises them all by turning him down and they accuse her of stringing him along. However, Anne has come to the painful realisation she loves Gilbert and cannot envisage her life without him.
Back in Avonlea, Anne is dismayed to learn Gilbert is gravely ill with typhoid and it may be too late for them, however Gilbert pulls through and Anne gets a second chance. Gilbert explains he was never with Christine as she was engaged to someone else the entire time they were at college and he takes Anne on a romantic walk where he proposes to her again. It is a magical moment and the romance if it all isn’t lost on the starry-eyed Anne who finally accepts.
There are so many horrible things happening in the world today, it’s always nice to slip back into Anne’s world and feel the warm fuzzies all over again. The few negatives mainly stem from my dislike for Davey who still seems to be a serial killer in training, and then there is the episode where Anne and the girls try to get rid of a cat by chloroforming it to death in a box. That definitely doesn’t sit well with modern audiences. Anne definitely matures in this novel and while she is ready for a new adventure at college, she still has pangs about leaving Avonlea behind but her heart will forever belong to Prince Edward Island, hence the title of the book.