5 (terrible) life lessons I learned from the author of Anne of Green Gables

A lot of people have no idea who I'm talking about now, but, a few decades ago, LM Montgomery was a popular author, loved by many.

She wrote beautiful, sweet stories, usually of young ladies, mostly based in a place called "Prince Edward Isle", the most popular of which was "Anne of Green Gables".

If you've ever read it, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you think you know what I'm talking about because you've seen the movie /TV series... Well, uh, that's OK too.

Recently, I went through a reading spree where I've read every LM Montgomery book my mom (collector of books, especially this kind of book) has. 

I won't recommend this reading spree to others, even though I've enjoyed it myself. You'd risk danger of choking to death on the sweetness. The books are very descriptive, and it's hard to not want to visit Prince Edward Isle after reading them, as it sounds like the most beautiful place on earth.

They're meant to be filled with humour too, and they are, though not always in places LM Montgomery intended.

Like all authors, Montgomery was a teacher, her books a classroom where her readers could learn valuable morals and life lessons. Some of these morals were quite good and even applicable today.

Of course, this makes them far too boring to blog about, so here's the far more interesting, amusing and frankly awful ones.

1) Always Trust Strange Older Men. They're Probably Your Father.

Alright, theoretically, the early 20th Century was a more "innocent" time, and you didn't have to watch your kids like hawks. Children could run around outside and not risk being sold into sex slavery in Russia - I get it.

Still, It's hard to believe strange men who wanted the attention and physical contact of young girls always had the most innocent intentions.  

Throughout the books, a younger, female character is often written, one whose father is alive but hasn't been around since she was a baby. She tends to meet an older man, roughly 40ish or 50ish, who she instantly "can't help liking".

He always seems very interested in her, buying her lunch, talking to her and staring at her closely.

In one story, the girl meets him at the beach. He convinces her to hide from her friends, come with him back to his house, sit on his lap and kiss him (my defensive mind decided it must have at least been on the cheek).

In this instance, (as with the others), he turns out to be her long lost father as opposed to, you know, some dirty old man and child molester. 

Of course, he wasn't dangerous, because he had a twinkle in his eye and looked sort-of nice. Which brings us to:

2) You Can Always Tell If Someone Is Good or Bad, Just By Looking At Them

Montgomery didn't like surprises in character much. If anyone met anyone else, they knew right away if that person was good or bad.

They'd be able to instantly recognize malice or ill intent by the lines on someone's face or the spark in their eyes. For example, an older, pepper-and-salt haired man one particular main character meets must be a good man because he has laughter lines around his eyes. 

It doesn't occur to her that he laughs at the blood. 

Another character grows up to hate her father. Her mother had left him soon after the main character was born, and the main character had never heard from him since.

Her mother seems in agony every time her father is mentioned, so the main character concludes her father must have been a frightening, evil man.

One day, a letter comes, demanding the girl go to her father for the summer, threatening legal action and "ruining" the mother if she doesn't. The girl goes, frightened and worried.

Of course, the moment she meets her father, he looks so good she forgets all her fear and mistrust, and instantly knows he's a good man who loved her mother before he's even opened his mouth to speak.

This sort of thing happens time and time again in the books. In one book, a girl meets 7 new people. She can tell from looking at each who is "good" and who isn't. She's completely and 100% right.

Montgomery was subtle that way.

3) Racism Is Awesome And Accurate

Thankfully, Montgomery doesn't really bring this up often, but, here and there, she writes a character that's such a racist stereotype, it's stomach turning.

**Please note that I do not, in any way, agree with Montgomery's views regarding race. The following describes her bad "lessons", not my beliefs.**

One story in particular has a female character who is a "half-breed", the disgraceful mixture of European and (gasp) a savage native American.

She meets a young man who spends the summer with her, as her English blood gives her courage and beauty and makes her a pleasant friend, but she is, of course, half a savage and could never expect to actually be asked to marry him.

One day the boy meets a nice, Canadian girl with good, British Isles heredity, and forgets all about his "half-breed" friend.

It's not his fault. He didn't realize he was leading the girl on by treating her the same way any guy would treat a girl he was interested in marrying in those days.

She should have understood. Native Americans simply don't get to marry respectable and civilized lads.

The "half-breed" girl is heart-broken, but when the man is shot, (by another savage) she shows nobility of spirit by fetching his new girlfriend to come see him while he's dying.

Such nobility would be natural in a European girl, of course, but it's frankly amazing in a lowly half-breed. It's her European blood that is so strong, it's given her merits despite her "dirty", "savage" blood.

Another story has a young man who's Italian.

A good couple on a particular farm adopted the man when he was born and raised him up as their own. They loved him and perhaps spoiled him, but his Italian temper begins to show.

He falls in love with their niece which is, of course, absurd. Sure this boy was raised in the same village as everyone else by good, respectable parents, but he's Italian.

The adopted parents of this young man, rather than encourage their niece to marry the only child they have, one they apparently love and cherish,  they scold her for being too nice to him and leading him on.

The young Italian boy eventually flies off his rocker and tries to murder the niece's boyfriend in a fit of Italian rage. He is stopped, and he runs away and is never heard from again.

His adopted parents breathe a sigh of relief. They had been very fond of the boy, of course, but heaven forbid he think himself an equal to real people just because they raised him and treated him like their own son.

4) There's No Need To Come To Terms With Your Looks. Your Flaws Will Go Away When You're Older.

Often, the young female characters of Montgomery's books have some sort of physical flaw that is a bane to them. The most famous of these is Anne Shirley, who has red hair.

Anne despises her hair and is deadly jealous of girls with black or blonde hair.

Most of the other characters in the books agree with her. Red hair is a horrible disgrace.

It's totally OK though. When Anne grows up, her hair changes to a "rich, auburn colour" and all is well. Only her enemies call it red, when they're trying to insult her. 

Of course, if you're still a ginger after the age of 16, there's no hope for you, ugly, ugly woman.

5) That Ex Boyfriend Of Yours You Haven't Seen For Years? He'll Totally Come Back And Marry You When You're 40

To be fair to Montgomery, I can't help but suspect she was hoping for this to happen. (It didn't.)

Time and time again there's a character in her books who is an "old maid" who would love to be married, but missed her chance when she was younger.

She's always got a lost love in her past, who she usually hasn't seen for at least 20 years. Sometimes he went away and married another woman, but that woman conveniently died leaving a child who, still more conveniently, meets the old maid and adores her.

Suddenly the boyfriend of the past comes back into her life and, within an hour, they're engaged.

Forget the 20 years they've kept apart. They're still exactly the same people and nothing has changed in their tastes or characters at all. They marry and live happily ever after...

So don't worry girls. Recycling ex boyfriends is a great idea. Go ahead and invite him on Facebook. Don't worry about his girlfriend or wife. She's either a total bitch he's gonna leave soon or she's gonna die.

Follow Laura on Twitter or visit her blog.

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