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Before Green Gables Hardcover – February 21, 2008

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Hardcover, February 21, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed author's Wilson's (The Leaving) disarming prequel to the beloved classic Anne of Green Gables gets off to a slow start but picks up momentum when the focus shifts from the heroine's parents to Anne herself. Orphaned in infancy, Anne is shuffled from one family to the next; despite poverty, hardship and heartbreak, she retains her indomitable spirit and an intense hunger for knowledge. Raudman's childlike voice has an innocent quality in keeping with Anne's sense of wonder and hope. She keeps a steady pace, allowing readers to enjoy the story as Wilson masterfully rounds out Anne's early life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, the release of this prequel is sure to cause quite a stir among Anne Shirley fans. A heroine beloved by generations of girls and women, Anne Shirley continues to have a devoted following today. Though purists will object, those who have often imagined Anne’s life before Green Gables will devour this backstory. Everyone who ever read the original book remembers hints suggesting that Anne’s prior life was no bed of roses, and Canadian author Wilson paints an appropriately bleak portrait of the orphaned Anne’s early years. Still, she manages to remain true to the optimistic tone of the original book while relating the hardscrabble  details of Anne’s first 12 years. The ready-made audience of women with fond memories of the classic coming-of-age tale will guarantee readership for this imaginative prequel. --Margaret Flanagan

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (February 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039915468X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399154683
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Corey A. Balazowich VINE VOICE on February 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first heard about the upcoming prequel to Anne of Green Gables I was nervous about it. It wasn't too far off the mark for me to worry that the new book would not compare to Anne of Green Gables - which is a very beloved novel of mine. However, I was mightily surprised when I read Before Green Gables as it was miraculously able to capture a lot (not all mind you) of Anne's essence that I was originally certain would be missing from this tale. For the die-hards this may still fall a little flat for them as it is missing a lot of LMM's descriptions and humor but it is still a lovely read. I think most fans of the series will enjoy having a new story to take them back to a simpler time with Anne - even if for Anne it was some of her hardest years. I really liked having some answers to where Anne came from, how she was brought up and what her parents were really like.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Cullum on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

I have to admit, this is a book I secretly half-longed for and publicly dreaded (in book club, that is). Let's face it, L.M. Montgomery and Anne Shirley are icons. As much as I wanted to know what happened to Anne before she showed up at the Bright River station, if Montgomery couldn't do it, I was content just to let my imagination do the work. Unfortunately, not everyone felt that way, hence the new book, a prequel to Anne of Green Gables. Don't get me wrong, the book's not all bad, but to accurately assess it, we'll have to take it in two parts.
First of all, the story itself. We first meet Walter and Bertha Shirley, newly weds- poor but happy. They ooze contentment. Soon Anne arrives and the contentment deepens. Her mother adores and pets her, but never regains her strength from the birth. Fever sweeps through the village and it isn't long before Anne is an orphan. She moves to the Thomas household where we hope she'll at least feel some love for the sake of her dead mother, whom Mrs. Thomas worked for and adored. We soon learn that this is too much to hope for and before her fifth birthday, Anne is pressed into service. This is the single longest sojourn of Anne's life and it quickly becomes tedious. There are those who provide Anne with little rays of sunshine, but for the most part, her life is one of drudgery and exhaustion. And it goes on for 200 pages.
After Mr. Thomas' untimely demise, Anne is sent to live with the Hammond family. Anne's hopes are again dashed when she learns that she is not to be anything more than a hired hand. We also see Mrs. Hammond's postnatal depression and how her whole family is sucked into it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jack B. Harmon on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since I am an octogenarian and male, every one wonders how in the world I ever got myself mixed up with this Anne business anyway. I got myself into this Anne business purely by accident. I have considered myself fairly well read in the male type authors such as Michael Crichen, Tom Clancy, Mark Twain, Jack London, etc.,etc.,
I just happened to see a movie of Anne of Green Gables. That set me off into an entirely different direction. After going through all of the eight books of the Anne series in just a few weeks (Including a couple of other L.M. Montgomery books,) I just happened on the preguel, 'Before Green Gables' by Budge Wilson.
Since no one but the original author can ever write a book exactually how it's supposed to be written, I think that Budge Wilson did a most outstanding and wonderful job with all of the research that she had done to write the book that comes very close on how Montgomery might just have written it.
Of course, she put in great detail on how Anne's parents died when she was just months old. Then taken in by the neighbors to be first raised and then be used as a virtual slave by the mother of the very disfunctional family where no love just discord is shown - all of her trials and tribulations - a lost childhood in a very disfunctional family where Anne was treated with no love - where she had to creat her own little world using all of her imagination in order to just keep herself sane. Then she is transfered over to another family almost as bad.
Finally her trip to the orphanage where Mrs. Spencer finally finds her and her whole world finally opens up to love and being a little girl again.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Everett on March 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've read pretty much anything I can get my hands on by LM Montgomery, and so I was intrigued by the idea of this prequel. It's not as good as Anne of Green Gables and all that followed, but the idea is interesting, and it feels fairly well executed.

Most of Anne's early existence was bleak, save a few bright spots where she meets "kindred spirits". What rang a little untrue to me, though, is that these people must have had a profound influence, but you never hear of them again in any of Montgomery's works. Admittedly, that's a risk the author has to take, but it's the one thing that bothered me about the prequel.

A good read, and a nice treat for Anne devotees, but read the original works first, and save this for later.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bearette24 VINE VOICE on March 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I thought the author did a good job of imitating Anne's voice, tastes and character. It reminded me of Syrie James' book, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, in that regard -- it didn't sound exactly like the original author, but close enough that you didn't mind.

The only thing that bothered me about the book was that it was DEPRESSING. Not consistently so, but by page 350 I was thinking, "Please, let something good happen. Please." One of my favorite things about the series was that it was so positive, and any setbacks that did occur were mild -- Marilla giving Anne plain dresses, etc. At first, Before Green Gables had that cozy, escapist feeling, too; but after a while, to borrow Anne's words, it was "mired in the depths of despair."

Fortunately, it had a happy ending. I don't think I'm giving anything away (but stop reading if you're worried) when I say that it ends with her heading toward Green Gables. I mean, the book is called Before Green Gables, and everyone knows what happens next. I thought the ending was really well-done, getting into Anne's head and showing how she was leaving all her past experiences, good and bad, "on the other side of the Northumberland Strait."

This would explain why the characters in this book aren't really referenced in Anne's subsequent life -- an omission that bothered some reviewers. It made sense to me, and helped explain how Anne got over her early tragedies.

In summary, I would say if you're worried about inconsistent tone or bad writing, there's no cause for concern. But if it would really bother you to see Anne undergoing some fairly extreme hardship (albeit with a happy ending), that might be an issue. I don't regret reading it, but I think some of the events could have been softened a little.
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