A Picture Not Worth a Thousand Words?

Cover of "Anne of Green Gables"

Cover of Anne of Green Gables

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Do you share my outrage? I refer, of course, to the new book cover for Anne of Green Gables featuring a buxom young woman with blond hair and a come-hither expression. (She’s also wearing a plaid shirt that is just wrong for the turn-of-the-century story, as well as being just wrong.) As anyone who has ever read the book knows, Anne has RED hair. This is not simply a question of me being disappointed because a fictional character does not appear as I imagine her. I mean it bothered me that Inspector Lynley had dark hair in the BBC series instead of blond hair, as Elizabeth George described him, but I got over it. Anne’s red hair, however, is of such major importance to the story that it is almost a character in and of itself. Moreover, when Anne of Green Gables begins, Anne is a child of about ten years old. She is described as skinny and freckled with two red braids—hardly the sexy young woman on the new book cover.

I’m not certain when I first encountered Anne, but the book I read over and over again had a dark green cover without a picture. It’s possible that there had been a dust jacket that was lost long before I found the book. It had probably belonged to my older sister, and I decided to “borrow” it one day. I did that quite frequently. I first read Anne as a pre-teen, and then I read it many times throughout high school, and even as an adult. When I needed something to cheer me up, I would read favorite sections—the chapter about Anne accidentally getting her best friend drunk (not as racy as it sounds), or the one where she tries to dye her RED hair raven black, but instead turns it green. I read several of the other books in the series, as well, which follow her journey from student to teacher, to young wife in her “house of dreams,” and finally to her life as a mother of several children.

Anne has continued to play a part in my life. When my daughters were young, we watched the Canadian Broadcast Company’s version of Anne of Green Gables. Megan Follows was a perfect Anne—with RED hair. We laughed at her adventures, and we cried when a certain major character died.

The spunky and imaginative Anne (the “e” on her name is also important) also helped me to make a dear friend after we realized she was one of many common bonds we shared. As Anne would say, we were “kindred spirits.”

Apparently, the criticism of the new book cover has been so harsh that the book, created through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, has been taken down. Well, we all make mistakes, and sometimes we learn from them. As Anne remarked, “But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice”.