Anne of Green Gables
Book reviews of L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables focus on the protagonist, Anne Shirley, an orphan who is mistakenly sent to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who were hoping to adopt an orphan son to help out on the farm. Summaries of Anne of Green Gables usually note that Matthew and Marilla are actually a brother and sister who never married and the reason they wanted to adopt an orphan is because Matthew, now in his sixties, is getting to old to tend to their farm, Green Gables. When the twelve year-old Anne is mistakenly sent by the orphanage, Matthew and Marilla are charmed by her and decide to keep her.
Despite the circumstances of her life, Anne is an optimistic and happy girl. Summaries of the novel usually include Anne's struggle to become a "proper young lady." Despite Anne's trying to please Marilla by acting like a lady, she continually makes uproarious, albeit genuine mistakes including allowing a mouse to drown in a sauce while cooking, making inappropriate prayers, and wearing a wreath of wildflowers to church. After accidentally getting her only friend, Diana, drunk off wine which Anne mistook for a raspberry drink, Anne is disallowed from seeing Diana. Fortunately Anne later saves Diana's younger sister and Diana's mother is forced to forgive her, allowing the two girls to be friends again.
Anne is especially gifted at school, where she creates a rivalry with the other smartest student in the class, Gilbert Blythe. After reviewing the summary of her work, Anne is encouraged by a teacher to apply for the Queen's Academy. Anne and Gilbert's rivalry becomes more familiar and endearing when they are both accepted to the academy. Anne works hard at school to make the Cuthberts proud. She is elated to win a prestigious four-year college scholarship. Anne returns to Green Gables to tell the Cuthberts. While home, Matthew, who has been sick, dies of a heart attack. Marilla is also not doing well and Anne decides to forgo her scholarship in order to teach locally and be closer to Marilla. Gilbert hears of Anne's sacrifice and makes his own by declining a teaching post at Avonlea, allowing Anne to take the job instead. Anne and Gilbert become friends after years of rivalry, and despite Anne's having given up so much of her future prospects, she remains as she was as a child, in summary, happy and optimistic.