Before Green Gables.


464 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 978-0-670-06721-3
DDC jC813'.54




Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


An author’s writing a prequel to a series s/he has written is likely a challenge in itself, but when that prequel is to somebody else’s series, and one that has become an international classic, then the undertaking must seem to be especially intimidating since the new work will inevitably invite comparisons with the original. As Wilson says in her concluding acknowledgments, her task in writing Before Green Gables was “to try to solve the puzzle of how—coming out of a grim and deprived early life—[Anne] managed to become who she was when she first stepped off the train in Prince Edward Island.” In the main, Wilson has accomplished her task well, given the numerous challenges she faced. While Montgomery enjoyed the advantage of writing about a period in which she lived, Wilson had to research the series’ now historical setting in order to recreate the period feel while also emulating Montgomery’s writing style. Moreover, in one volume, Wilson needed to span the first 11 years of Anne’s life, with about one-third of that time being a period during which the infant/toddler Anne, though portrayed as precocious, had limited mobility and speech. Nonetheless, those who have befriended Anne via Anne of Green Gables and its sequels will definitely find the antecedents of Anne’s behaviour and character in Wilson’s prequel. Shelagh Armstrong’s 15 half- and full-page black and white illustrations contribute to the book’s “old” feeling, as does the book’s cover art, especially that found beneath the dust jacket. Recommended.


Wilson, Budge., “Before Green Gables.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024,