In Before Green Gables we hear, for the first time, what Anne Shirley's life may have been like before arriving as an eleven year old orphan on the Cuthbert farm. Suffering the devestating loss of both her parents at the tender age of three months, Anne is shuffled from one foster home to the next, ill-used and barely allowed to escape, even to attend school, compulsory in her native Novia Scotia. Finally, even the foster homes are no longer and she finds herself in what seems to her to be a most desperately dreadful destination, the Hopewell Orphanage. Through it all, Anne bears her lot in life cheerfully, with the sort of curiosity and imagination we have all come to expect of her.
In Before Green Gables, acclaimed Canadian author Budge Wilson endevored to do something few people would dare, complete the story of Anne Shirley. LM Montgomery's beloved heroine has figured into the idyllic childhood memories of many a young girl, so to tackle such a cherished story must have been nothing short of terrifying. If she didn't get every detail just perfect, Miss Wilson would surely be crucified. In reading this book, I feel that Montgomery's estate chose well in selecting Budge Wilson to tell the rest of the story. Though lacking the exquisite language that, for me, added a great deal to the charm of Anne's story, Before Green Gables successfully imparted all we needed to know about Anne before she came to Avonlea and does so in a most pleasing fashion. Reading this on the heels of Rainbow Valley, I have convinced myself to do something I so rarely do, reread Anne of Green Gables and the rest of Anne's adventures.