My favorite fictional worlds: avonlea edition

“Spring had come once more to Green Gables—the beautiful capricious, reluctant Canadian spring, lingering along through April and May in a succession of sweet, fresh, chilly days, with pink sunsets and miracles of resurrection and growth.” Green Gables, Anne’s home in Avonlea.

Even now, I can see myself there. The tall grasses and clear blue water. I breathe in and out, taking in the fresh air of the woods. In the distance, there’s a white horse with dark green shutters. It is a place I have loved as a little girl. 

Ever since my younger days, I loved living in fictional worlds. I particularly remember holding the full set of the Anne of Green Gables series.  It was my first real encounter with a world that was so full, bursting with color. Avonlea is this dear town with a sense of community. The people there know all of the families around them, know their histories. There’s a sense of community there that I’ve never felt. 

Avonlea is one of my favorite fictional worlds, but there are so many other worlds to explore. Some people love Harry Potter or for others, it’s Lord of the Rings. Despite what people say, fiction has value. The characters we love shape and mold our loves. Avonlea has given me so much that it’s a joy I return to regularly.

What makes Avonlea distinct?

Related Post: The Pull of Staying Rooted

A world unmarred by technology

L. M. Montgomery wrote about Avonlea long before the world of the internet and smartphones were upon us. It’s a world set in the late 1800s and her books continue through the first world war. While there are many joys of technology, there’s a sense of reality in these books that we no longer have today. There’s less divided attention between people and things. I’m not sure how we get back to that. Maybe taking a Sabbath without technology would be a good start. 

A world that abides by the seasons

Montgomery writes with the seasons. This is, by far, one of the main features that makes her writing unique. At the beginning of every book, she writes about the beauty of Prince Edward Island. The maple trees and the lovely birches. Through Anne’s eyes, we see a world growing with beauty. I’ll leave you with one example below. The descriptions of nature throughout her writing is a huge part of why I return to her work.

One June evening, when the orchards were pink-blossomed again, when the frogs were singing silverly sweet in the marches about the head of the Lake of Shining Waters, and the air was full of the savor of clover fields and balsamic fir woods, Anne was sitting by her gable window.

Silly gossip with deeper meaning

Avonlea’s gossip is so fun to read and it reveals deeper truths about our society today. This one may not be one people agree with, but let me explain. While gossip can do more harm than good (although Montgomery usually has it doing good), the gossip shows how connected the Avonlea community is. Everyone knows about the Harmons and the Andrews and the Lyndes. Family histories are known because generations of families have lived and grown in the same place, and there’s a real rooted community. 

Through technology and geological mobility, we are less tied down than ever before. We never have to stay where our parents stay, let alone our grandparents. And while that’s great for job hunting, it’s not so good for our wellbeing and our sense of community. We have a loneliness epidemic, and part of the reason we have this epidemic is because we don’t feel like we have people to belong to. So while Avonlea’s gossip might seem silly, it shows that people care about others beyond their own kin and that they’re knowledgeable about what goes on beyond their own front door. The silly gossip is all about the strength of community.

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A world with collective belief

Growing up, I was raised Catholic, and that’s all I knew about religion. It wasn’t until I entered high school and college that I really explored and understood that there were other denominations. I remember reading the words “Methodist” and Presbyterian” and thinking they were weird clubs or teams people were rooting for. 

Avonlea’s emphasis on faith is something we have lost. No, I don’t mean forcing people to believe in a certain religion, but I mean the fact that we once lived in a society in which we all had a collective belief in something. Now it feels like our world is fractured because there are so many ideas and so little collectivity. 

The traditions

Another big loss we’ve experienced is a lack of agreement on social norms. Walking someone home after church used to indicate romantic interest. Baking a pie for your new neighbor. A food train when someone has had a death or a baby. These seem small and unimportant, but living in a world with less defined social norms has made many aspects of life hard. Instead of having clarity, there’s confusion. The amount of TikToks I’ve seen with competing ideas of what dating means is astounding. We’ve really lost a lot when we’ve devalued community and being rooted.

I really do love Avonlea. I love the way Anne describes it as she walks around her community. I love most of the conventions of that time period. Even more, I love when Anne gets older and her children get to experience similar conventions even if it isn’t in Avonlea. Particularly, my favorite Montgomery book has always been Rilla of Ingleside. It’s a serious novel but it still has its charm.

Although I long to live in a world like Avonlea, I live in this world and I’m trying to infuse my New York City life with beauty by noticing the seasons, remaining rooted here for a little while (I may write about another book and that topic), and holding onto faith.

Signing off, 


What’s a fictional world you love and why?

2 thoughts on “My favorite fictional worlds: avonlea edition

  1. I think most of what we love about ‘yesteryear’ has to do with community. We are such a mobile society, that no one is tied to anyone any more. You touch on that with social mores, traditions, and so forth. We can only perpetuate those when we have continuity; and we don’t have that any more. All the parameters we’ve long used to identify ourselves have been jettisoned: culture, race, gender, religion, traditions. As you say, “Now it feels like our world is fractured because there are so many ideas and so little collectivity.” and “Another big loss we’ve experienced is a lack of agreement on social norms.”
    I don’t know how we can get those back, except through reading and following God’s Word; and, perhaps, through reading good fiction. 😉

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