September 12, 2012

Book Reviews From The Cherry Tree

Last time I explained my reasons for choosing the title of my blog. To the “race who knows Joseph”, i.e. people who are intimately acquainted with Anne and know her ways perfectly well, it will be pretty obvious what the thing is with my subtitle: “book reviews from the cherry tree”. Nevertheless, let me explain it briefly, just in case there are some people among us who are not that familiar with Anne.

Regrettably, I’ve never been to the Prince Edward Island (it is at the top of my list of “places I must visit before I die”, though), hence I can only assume that the island must be full of cherry trees. This is the only possible explanation I can think of for the prominent place that cherry trees occupy in Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It really must be the case since Montgomery’s heroine describes the island—upon arriving at Avonlea and on her way to Green Gables—as follows:
Oh, there are a lot more cherry-trees all in bloom! This Island is the bloomiest place. I just love it already, and I’m so glad I'm going to live here. I've always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living here, but I never really expected I would. It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Ch. 2)

Yet, Anne and we already had our first encounter with a cherry tree before the above scene. When Matthew Cuthbert finally arrives at the train station, Anne, who has been dropped off much earlier, explains to him what she had planned to do, in case Matthew didn’t come as follows:

“I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?” she said in a peculiarly clear, sweet voice. “I’m very glad to see you. I was beginning to be afraid you weren’t coming for me and I was imagining all the things that might have happened to prevent you. I had made up my mind that if you didn't come for me to-night I’d go down the track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay all night. I wouldn’t be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think? You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t you?”
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Ch. 2)

Here, do you understand now? The crown of a cherry tree is just the perfect place for imaginary adventures. Therefore, Anne, who loves imaginary adventures, simply must have had her very own cherry tree. Which is why Montgomery “planted” a cherry tree directly at Anne's window, which fact Anne becomes aware of on her very first morning at Green Gables:
It was broad daylight when Anne awoke and sat up in bed, staring confusedly at the window through which a flood of cheery sunshine was pouring and outside of which something white and feathery waved across glimpses of blue sky. [. . .] it was a cherry-tree in full bloom outside of her window. With a bound she was out of bed and across the floor. She pushed up the sash [. . .] Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June morning, her eyes glistening with delight. Oh, wasn’t it beautiful? Wasn’t it a lovely place? Suppose she wasn’t really going to stay here! She would imagine she was. There was scope for imagination here.
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Ch. 4)

This cherry tree, which “adorns herself as a bride for her husband”, is named Snow Queen by Anne and she stays with Anne for a long time. In Anne of Avonlea we also learn that “Anne liked to sleep with her window open and let the cherry fragrance blow over her face all night. She thought it very poetical” (L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, Ch. 24).

I think there is even a symbolic meaning behind the death of the Snow Queen. It happens in Anne of the Island and Anne learns of this sad event upon returning to Avonlea.

She came down from the porch gable on the evening of her return with a sorrowful face.
“What has happened to the old Snow Queen, Marilla?”
“Oh, I knew you’d feel bad over that,” said Marilla. “I felt bad myself. That tree was there ever since I was a young girl. It blew down in the big gale we had in March. It was rotten at the core.”
“I’ll miss it so,” grieved Anne. “The porch gable doesn’t seem the same room without it. I’ll never look from its window again without a sense of loss.”
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Ch. 39)

But what is more important, the above conversation between Anne and Marilla is taking place shortly before Anne finds out about Gilbert’s being almost fatally ill and recognizes her love for him. As if the loss of the Snow Queen would have marked the beginning of a new era.

So, that’s the story of cherry trees in Montgomery’s series and the explanation for my choosing this “cherryish” design and blog title. Believe me, if I had a garden and a cherry tree in it, I would read my books in or under it. Regrettably, I’m not that lucky. Nevertheless, I can imagine having one and writing my reviews from it...

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your post about Anne's Snow Queen. I am from Prince Edward Island and grew up loving the Anne books.

    There are wild cherry trees are common on PEI, especially along the edges of woods.

    Here's a description of one of the native cherry species. And you might enjoy exploring other parts of this excellent web site -

    http://www.macphailwoods.org/nature-guides/shrubs/choke-cherry/

    Elly

    ReplyDelete