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Synopsis

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, a brother and sister in their fifties who live together at Green Gables, a farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Canada, decide to adopt a boy from an orphan asylum in Nova Scotia as a helper on their farm. Through a misunderstanding the person who ends up under their roof is a precocious girl of eleven named Anne Shirley. Anne is bright and quick, eager to please and talkative, and extremely imaginative. She does not see herself as beautiful, but is interesting-looking, with a pale countenance dotted with freckles, and long braids of red hair. She would really like to be called Cordelia; but she insists that if you are to call her Anne, it must be spelt with an 'E', as that spelling is "so much more distinguished." Being a child of imagination, Anne takes much joy in life, and adapts quickly, thriving in the close-knit farming village. She is something of a chatterbox, which initially drives the prim, duty-driven Marilla to distraction, although shy Matthew falls for her immediately. They become what Anne calls 'kindred spirits'.

The rest of the book recounts her adventures in the country school, where she quickly excels in her studies; her friendship with Diana Barry (her best or "bosom friend" as Anne fondly calls her); her budding literary ambitions; and her rivalry with classmate Gilbert Blythe, who teases her about her red hair and for that earns her instant hatred, although he apologizes many times. Anne and Gilbert compete in class and Anne one day realizes she no longer hates Gilbert, but will not admit it; at the end of the book, they become very good friends.

The book also follows her misadventures in quiet, old-fashioned Avonlea. These episodes include her games with her friends (Diana, Jane Andrews and Ruby Gillis), her run-ins with the unpleasant Pye sisters (Gertie and Josie),and her domestic mistakes such as dyeing her hair green or accidentally getting Diana drunk (by giving her what she thinks is raspberry cordial but is in fact red currant wine). Anne eventually goes to the Queen's Academy, along with Gilbert, Ruby, Josie, Jane and several other students. She obtains a teaching licence in one year instead of the usual two, in addition to winning the Avery Scholarship in English, which allows her to pursue a B.A. at Redmond College on the mainland in Nova Scotia.

Near the end of the book, Matthew dies of a heart attack after learning of the loss of all his and Marilla's money in a bank failure. Anne shows her devotion to Marilla and Green Gables by giving up the Avery Scholarship to stay at home and help Marilla, whose eyesight is diminishing, and teach at the Carmody school, the nearest school available. In an act of friendship, Gilbert Blythe gives up his teaching position at the Avonlea School to work at White Sands School instead, thus enabling Anne to teach at the Avonlea School and stay at Green Gables all through the week. After this kind act, Anne and Gilbert's friendship is cemented, and Anne contentedly looks forward to the next "bend in the road."

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