My middle child, the bookworm, was given a copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm for Christmas. I read it for the first time only a few years ago. It seems like I’d heard of this book all my life, and I thought surely I’d read it as a child. But absolutely none of it seemed familiar, so I guess I’d missed this one.
The novel encompasses five years in the life of Rebecca Rowena Randall. One of seven children whose father died around the time of her youngest sibling’s birth, at the age of twelve Rebecca is sent to live with rich spinster aunts for schooling and raising. One aunt is spineless and the other is very hard to live with, but Rebecca’s engaging personality and active imagination see her through.
This book was first published in 1903. Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908. There are many similarities between the two books, but Lucy Maud Montgomery did a better job with Anne. It’s as if Montgomery read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, said, “I can improve upon this!” and did.
First, Montgomery did away with all of the unnecessary background (Rebecca might as well have been an orphan; Anne was an orphan). More importantly, Anne was a more believable and likeable character. Both Anne and Rebecca were wonderfully imaginative, but Anne was also head of her class at school (smart girls rule!), and the scrapes she got herself into were both more serious and more entertaining than Rebecca’s.
Rebecca’s story doesn't extend beyond the one book, but Montgomery wisely gave us more detail in several volumes for Anne’s story. And overall, somehow Wiggin’s book was sappy, sentimental and adolescent, whereas Montgomery’s books managed to get deep into my heart rather than simply skimming the surface. Comparing Rebecca to Anne all the way through kind of ruined it for me, but I couldn't avoid it. Not that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I knew it could have been better than it was.
One final complaint about Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (which is kind of a spoiler, by the way). Ever since the moment his character was introduced, I wanted Rebecca to marry Mr. Adam Ladd (Mr. Aladdin) at the end. At the rate she was growing up through the chapters I thought for sure we would reach that point, but we didn’t. With no marriage in this book, I had hoped it might take place in a sequel, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either. (Wiggins did write the New Chronicles of Rebecca, which I haven't read, but from what I've gathered it doesn't pick up where RoSF left off; instead, it tells more stories that occurred within the same time frame.) The fact that Mr. Aladdin was twice Rebecca's age might have made a wedding somewhat squicky, but a hundred years ago such a thing wouldn't have even been considered Lolita territory (once Rebecca was an older teenager, anyway).
Oh, and it also annoyed me that most of the story didn’t even take place at Sunnybrook Farm.
Am I the only American girl who didn't read this book when I was little? Maybe I would have appreciated it more if I had.
Now for something completely different…
1 day ago