Book Review: “Much Ado About Anne” by Heather Vogel Frederick

In my experience, lit about lit or books based on books tend to follow a fairly typical pattern.

You know, high school students perform “Romeo and Juliet” only to find that their own lives parallel the play in ways they never imagined (and generally don’t get until the end of the story.)

So I was expecting some orphans or a precocious redhead or at very least someone in need of a bosom friend when I picked up Much Ado About Anne.

When I got a couple chapters into the book and still hadn’t started to see parallels, I got a bit nervous.

It wasn’t what I expected at all.

And that’s a good thing.

Heather Vogel Frederick’s Much Ado About Anne doesn’t try to recreate Anne of Green Gables (as though another author could do it better than L.M. Montgomery!) Instead, Much Ado About Anne finds the mother-daughter book club experiencing their own story while reading through Anne’s story in book club.

Two great conflicts rise in the lives of the book club girls: first, their mothers invite the oh-so-stuck-up Becca Chadwick to join their club–and then Jess discovers that her family may be forced off their ancestral farm.

The girls (and therefore their readers) learn interesting factoids about L.M. Montgomery thanks to one girl’s librarian mother. And, just like good bibliophiles, they find ways of relating what they’re reading to their own lives.

And so, they realize that Becca is a Pye, and must be tolerated as a Pye. They relate to the utter mortification Anne felt when she dyed her hair green–although, of course, their mortification is over something entirely different. And they emulate their new heroine by naming the lands around them with fanciful names.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It has just enough Anne to make it worth its title–but not so much Anne that it’s lacking any substance of its own.

I’m glad I took the opportunity to take a glimpse at Anne through the eyes of four fictional middle-school girls. As a long-standing Anne-fan, I found myself thrilled with these girls’ glimpses of Anne–and I’m willing to bet that this book would be a great way to introduce a young reader who’s reluctant to read “old” books into the great story that is Anne. Once she’s read this, I can almost guarantee she’ll want to read the “back-story”–the novels the mother-daughter book club read and discussed and applied to their own lives.

Rating: 4 stars
Category:Middle grade fiction (female)
Synopsis:The mother-daughter book club gets busy reading Anne of Green Gables, dealing with their very own Josie Pye, and racking their brains to save Half Moon Farm.
Recommendation: Great for lovers of Anne, or lovers of YA fiction/young chick lit, or anyone who wants to introduce a younger girl to the joys of Green Gables.

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeI read this as a part of Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. Check out the link for more people’s comments on L.M. Montgomery. Visit my books page for more book reviews and notes by me.