by Brina Starler
Publication: June 1, 2021
I read Anne of Green Gables ago but remember loving it as soon as I picked it up. Anne Shirley was a smart girl with red hair who was stubborn with a quick temper. She loved reading and her mind was always on an adventure. I immediately adored her. I remember being both irritated by Gilbert and secretly hoping love was in their future. Anne and Gilbert might have been my first taste of a slow-burning enemies to lovers romance. Anne of Manhattan reverted me to my nine-year-old self as my heart leapt to see an adult Anne on the pages, an Anne who now shared in cell phones and text messages.
It was wonderful to be reacquainted with Anne Shirley. The book focuses on Anne in graduate school and Gilbert’s unexpected presence in her life. The author captures Anne’s voice well. Chapters in the past are expertly woven into those of the present, contrasting adult Anne’s more mature and tempered personality with her loquacious and imaginative nature in her youth. While some things change, not everything does. She remains steadfast in defending herself from injustices.
The romance is central to the story, and readers are treated with a few chapters from Gilbert’s point of view. We get a glimpse of just how much and how long he’s loved Anne. I likely wouldn’t have appreciated similar chapters in the original series, but they certainly appeased the hopeless romantic in adult me today. Gilbert largely remains the boy I remember, hiding his feelings for Anne and unsure whether the girl he relentlessly teased will allow the woman to see him differently. There’s so much tension as the Gilbert and Anne are forced to work together. If you’re an Anne and Gilbert shipper like I am, it was well worth the wait. I was extremely happy with how Starler handles the two of them together and apart.
With an entire series to work with, the author does a tremendous job of turning it into a single standalone book. Anne of Manhattan is superb in its tension building and teasing as it jumps back between the past and present. It evoked my love for Anne of Green Gables and stirred feelings of nostalgia. Retellings and modern adaptations are hard because it’s difficult not to compare them to the well-loved original. If you’re a fan of the original series and give the book a chance, you’ll be able to enjoy this wonderfully written modern adult retelling that focuses on the romance between Anne and Gilbert.