Monday, June 14, 2010

Anne of Green Gables Abridged

(Retold from the Lucy Maud Montgomery original by Kathleen Olmstead. Illustrated by Lucy Corvino. New York: Sterling, 2005)

If you remember, I liked Sterling's abridgment of Little Women. I felt it stayed true to the original. This abridgment of Anne of Green Gables does not. The word "retold" says it all. Olmstead takes liberties with the original and gives readers a mixed up tale that is rushed and only matches the original slightly.

The only success this abridgment can claim is that it does reduce the number of chapters and pages. The original version has 320 pages and 38 chapters (100th Anniversary Edition from Putnam). The Classic Starts' version has 145 pages and 24 chapters.

The first chapter was fine. It was after that it started to go downhill. This book is "retold" to the point the story is changed. Nothing happens the right way or in the right order. The whole book seems rushed. Remember, Anne of Green Gables covers Anne's life from age 11 to 16. 145 pages doesn't seem like enough to do justice to 5 years in the coming of age of such a heroine. L. M. Montgomery was known for her beautiful descriptions. These are totally ignored. Anne's quirkiness is also not as evident. Such an abridgment is what gives all abridgements a bad name. I was sorely disappointed and cannot recommend this book to younger readers. They should definitely wait and read the original.

Great Illustrated Classics also has an abridged version of Anne of Green Gables. I haven't read it for comparison. I only hope it stays true to the original.

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