Having written a book about the Amish—Money Secrets of the Amish—in 2011, many of my readers have an admiration for the Plain people. They love their old-fashioned values, both in money practices (bartering, thrift, growing your own food etc) and in the way they raise their children and live their lives.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when bunches of those same readers followed me quite happily to Avonlea, 1908, for my 2015 book Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me. It’s my first memoir, and a deeply personal one at that. The book braids my adoption story with that of my little girl’s adoption story and Anne Shirley’s orphan saga. Anne and I were adopted from Canada and raised there, and my Phoebe was adopted from South Korea and raised in Michigan.
After my book released, I also noticed that some of the people in my life who loved nothing more than to cozy up with a novel about the Amish were rediscovering Anne. Some, like my mother-in-law, found her for the very first time. At age 72, she had never read Anne, but spurred on by my memoir, she caught the bug, and blitzed through all eight Anne novels and the three-part Emily of New Moon series!
I wondered, what were the qualities in Amish novels which were parallel to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s fiction? I decided that readers of both appreciated the time travel, to an era that seemed gentler, more innocent. Like the Amish, Anne and her family, Matthew Cuthbert and his sister Marilla, lived on a farm, rode around in horse-drawn buggies, and wore old-fashioned clothing (though Anne’s eventual dream-come-true puffed sleeved dress would be too “fancy” for Sadie of Shipshewana!). They enjoyed simple pleasures such as trading buttons, strolling in the woods, and forming a “story club” to tell tall tales. Recent trips to Shipshewana, Indiana, and Mackinac Island, Michigan, and buggy rides in both, reminded me that this was how Anne Shirley, my favorite literary heroine, lived her everyday life. For her, a horse and buggy weren’t great and novel treats, they were as normal events as hopping in the minivan are for us.
Even the Amish are fans: I once noticed Anne of Green Gables sitting on a wooden table beside a rocking chair in an Amish home. And why wouldn’t they be fans? There’s plenty to relate to in Anne’s way of life.
If you haven’t read this beloved classic for many years—or ever!—it’s a great time to delve in again. With the launch of “Anne with an E,” which I review extensively on my blog (www.LorileeCraker.com), thousands of readers are returning to Avonlea again. In fact, Anne of Green Gables was the top selling Canadian book in the entire Chapters/Indigo chain of bookstores across Canada, 109 years after its release!
Head to Avonlea, Prince Edward Island, circa 1908, this summer. You’ll giggle, you’ll tear up, and most of all, you’ll be swept away to a place and time where kindred spirits abound.
Praise from Suzanne Woods Fisher: “Lorilee Craker’s ‘Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me’ is a deeply personal memoir about the search for identity that will strike a chord in all of us. Readers will feel as if they are sitting on a couch beside Craker, flipping through family photo albums, as the author shares the touching—and funny!—story of her adoption, that of her daughter’s and the impact of a red-headed ‘Anne-with-an-e” heroine who lit the path ahead of them in the direction of true belonging.”
Lorilee Craker is the author of fourteen books, including Money Secrets of the Amish, for which she was nominated for a 2012 Audie Award for best audio book, personal development (Jane Fonda won in her category!); Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me, a memoir braiding her and her daughter’s adoption with Anne’s story, and the New York Times bestseller Through the Storm with Lynne Spears. She lives in a 1924 house in Michigan with her husband, three children, a dog, two cats and a neurotic little hedgehog named Spike. She blogs about books, teenagers, Gilbert Blythe, books, TV recaps, and well, more books at www.Lorileecraker.com, posts about all of the above on Facebook, and loves to take dreamy photos of books, succulents (she’s a little bit obsessed), and teacups at her Instagram account @thebooksellersdaughter.