Okay, so I think the book pairing in this case should be the whole series, rather than just the single book. Although I’ve read the whole Anne of Green Gables series (many years ago), I have only read the first book of the Country Girls trilogy, and this will probably skew my perspective in the reviews and comparison below.
If you’ve missed all my previous book pairing posts (you can see them here, here, here, here, and here), let me explain. I’m taking part in the Reading to Distraction book pairing challenge based on this BuzzFeed article.
In today’s pairing, we’ve got Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien. Here’s the connection, according to BuzzFeed:
Kate and Baba of The Country Girls are like bosom friends Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, but if Anne and Diana eventually made their way out of the country and into the city. In this controversial trilogy, the girls — romantic, adventurous, and rule-breaking — leave their idyllic hometown for Dublin, where they pursue their passions side by side.
Anne of Green Gables
Everyone’s favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over. (Summary via Goodreads.com)
Of course I read Anne of Green Gables as a kid, and I really enjoyed it. It was never a series that I wanted to read over and over again, but I did like reading about Anne’s misadventures. She’s a fun, enthusiastic character who really carries the whole series, and her family and friends are quite fun to read about too. The books are pretty tame, and (with a few notable exceptions) nothing ever goes disastrously wrong for Anne.
Rating: Good but Forgettable
The Country Girls
Meet Kate and Baba, two young Irish country girls who have spent their childhood together. As they leave the safety of their convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their somewhat tumultuous relationship. Kate, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love, while Baba just wants to experience the life of a single girl. Although they set out to conquer the world together, as their lives take unexpected turns, Kate and Baba must ultimately learn to find their own way. (Summary via Goodreads.com)
On the other hand, things do go terribly wrong for Caithleen and Baba. Cait is still pretty young when her mother dies, leaving her to be raised by her alcoholic father and her on-again, off-again friend Baba’s family. The two girls are sent to a convent school, which they hate, and they have to find a way to cope, or escape. There is also a romance which I strongly disapprove of! The book is well-written, and it’s interesting to read about life in Ireland a few decades ago, but this book has some major issues in my mind. Unlike Anne of Green Gables, which runs along the lines of fun, enjoyable, and generally harmless, The Country Girls has some great moments balanced by some terrible flaws.
Rating: Good but Forgettable
These books are a very well-matched pairing, but neither is my favorite book I’ve ever read. I was never that dreamy kid who daydreamed about romance and about stepping into a new life, and that’s what both Anne and Caithleen are. If you decide to read this book pairing, though, it’s probably best if you commit to the entire series. I think you’ll get a lot more out of it that way.
Have you read either of these books (or book series)? How do you think they stack up to each other? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!