I was going to attempt to make a list of my top 5, or so, fictional couples for this week’s Fun On Sunday. That turned out however, to be a seemingly impossible task. I have decided instead to dedicate individual posts to my favourite fictional couples! I don’t know how many I’ll end up doing…it could be 5, it could be 100. Who knows.
The other night when I was lying awake at 3:30 in the morning I decided to read ‘Anne of the Island’ to see if it could put me to sleep…it was not a success. That is why I have decided to kick things off with probably the first couple I ever shipped (is it cool to say shipped?) Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe.
Oh Anne and Gilbert. As soon as I read the slate over the head scene I knew it was destined to be love. 7 year old me knew what was up! The agony lies in waiting for 3 whole entire books for stubborn Anne with an E to realise it herself.
First she hates him…then they’re friends…like BFFs (because they said BFFs in the 19th century)…then she rejects him…then she realises she’s been in love with him the whole time and they live pretty happily ever after and have 6 little children. Awwwwe!
I’m glossing over many details…but any Anne fans know what I’m talking about. As fictional dudes go Gilbert Blythe is pretty consistently awesome. He’s handsome and smart and funny and most importantly he respects Anne and her ambitions and intellect. Let’s just ignore the fact that Lucy Maud Montgomery saw it fit to make Anne kind of boring and forget about her career after she was married… yep. All the good stuff happens before they settle down and be all married and stuff.
Anne cracking that infamous slate over Gilbert’s head in retaliation to him calling her carrots. Classic. Oh 11 year olds.
Every smile and gesture that Anne scoffed at or mistook for taunting and arrogance.
Gilbert saving Anne from near drowning and apologising for the 39 millionth time for the whole carrots thing…and her stubborn refusal to forgive even 2 years later.
Their whole let’s compete and try to outdo each other with our intelligence phase.
The moment they become friends and that whole chummy friendship stage. Plus those small hints of possible romance that good old Anne just kept on ignoring.
The tragic, failed proposal…oh the horror. This was too much for my little heart. Even just having read it again recently. It’s pretty heartbreaking. Why Anne? WHY?
The whole Roy Gardiner debacle…it was probs necessary for Anne’s character development…and the fact she carries Gilbert’s flowers at graduation instead of Roy’s. 19th century swoon.
The whole Ahh no Gilbert is sick and probably dying palaver that forces Anne to realise she’s actually in love with Gilbert! How has she been so blind! I honestly thought this bit went on for ages…but on my recent re-read I realised the suspenseful torture only lasted for about two pages…what?! Anyway they kiss and make up after that because spoiler alert…Gilbert doesn’t die. The fact that a near death experience is necessary for Anne to realise she’s been in love this whole time irritates me. But I’m willing to forgive because this story is cute and old.
I’m pretty much willing to forgive all the old fashionedness of the Anne stories, I don’t know if I’d be as keen if this was a contemporary story. But it’s quaint and cute and funny and sweet and pretty feisty for a children’s story of that time. Theirs is an affectionate relationship between equals and friends and is just one of those love stories that’s great to revisit.
Here are a couple of old timey love quotes for your enjoyment. I thought I’d have a hard time finding more than one or two…but I had a hard time choosing. There were way more than I remembered. They’re not edgy or subversive or even all that original. But I love Anne and Gilbert and I always will. Pure romance prevails!
“Gilbert took from his desk a little pink candy heart with a gold motto on it, “You are sweet,” and slipped it under the curve of Anne’s arm. Whereupon Anne arose, took the pink heart gingerly between the tips of her fingers, dropped it on the floor, ground it to powder beneath her heel, and resumed her position without deigning to bestow a glance on Gilbert.”
“Anne, look here. Can’t we be good friends?”
For a moment Anne hesitated. She had an odd, newly awakened consciousness under all her outraged dignity that the half-shy, half-eager expression in Gilbert’s hazel eyes was something that was very good to see. Her heart gave a quick, queer little beat. But the bitterness of her old grievance promptly stiffened up her wavering determination. That scene of two years before flashed back into her recollection as vividly as if it had taken place yesterday. Gilbert had called her “carrots” and had brought about her disdain before the whole school. Her resentment, which to other and older people might be as laughable as its cause, was in no whit allayed and softened by time seemingly. She hated Gilbert Blythe! She would never forgive him!”
“Anne had no sooner uttered the phrase, “home o’dreams,” than it captivated her fancy and she immediately began the erection of one of her own. It was, of course, tenanted by an ideal master, dark, proud, and melancholy; but oddly enough, Gilbert Blythe persisted in hanging about too, helping her arrange pictures, lay out gardens, and accomplish sundry other tasks which a proud and melancholy hero evidently considered beneath his dignity. Anne tried to banish Gilbert’s image from her castle in Spain but, somehow, he went on being there, so Anne, being in a hurry, gave up the attempt and pursued her aerial architecture with such success that her “home o’dreams” was built and furnished before Diana spoke again. ”
“For a moment Anne’s heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert’s gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath. ”
“You don’t know love when you see it. You’ve tricked something out with your imagination that you think love, and you expect the real thing to look like that.”
There is a book of Revelation in everyone’s life, as there is in the Bible. Anne read hers that bitter night, as she kept her agonized vigil through the hours of storm and darkness. She loved Gilbert – had always loved him. She knew that now. She knew that she could no more cast him out of her life without agony than she could have cut off her right hand and cast it from her. And the knowledge had come too late – too late even for the bitter solace of being with him at the last. If she had not been so blind, so foolish – she would have had the right to go to him now. But he would never know that she loved him – he would go away from this life thinking that she did not care.
“Nothing mattered much to me for a time there, after you told me you could never love me, Anne. There was nobody else — there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.”
“Comedy and tragedy are so mixed up in life, Gilbert. The only thing that haunts me is that tale of the two who lived together fifty years and hated each other all that time. I can’t believe they really did. Somebody has said that ‘hate is only love that has missed its way.’ I feel sure that under the hatred they really loved each other . . . just as I really loved you all those years I thought I hated you . . . and I think death would show it to them. I’m glad I found out in life.”