By Candace West
Getting smacked with a slate was not how Gilbert Blythe expected to fall in love. I daresay most of us would avoid such a head-splitting blow to the heart. When L.M. Montgomery first penned that scene, I doubt she knew she was writing one of the most beloved romances of all time. Yet it works. It charms us. A skinny, red-headed orphan loses her temper to a teasing flirt who in turn loses his heart. From that smack until Anne and Gilbert share their first kiss, we hold our breath.
Conflict between enemies turns eventually into conflict between two friends, one of them in love with the other. Can a story get any better than unrequited love? We agonize with Gilbert while we itch to shake Anne by the shoulders (even though we love her). The perfect guy is right under her nose, but she is blind. Bravo, L.M. Montgomery! You snagged our hearts forever!
Why, then, did it take three books for Gilbert and Anne to get it right? I think Lucy Montgomery would tip back her head and laugh at this digital, high-speed, instant gratification world. She instinctively knew that the future Blythe’s needed time. Gilbert had to first grow into a man shaped by his experiences. Anne had to taste freedom, independence, and a touch of romance before she could comprehend her “book of Revelation.” Their characters mature and strengthen, preparing them for that perfect moment that would otherwise be unperfect without it. Just as a rippling creek smooths and shapes the rocks beneath, time and trials shape Anne and Gilbert for that perfect moment when their love is ready.
Even now, their romance is timeless. Just the mention of Anne and Gilbert makes so many of us weak-kneed. This kind of effect does not happen at the whim of an author’s pen. Authors must develop it. Like the reader, they must get acquainted with every character to make a story live in the imagination. By investing time into characters, authors blur the lines between fiction and reality. By the story’s end, we feel like those characters really lived.
The result? A story we forever remember.
I am so glad Lucy gave Gilbert and Anne all the time they needed.
Your characters have known each other since childhood. How do you plan to help them realize they care deeply for one another?
More about Candace West:
Amazon: Lane Steen www.amzn.com/B07VCZ5MV3