Last night with the Christmas tree sparkling, I watched “Anne With an E” on Netflix. In the Netflix show the pastoral beauty of Prince Edward Island pops in juxtaposition against the cold Nova Scotian orphanage. Jumping off from L.M. Montgomery’s 1908 book and numerous cinematic adaptations, the series details Anne’s indomitable spirit in the face of perpetual misery.
As the novel goes, The Cutberths (an agrarian brother and sister pair in advancing years) request a male child-laborer from the asylum. Asylum being an earlier moniker for orphanage. Instead of a male, our siblings receive a loquacious little red-haired girl. Sensible Ms. Cuthbert, not given to shenanigous folly, sets out to return Anne to her wretched situation.
On the previous journey from orphanage to beautiful Green Gables, Anne developed a bruise from pinching herself. She was in disbelief that her life could be that good. Sadly before the bruise even yellows, her good fortune is reversed. Anne’s words as she leaves paradise and returns to hell made me weep. Our persevering protagonist says this: “I will enjoy my ride back to the orphanage because I have already determined to do so.”
With that phrase the tears erupted and the river of my maternal heart spilled forth. Child actress Amybeth McNulty’s brilliant portrayal did me in. Do not fear, there are twists and turns,” my friend Lynne (with an e) who recommended the show to me was quick to text back when I told her I was totally gutted not 30 minutes in. “Many twists and turns,” she said, but I was already sunk.
I continued to watch as the character chose to keep it on the sunny side through many dangers, toils and snares. She is brave, brilliant and determined to steel herself against the life of rejection dealt her. I adore Anne with an e. I admire the way that she determines herself into positivity. Like another e-Anne, Anne Frank, who wrote about the beauty of life while hiding out in the Secret Annex as World War Two raged on.
Perhaps our heroine’s positivity is phenomenally unrealistic; that no one in her position in life would make things better by sheer force of her will. Maybe our troubles won’t be defeated by the choice of our minds. But perhaps more is in our control than we’ve dared to admit. What IF life could be transformed by our determining in advance to enjoy the ride?