Anne of Green Gables Book vs Movie (1985) Review

Warning: SPOILERS for both book and movie!

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1908)

Anne of Green Gables directed by Kevin Sullivan (1985)

Thoughts on the book

My second time reading this and I think I even enjoyed it all the more! This is such a sweet, wholesome, fun book. It reminds me of Little Women in some ways-especially the first half of Little Women when they are younger-and I like Anne of Green Gables better!
I love all of the characters; each one has attributes I want to work harder at having in myself and there were multiple sections I highlighted! I also just love reading about life in Avonlea so even though at times this book doesn’t really have an intriguing, page turning plot moving the book forward, I don’t mind at all because I just love reading about Anne’s daily life.
The ultimate comfort read in my opinion.

The audiobook is narrated by the actress Racheal McAdams and she does such a wonderful job! She doesn’t narrate the next two which is a shame because the other two narrators I didn’t like as much as I had liked McAdams.


There have been multiple adaptations of Anne, but every Anne fan thinks of the 1985 made for TV adaptation starring Megan Follows to be the best! I have heard good things about the Netflix version called Anne with an E, and if I end up watching it I will be sure to record my thoughts on how it compares.

The 1985 adaptation is three hours and fifteen minutes and stays so true to the book. It almost feels silly to nitpick the changes, because they are so minor! There is one change though that they made which I wasn’t a fan of, so that will help make the episode more interesting rather than just me gushing about both book and movie for thirty minutes!

This movie was also filmed on Prince Edward Island, which is where the book takes place!


Megan Follows is incredible as Anne. Follows was 18, and in the book, Anne had been 11 but they upped her age to 13 for the movie.

Colleen Dewhurst plays Marilla and truly embodies this woman who is strict but loves Anne more than she can admit at times.

Schuler Grant is perfect as Diana. She is the youngest of the main cast, being only 15!

Jonathon Crombie is absolutely perfect as Gilbert. Crombie died a few years ago at the age of 48 from a brain hemorrhage.

Richard Farnsworth is Matthew, the shy man who is so taken by Anne. I have talked about him before in my episode for Misery! He has a role in that movie and although the movies themselves are totally different, his role in both is very likeable.


A change from book to movie is that the movie focuses more on Gilbert than the book does. Gilbert is of course in the book and the movie includes all the scenes with him, plus they add a few! The movie adds the scene when she first meets Gilbert when doing the three-legged race at the picnic. In the book, the first time she meets him is in class when he calls her “carrots”.

In book and movie, after he calls her Carrots, Anne ignores Gilbert and doesn’t even want to talk to him. Though of course she is on the verge of talking about him all the time because he is her main academic rival. The movie also added the scene when they are at the ball and she walks up to Gilbert and he ignores her. This was also not in the book. In the book she doesn’t talk to him at all until he saves her from the river and even then, he asks her forgiveness and she says no once again. Though she quickly realizes she truly has forgiven him and regrets not accepting his apology at the lake. After the lake he says he will never try to befriend her again and that was her last chance. So even though she has forgiven him, she feels she has missed her chance. In the movie, during the scene at the lake, Gilbert tells her they tied for first with the Queens test. In the book, Diana is the one who sees the news and runs to tell Anne.

The movie also shows them at school for the Queens test, and she wants to give him a note proclaiming her love; however she sees him with another girl and decides against it. This also was not in the book. I think this is the only book/movie I have covered where the movie included basically everything from the book, while also adding scenes! The movie is over three hours though, so they had time to add these scenes to really cultivate the romance with Gil.

Anyway, the movie also shows him giving her a carriage ride at another point. In the book, they don’t become friendly until the very end when he walks her home and they have a heart to heart. The book ends with this, so throughout the book they have very few interactions at all and the focus is more on Anne and her adventures growing up. It plants the seeds with Gilbert, but not as much as the movie does. He also calls her Carrots in the end of the movie in a tender way as he caresses her cheek. I didn’t love that he calls her Carrots in that scene, it seemed kind of silly to me.

Oh, and Gilbert is older than Anne in the movie, I don’t recall if this was the case in the book.

In the end of the movie, Diana tells Anne that she (Diana) had a crush on Gilbert. This wasn’t in the book.


In the book, Marilla is not against Anne having a romance and, in the end, she is glad to see Anne and Gilbert talking for so long before coming inside. In the movie, Marilla sees Gilbert at one point and basically warns him against trying to date Anne because she is too young. She also yells at Anne when Mrs. Lynde tells her she saw Anne getting cozy with Gilbert on the carriage ride home. I wasn’t crazy about this change, having her be so protective of Anne and not wanting her to date. But it certainly didn’t ruin the movie for me.


The book includes a number of scenes at church or about church, and these are the only scenes that aren’t in the movie. We see the minister and his wife, but in the book the wife played a bigger part and Anne was very fond of her and found her to be a kindred spirit.

And that about wraps it up for the differences between the two! I told you there weren’t a lot lol.

Comfort Read and Watch

This book and movie is just like a hug. I grew up watching the movie, and reading the book is such a delight. Avonlea and Green Gables is so idyllic, I could read about it forever. I wanted to share a passage from the book that really captures the beautiful way it describes things. “Anne and Diana found the drive home as pleasant as the drive in—pleasanter, indeed, since there was the  delightful consciousness of home waiting at the end of it. It was sunset when they passed through White Sands  and turned into the shore road. Beyond, the Avonlea hills came out darkly against the saffron sky. Behind them  the moon was rising out of the sea that grew all radiant and transfigured in her light. Every little cove along the  curving road was a marvel of dancing ripples. The waves broke with a soft swish on the rocks below them, and  the tang of the sea was in the strong, fresh air.”

Lessons Learned

Not only does Anne learn various lessons from her mistakes, but she also shares insight that I loved so much. Early on, she is wearing a dress that was made from fabric donated to the orphanage. Anne says she heard people guess he donated it because it was so ugly and no one was buying it. But Anne says she chooses to believe he donated it out of the kindness of his heart because he wanted to help poor orphans. In situations when we don’t know what the truth it, we should just assume the best! Honestly, even when I feel I have reason to assume the worst intention of someone, I still chose to assume the best because why not? It helps me live a better life to think the best of people.

There is another part where she is excited about the picnic and the passage reads, “You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla with a sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many  disappointments in store for you through life.” “Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of  them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be  disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.” This makes me think of a quote I heard in a podcast, “the better I am with disappointment, the more amazing my life will become.”

As Anne gets older, she starts to grow out of some of her old ways. She was very romantic, not in a love way, but like seeing the romance of things and believing in woodland fairies and renameing things so they are more beautiful. She tells Matthew how she isn’t going to be so foolish and romantic anymore and he tells her, “Don’t give up all your romance, Anne,” he whispered shyly, “a little of it is a good thing—not too much, of  course—but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it.”

Another section in the book tells how Anne has learned from all her past mistakes. “Well,” explained Anne, “I’ve learned a new and valuable lesson today. Ever since I came to Green Gables, I’ve  been making mistakes, and each mistake has helped to cure me of some great shortcoming. The affair of the  amethyst brooch cured me of meddling with things that didn’t belong to me. The Haunted Wood mistake cured  me of letting my imagination run away with me. The liniment cake mistake cured me of carelessness in cooking.  Dyeing my hair cured me of vanity. I never think about my hair and nose now—at least, very seldom. And  today’s mistake is going to cure me of being too romantic. I have come to the conclusion that it is no use trying  to be romantic in Avonlea…I feel quite sure that you will soon see a great improvement in me in this respect, Marilla.”

Book or Movie

You really can’t go wrong with either book or movie here. The movie is wonderful-oh and I forgot to mention the character who works in the shop. She is in two scenes, one with Matthew and one with Anne, and I just love her so much she was great in her scenes. Anyway, the book, as I said, is also a pleasure. I have read the first three Anne books and remember loving all three! I may have to read the next two again sometime soon and rewatch the movie adaptation of those as well!