Marc Falkoff uses action and dialogue to present the character and events of the story. It does not feel like or read like an abridgment. Even his narration shows us what happens, rather than merely telling of events. When Anne overhears Marilla suggest she might keep ‘the girl’, we are not told “suddenly Anne had hope.” Instead we learn, “a sunrise had dawned on Anne’s face“.
Anne soon got into ‘scrapes’. Faced with Mrs. Lynde’s, “Well they didn’t pick you for your looks…” Anne is furious and responds in kind. A just response perhaps, but Anne had to learn that Lynde was Marilla’s friend, that she was a guest, that two wrongs don’t make a right, that she would not benefit from bad relations in the community, and so forth. Once Mathew helped her hurt pride wane and her reason return, Anne knew what to do. Some might argue she spends too much time trying to fit in, but in this abridgment the focus is on establishing fair relationships with those around her.
Anne’s character is well defined. Of particular note is her Romantic idealism. While reading Anne’s rhapsodic monologues, it is worth keeping in mind that she is only eleven years old! (This is in itself a good reason for an 8 to 12 year old to pick up the story.) Anne does not wish for the unreal (as do philosophic Idealists), but rather deliberately seeks the beauty in what she has, or wants, and chooses the best relationships, with the most glorious elements. Given life’s vagaries, she is bound to be driven from euphoria to despair and back. Montgomery, and Falkoff, are consistent in that respect. On befriending Diana, Anne announces, “I’m the happiest girl on Prince Edward Island…” Then, when their friendship is forbidden, “I must cry. My heart is broken. Diana and I are parted forever … I little dreamed of this when first we swore our vows of friendship.” With such ideals, it also follows that she will not settle for second best, as we see in her studies and in her struggles with her romantic interest.
Should children read abridged classics? In this case it might work for a child that is daunted by the full work. Boys might be warned that Anne and her friend Diana really can go overboard, calling close friendships “love” and being so sappy about it. So, guys, don’t take that part too seriously, just notice how Anne works at her values.