Anne Shirley, the title character of the 1908 Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, is depicted on the cover of a reissued edition as an attractive teenage blond in a flannel shirt. The makeover of the beloved 11-year-old red-headed Canadian orphan has sparked Internet outrage among her die-hard fans since it was published late last year.
“I can’t eat. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?,” wrote a reviewer on Amazon. “How COULD anyone ever IMAGINE Anne Shirley with b-l-o-n-d-e hair?!…this cover is a false portrayal of our beloved red-headed Anne. The publisher of this cover is definitely NOT a kindred spirit!”
Another reviewer managed to eat, but was apparently so disgusted by the cover that she couldn’t keep her food down.
“As someone who grew up on these books and other books by Lucy Maude Montgomery, this makes me want to vomit,” a reviewer named Angela wrote. “I don’t even see this as merely a mistake regarding Anne’s hair color but the overt sexualization of this literary character. She was actually a young girl in the first books and at no point in the series does she ever revert to pole-dancing in flannel to save the family farm.”
An irate reviewer from Vancouver likened the depiction to “portraying Martin Luther King as a white man.” The new edition has so far received 324 mostly angry comments and has an average rating of one star.
The reissued book, which has been in the public domain since 1993, is being published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, a self-publishing company whose books are sold on Amazon. The practice of slapping a new cover on an old favorite is not a new use of self-publishing platforms–but in this case, it certainly seems to have struck a nerve.
For our part, while this doesn’t look like the Anne we remember reading about, we also don’t understand why anyone would buy a self-published edition of a book that can be downloaded for free. Also, while we would call a flannel shirt overtly sexy, it does bear a resemblance to Dawson’s Creek’s Jen Lindley. And we all remember the fast city life that Michelle Williams’s character was running from in the WB series.