I have a confession to make.
Despite my all consuming love of Gilbert Blythe, I have never actually read Anne of Green Gables. Well, I had a 20 page Anne of Green Gables pop-up book when I was younger which I read at least once, but I’m not sure that counts. I know, I know, it’s terribly un-Canadian of me, but it’s true. My love of Mr. Blythe is strictly from the made-for-TV-miniseries.
I’m sure book Gilbert is great and all, but it’s 1980’s miniseries Gilbert that holds my heart to this day. I can’t tell you the number of times I have watched it. (And I certainly won’t tell you the number of times I have watched it on fast forward only viewing the scenes with Gilbert in them, though I will tell you it’s a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.) He has held me enthralled since my first viewing as a kid. From the first time he calls her carrots to his heartbreak at the rejected proposal (Anne, you heartless bitch) I have known he was the perfect man. And even after countless viewings his brush with death still leaves me sobbing (I have never successfully made it through this scene without at least a mini-pack of tissues). Other girls can have their shy brooding Darcy’s and their seriously damaged Heathcliff’s, I’ll take Gilbert Blythe any day.
I have such fond memories of settling in at home after a day at work, a bottle of wine on my coffee table (no wine glass, who needs dirty dishes?) and a bag of popcorn within easy reach. These were the days when Anne of Green Gables never left my DVD player. After each viewing I always promised myself I’d read the series (not just out of a love for Gilbert, but because I feel duty bound as a Canadian). And, while I have yet to fulfill this promise, I do think that being able to quote the miniseries gives me a bit of a pass.
Gilbert’s appeal is especially relevant now in the age of Edward Cullen’s and Christian Grey’s. As appealing it is to have a man who breaks into your home to watch you sleep and who rips out the engine of your truck to stop you from visiting friends, I’d really rather the one who gives up his teaching post so that I can stay at home and look after my aging adopted parent. But hey, that’s just me. Who am I to judge other people’s preferences? (Who am I kidding, I’m definitely judging.)
I can only hope that when I have daughters they grow up knowing the value of a nice man. And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll dig out my pop-up book so they too can get immersed in great Canadian literature.