Anne of Green Gables is the story of a young orphan girl, Anne, who is mistakenly delivered to an older couple looking to adopt a boy to work on their farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. After the couple meets Anne, they decide to keep her. Anne soon makes her home on the farm (called Green Gables), and her spirited nature charms the couple, who begin to see her as a daughter.
Anne struggles to adapt to life in Avonlea and often finds herself in conflict with her adoptive mother and other local women, as she has trouble acting like a “proper lady” and abiding by standard rules of etiquette and social expectations. For example, she shouts at one of her neighbors, Mrs. Rachel Lynde, after she is mocked about her red hair.
Anne is known for her vivid imagination, melodrama, and romanticism, often making up extravagant stories and scenarios. Before arriving in Avonlea, Anne invented imaginary friends to play with. She later becomes close friends with her neighbor, Diana, and begins to attend school in Avonlea. After accidentally serving Diana wine instead of raspberry juice, Diana's mother refuses to let the girls see each other, which is very upsetting for Anne. However, Anne soon redeems herself by saving Diana's sister, who is unwell with the croup.
Anne has a fair share of conflict with other classmates as well, including her ongoing conflict with Gilbert, a classmate who makes fun of Anne’s red hair, causing her to lash out. As they are both the smartest pupils at school, they develop a rivalry in the classroom.
Anne and Gilbert’s intelligence lands them each a place at the prestigious Queen’s Academy, and the two develop a more friendly relationship despite the persisting rivalry between them. While attending the academy, Anne puts excellent effort into her studies and earns the Avery Scholarship, awarding her money to fund her tuition for a four-year college, should she choose to enroll in the fall. However, Anne’s adoptive father (Matthew) dies of a heart attack, and her adoptive mother, Marilla, is losing her eyesight and likely to go blind. Instead of attending a four-year college and earning her degree, Anne chooses to remain at Green Gables and help Marilla manage the farm.
After hearing of Anne’s situation, Gilbert sacrifices his job as a teacher at the Avonlea school so that Anne may teach there while remaining close to Marilla and to Green Gables. Anne and Gilbert become close friends and Anne looks forward to her future, despite the obstacles she has had and will have to overcome.