Monday, July 7, 2014

Anne of Ingleside - L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Ingleside
How can you not love dear, sweet Anne? 

If you've been around the blog for long at all, you know I've been rereading this delightful series by L. M. Montgomery. I read them all as a child, but have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Prince Edward Island and the wonderful "Anne-girl."

Most people are at least mildly familiar with Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, the first two books in the series, if only because of the 1980s movie adaptations. The later books, however, document Anne's life beyond Avonlea. Anne of Ingleside is book six of eight. 

When we meet up again with Anne, several years have passed since she and Gilbert left their house of dreams. They now live in a large home they have dubbed Ingleside with their growing gaggle of children. Since Jem's birth in book five, the Blythes have added Walter, twins Diana and Anne ("Nan") and Shirley. Not long into this novel, Anne delivers Bertha Marilla ("Rilla") into the world. I was, once again, struck by how Montgomery never actually references pregnancy and only alludes to Anne's expectant condition. 

Like the early books, Anne of Ingleside returns to a format more akin to a series of vignettes or short stories than one cohesive novel. In the novel, nearly every Blythe family member has a story or two where they shine. Gilbert and youngest son Shirley are, oddly, left out. In fact, Gilbert factors very little into the plot lines outside of mentions of his doctoring work. 

Anne herself is beginning to fade into the background at this point in the series as well. Her children have begun to assume the spotlight and much of the book shares stories of their lives and adventures. I am not opposed to this, as it seems one of several possible natural progressions for the series. Still, rare is the reader who would turn down more of Anne, having come so far on this journey with her already. 

Time moves very quickly in this installment, even more quickly than in its predecessors. It seems that Montgomery continually sped up her timelines as she continued along. In some ways, that literary decision feels a bit life like. Everything passes with increasing speed as we age and, it seems, for Anne, there is no exception.

Some readers complain that the Anne in these later books bears little resemblance to the young Anne. For me, though, it feels as though Anne is an old friend with whom I have grown older. Perhaps I feel that way because now I, too, am older and can relate to her better. I do remember being bored by these later books as a child. 

I am feeling tentative, but optimistic about the last two books. (You have to be optimistic, after all - it's Anne!) I know that Ingleside is the last book in the series that features much of Anne at all. From here on out, the focus rests solidly on her children, with her presence merely a background addition. At least I am going into the final books knowing this, though, and am prepared for it. I do not have unrealistic expectations and so hopefully will be able to enjoy them.

For me, this series is uniquely comforting. I am not certain if that feeling stems from a connection to my childhood or Montgomery's writing style. A bit of both, I imagine. I likely would feel the same about the Little House on the Prairie series, should I ever revisit it. Whatever the cause, I love the conclusion. I feel happy and content - always a good way to leave a book.

Oh, and I always finish with a renewed strong desire to visit Canada. Needless to say, Kevin is tired of me reading this series and subsequently trying to plan a train trip across eastern Canada.

Pages: 274
Date Completed: June 3, 2014

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