I belong to a Facebook group that is reading L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series this year. This group of complete strangers has found common ground thanks to a collection of books that are about a century old. Anne would call us Kindred Spirits.
Reading Anne and other Montgomery books was just a part of my childhood. I have most of her work in paperbacks collected as a kid many, many, many years ago. When I was a little a older, Megan Follows gave new life to Anne in the Kevin Sullivan productions. The red headed heroine and her beau Gilbert Blythe will always hold a special place in my heart.
I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming reacquainted with the books, this time reading with the perspective of an adult. This time around I loved the first three books in the series but found a stumbling block in Anne of Windy Poplars. I remember not loving that book as a kid but, in the year 2018, found it positively tedious.
This month we read Anne’s House of Dreams and it was even better than I remembered. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t found my own happy ending and still have a shred of optimism left in my heart, making me happy for my childhood friend as she finally gets her happily ever after.
In this book, the insight we gain into her relationship with Gilbert is lovely. He is more present in this book than in the others and we can better understand just how much they love each other. To see them married, to read rich descriptions of their “house of dreams” and to see their family grow is heart warming. The writing is so rich I was positively heartbroken when their little Joy died.
The characters we meet in this book – Leslie, Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia – all bring a sense of newness and yet a feeling of familiarity to the world of our Anne Girl. They are complex and loveable, relatable and a joy to read.
I really appreciated the contrast between Anne’s house of dreams and Leslie’s house of nightmares and celebrated as Leslie broke free of her unhappy life. While painful, it is interesting seeing a grown-up Anne tackle issues of grief.
Rather than tell you more about what I think of this book, I would like to share a few of my favorite passages that I hope you will enjoy as well.
“I love to smell flowers in the dark,” she said. “You get hold of their soul then.”
“How glad Matthew would be tomorrow if he were here,” she whispered. “But I believe he does know and is glad of it – somewhere else. I’ve read somewhere that ‘our dead are never dead until we have forgotten them.’ Matthew will never be dead to me, for I can never forget him.”
“At sunset the little soul that had come with the dawning went away, leaving heartbreak behind it.”
“Marilla, Anne has sent me to tell you that a certain young gentleman has arrived here. He hasn’t brought much luggage with him, but he evidently means to stay.”
“But it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun-carpeted stairs that September noon – the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her – if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood – then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.”
“The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only — a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels.”
If you haven’t yet guessed, this book is filled with favorite passages. At some point in the third or fourth chapter I realized it was important to slow down and savor the story and the writing. This book must be Montgomery’s masterpiece simply because I can’t imagine anything being better than this.
What’s your favorite Anne book?