Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

This is an ebook that I received from Amazon for my Kindle app on my iPhone. It is the Anne of Green Gables Collection, including most of the books in the series, from Doma Publishing.

I finished the first book of the series, Anne of Green Gables, today, Aug. 3, 2016. An old-fashioned children's book, but this 70 year old grandmother found it absolutely delightful!

Eleven year old Anne Shirley came to the home of Matthew and Matilda Cuthbert, a middle aged brother and sister, a bachelor and a spinster inexperienced in the care of children. They had intended to adopt a boy from the orphanage, to help Matthew with the farm chores. A mistake was made, and they ended up with a precocious, imaginative, chatterbox girl instead.
Neither has the heart to send her away, and soon come to love her as their own. Anne grows up to be a kind and thoughtful and very smart young lady. As the book ends, she has finished school plus one year of teacher's training, with a scholarship to a four year college.

Finished the second book, Anne of Avonlea, today, Aug. 10, 2016. A continuation of Anne's life in Avonlea, as a school teacher, still living at Green Gables with Marilla (Matthew has passed away). They take in a distant relative's orphaned children, six-year-old twins who prove quite a handful! Anne succeeds in teaching the one room school and is involved in the village improvement society.

Third book: Anne of the Island, August 20, 2016
This one is about Anne's four years in college, Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Some of her school friends from Avonlea join her, and the girls decide to rent a house together beginning in their second year. The aunt of one of the girls serves as housekeeper/chaperone/confidante, and a new friend joins them as well. The years pass quickly and for the most part happily. Several of Anne's friends are getting married, but Anne has not yet made a commitment, though not for lack of offers.

I had to buy another series of Anne Shirley books, an 8-book series, as the first 12-book series did not include Anne of Windy Poplars nor Anne of Ingleside.

Fourth book: Anne of Windy Poplars continues the story of Anne. She is engaged, and has accepted the position of Principal of the school at Summerside while she waits for her fiancé to finish medical school so they can be married. Anne's sweet disposition and usual cheerful nature assure her happiness wherever she finds herself. Although she is a little homesick for Avonlea and Green Gables, she makes the most of her time in Summerside, making new friends and winning over potential enemies.

Fifth book: Anne's House of Dreams
Anne marries Gilbert Blythe, her old school "friendly enemy" who became more than in a friend in college and after graduation. They settle in a cute and beloved little cottage by the sea near Glen St. Mary, where Gilbert begins medical practice with his uncle. They meet several new friends: Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia, and Leslie among them, and their first child is born, a little girl they name Joyce, called Joy. Sadly, little Joy fails to thrive, and dies days after her birth.
Leslie's story is mysterious and intriguing, with a surprising development that leads to happiness for her after all. Captain Jim's memoirs of seafaring life are made into a best selling book, and their housekeeper Susan become a beloved part of the family and a confidant.

Sixth book: Anne of Ingleside

Anne and Gilbert had to leave their dear little honeymoon cottage, their "House of Dreams" for a larger house, called "Ingleside", as their growing family needs more room. There are six living children: Jem (James Matthew), Walter, twins Nan and Di (Anne and Diana), Shirley (a boy), and baby Rilla (Marilla). Gilbert's relative, Aunt Mary Maria has joined the household as well. Anne experiences some stresses and challenges, but of course manages to overcome them, eventually.

Seventh book: Rainbow Valley

After a period of insecurity on Anne's part leading to physical illness, and after her recovery, the Blythes take a sort of "second honeymoon" trip to London. This book begins upon their return home. The Presbyterian church has a new pastor, John Meredith, a widowed father of four. He loves his children, but distracted by his grief and immersed in theology and study of Scripture, he fails to notice their problems. His elderly Aunt Martha is housekeeper and "nanny" but is not very efficient at either. The children's behavior and the state of the manse (parsonage) become a topic of gossip in the village, but the Blythes see the goodness in them. They are smart, clever, and good-natured children. The Blythe children and the Meredith children spend many happy hours playing in "Rainbow Valley" between their homes. During one of their escapades, the children discover a runaway orphan girl, cold and hungry in a neighbor's barn. They take her in and eventually find her a good home with Miss Cornelia (now Mrs. Elliott).

Eighth book: Rilla of Ingleside

This is the last of the Anne of Green Gables series. I finished it September 17, 2016. As the title suggests, this book focuses mainly on the youngest of Anne and Gilbert's children, Bertha Marilla, called Rilla. At the beginning, Rilla is not a very likable character. She has been petted and spoiled all her life, and it shows. She refuses to continue school after high school, and doesn't want to do anything useful. She only wants to socialize and go to parties.
However, at the end of a party in August, 1914, someone runs in shouting the announcement "England has declared war!" As a British dominion, Canada was brought into the war at that point. As the older sons of the Blythe and Meredith families enlist, everything changes. Anne and Rilla become active in the Canadian Red Cross, and Rilla starts a junior Red Cross chapter. Rilla begins to grow up, accepting her duties responsibly. A surprising addition to the family is an underweight newborn "war orphan." Rilla finds him while she goes house-to-house soliciting donations for the war effort. The two-week old infant's mother has just died, and his only caretaker is an alcoholic woman who is paying no attention to his screams. The child's father is off to war. Rilla doesn't like babies at all, but she realizes that she cannot leave the child there. She brings him home in a large soup tureen, the only container she can find in the house that the baby can fit in for the ride in a horse-drawn wagon. Responsibility for the baby is all Rilla's, as her mother and Susan are busy with the household and Red Cross. With the help of a book on child care, she succeeds in keeping little "Jims" healthy and thriving.
Another heart-breaking episode is the saga of Jem's dog, Dog Monday. When Jem and his brothers and friends go off to war, Dog Monday accompanies them to the railway station, but adamantly refuses to come home with the family who has gone to see them off. When they bring him anyway, he is loudly miserable and they let him return. Dog Monday stays at the railway station in a box made for him, enthusiastically greeting each train, then sadly returning to his box for the duration of the war, until Jem returns home.
Unlike the others in the series, this book was of a darker tone. After all, the world was at war, and it was a very serious and dreary time for everyone who lived through it.

I learned this from the Wikipedia article: "Rilla of Ingleside is the only Canadian novel written from a woman's perspective about the First World War by a contemporary.[1] The novel is also groundbreaking as it is one of the first non-Australian texts to mention the Gallipoli campaign and the sacrifice made by the ANZACs." (Rubio, Jen (2015). Introduction to Rilla of Ingleside, annotated edition. Oakville, ON: Rock's Mills Press. pp. vii – x. ISBN 9780988129382)

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