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Green Gables Readalong #6: Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

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InglesideThere’s never a dull moment for busy, bustling Anne, who’s now the mother of five children and has a sixth one on the way. With her visiting aunt, the insufferable Mary Maria, also in the mix–and soon wearing out her welcome–Anne’s life is a constant whirl.
But despite the endless demands on her time, Anne can’t think of any place she’d rather be than her beloved Ingleside. At least not until the day she begins to imagine that her cherished Gilbert doesn’t love her anymore. Could it possibly be true? She’s a little older, maybe, but in her heart she knows she’s still the same fiery redhead who came to Green Gables all those years ago. She hasn’t changed, but has he?
Never one to go down without a fight, the irrepressible, indomitable Anne sets out to make her husband fall in love with her all over again.

Please note: this is the sixth in the Anne of Green Gables series to be discussed on this blog. If you missed the previous instalments, please click here to catch up. 

Book six of the series – who would have thought we’d make it this far??? At the start of this book, Anne is back at Green Gables, about to visit Diana and traipse through old haunts. The big difference is that Anne is now the mother of six (if you count poor Joy – and I do) and soon to be seven. Diana has her young ‘uns as well, and they are well-established women of their respective communities. Anne’s visit is a fleeting one, and while it’s lovely to catch up with Diana, I’ve always wished that there was more time with Marilla in the later books.

While it is not the last book in the series, it was written twenty years after the others; like Anne of Windy Poplars, this instalment is more a gathering of vignettes rather than a fully fledged story arc. I found that this book gave a lot of hints about what would happen to Anne’s children in Rilla of Ingleside – a case of ‘a little knowledge being a dangerous thing’ at times, especially in regards to certain of Anne’s offspring. There is a definite shift in the narrative in this book, as we move away from Anne as the protagonist and more to the views of her children – something that will become much more clearly defined in Rainbow Valley and finally in Rilla of Ingleside, where Anne’s daughter will take centre stage.  Everyone seems to get a story this time around, except for poor Shirley (why is that?), and we begin to see shades of Anne and Gilbert in their offspring. It hadn’t struck me before, but each of the stories has something to do with disillusionment in some way – Jem is left bereft after the loss of a number of dogs, Di and Nan each experience a duplicitous best friend, etc. Between that and the horror that is Aunt Mary Maria, there’s a lot of drama in the Ingleside household!

There are glimpses of the Anne we know and love, but they are tempered by motherhood. I was glad that the final chapter was reserved for Anne and Gilbert, and the doubts that creep into a relationship after so many years together. Anne’s inner monologue highlights all her old insecurities, showing that, despite the years, she is still sometimes that young girl who simply wants to be loved. In the end, however, their partnership and love is reassured and Gilbert offers Anne the chance for a real holiday in Europe together (even if it is at a medical congress).

It’s definitely a book to highlight the changes in Anne’s life, and to show just how much a member of the family Susan Baker has become – I like that Anne doesn’t have class distinctions in her home, and that she values Susan for the comfort she can give to the children and the home. I missed hearing more about some of our beloved characters from the past, but pop-ins by Mrs. Marshall Elliott and Leslie were welcome grace notes. This is definitely a book for the Anne fan, as there is much in here that references previous books; I’m not entirely sure that it would stand alone.

Finally, a note about the cover. Once again, we have a gorgeous interpretation by Elly McKay, this time with gardens that Anne loves so much and her children popping up out of them just like flowering plants. I love the warmth and family spirit in this cover, and how it leads us into Rainbow Valley.

“They were all growing so fast. In just a few short years they would be all young men and women…youth tiptoe…expectant…a-star with its sweet wild dreams…little ships sailing out of safe harbor to unknown ports. The boys would go away to their life work and the girls…ah, the mist-veiled forms of beautiful brides might be seen coming down the old stairs at Ingleside. But they would still be hers for a few years yet…hers to love and guide…to sing the songs that so many mothers had sung…Hers…and Gilbert’s.”

Did you read Anne of Ingleside? Are you joining the read along? Join Lindsey at Reeder Reads and the rest of us as we read (or re-read) the Anne series over the first eight months of the year.

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2 Responses »

  1. The new covers by Elly McKay are really beautiful. I haven’t caught up with Anne of Ingleside yet and I was interested in your observation that it’s a collection of vignettes, like Anne of Windy Poplars. Your point about disillusionment as a common theme makes me wonder if that same idea continues in Rainbow Valley. It’s been so long since I last read these later books in the series. “The boys would go away to their life work and the girls….” I can’t help wishing the girls could go away to their life work as well.

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  2. Love your quote at the end. That is so very true. It seems so long while you’re raising children and really it’s quite a short time overall. I loved to see Anne become a bit disillusioned with their marriage and relationship. That is so normal, I think! And isn’t that Gilbert a dream? I love that man myself! 🙂

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