Friday, April 10, 2009

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery

This may sound strange, but while re-reading Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery I was reminded of a sweater I bought in Hawaii... Before my daughter was born, my husband and I took a "5th wedding anniversary" trip to Hawaii. While we were there I found a beautiful cashmere sweater on sale for a really great price at one of my favorite stores. (I know! They sell sweaters in Hawaii???) Anyway, I couldn't wear the sweater at the time because a) I was 7 months pregnant and b) it was too warm outside; so I set the sweater aside to put on post-baby when the weather was cooler. The first time I pulled that sweater out I got a faint whiff of that brand-new-store-bought sweater smell. Immediately I was immersed in a wave of wonderful memories from our trip to Hawaii.

THAT same thing happened when I opened Anne of Windy Poplars (or any Anne book for that matter). I read Anne of Green Gables through Anne's House of Dreams when I was a teenager, and for the last several days as I re-read Anne of Windy Poplars I was immersed in wave after wave of faint, but sweet memories from my high-school years. Cozy winter evenings or sweet summer afternoons when I was free do whatever I like... such as read a book without interuption. Like remembering our trip to Hawaii every time I wear that sweater, reading an Anne book always makes me smile as I remember the "good-ol' days" of childhood.

The novel, Anne of Windy Poplars, picks up where Anne of the Island left off -- Anne and Gilbert are engaged, Anne has graduated with a B.A. from Redmond college, and she is to teach at a private school in Summerside, PEI for the three years that Gilbert is in medical school. While there are some third-person accounts of Anne and her adventures (as most of the novels are written in), the majority of this novel consists of letters that Anne writes to Gilbert during the three years she is teaching in Summerside. The letters are fun to read because they don't read like letters. Anne's letters are more like an ongoing conversation that allow you to hear the conversations or see the adventures (and in some cases the misadventures) as if you were present when they happened. There are some great little stories within this novel, some even made me laugh out loud, resulting in me having to share them with my husband... A true sign of a good read.

The only thing I missed was getting to see Gilbert and Anne's courtship-engagement play out, as you never get to read the love letters, nor Gilbert's responses. And yes, I did miss Gilbert's presence, but never-the-less Anne of Windy Poplars is a delightful and delicious addition to the Anne series.

Fans of the Kevin Sullivan produced Anne movies will recognize many characters and happenings in this book from the Anne of Avonlea movie, although not all are identical. (The movie compiled characters, conversations, and events from Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars.) For example, the character Emmaline in the movie is really Elizabeth in the book Windy Poplars book. While Pauline is Emmaline's aunt in the movie, she is of no relation to Elizabeth in the book, but her experiences are much the same as the movie. Also interesting is that Anne's conversation with Diana just before Di's wedding (the one where Anne talks about becoming a nun or working as a red cross nurse and stroking a feverish brow of a handsome millionaire) are actually said TO Anne by the stary-eyed Hazel More. But don't let these changes stop you from reading the book or watching the movie. They are each enjoyable in their own way and fans of one, should easily enjoy the other.

As I am slowly collecting the series I chose to purchase a copy of Anne of Windy Poplars for my own library... I just wish it didn't have to be one of the mass-market paper backs. (Yuck!) On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent, I would rate Anne of Windy Poplars a 4.5. I really enjoyed this book. It isn't the best of the Anne books, but it is a great read and not to be missed.

Note. Anne of Windy Poplars was adapted to the big screen in 1940, I'm curious to know if it was any good. Has anyone seen it?


Carrie said...

Ahhhh yes, I've been grabbing all the comfort reads around on my shelves the past few days. Anne has been a frequent consideration! I feel like nestling in some sweet old memories.

Anonymous said...

I think I did see that film adaptation you mention, but honestly, can't remember it well enough to comment.

I read this book at the end of last year and loved it. Like you, I've been reading them as "comfort" between heavier tomes. :)

Kristi said...

I remember taking a book everywhere with me when I was a child/teenager - especially if I went with my mom while she went to "coffee" with her friends. (Do people still do that?) I have never read the Anne books though, but they are on my list!

Amy said...

I enjoyed reading your review. It would be so hard for me to pick which of the Anne books I love this most. However, I know just what you mean about this book bringing back so many memories of where you were in life when you first read it. I remember distinctly sitting in the cafeteria at school and subjecting my friends to a read-aloud of THE LETTER in Rilla of Ingleside. : )