Published 1919, reprinted 1998
by Bantom Books
Harper & Row Publishers, Inc.
New York, NY
At long last I had time to sit down and not only begin reading Rainbow Valley, but time to finish it! Rainbow Valley is the seventh book in the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery, but it isn't really a book about Anne, it's more of a book about her children... and yet it's not entirely about them either.
Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert, and is the mother of six mischievous children. These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream of what will happen when a strange family moves into an old mansion nearby. The Meredith clan is two boys and two girls--and a runaway named Mary Vance. Soon the Merediths join Anne's children in their private hideout, intent on carrying out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There's always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley. (Summary courtesy of the publisher)
I had mixed thoughts going into this book. On the one-hand I was sad to know this story wasn't really about Anne. Although she is present throughout the book and is definitely a part of the story, Rainbow Valley isn't her story and because of this I did find myself missing Anne. I also truly missed Gilbert. For the first time in the series Gilbert only has one line! And although he is mentioned throughout the book he only makes two or three appearances in the story. Alas!
I guess because of this it almost felt to me as if Rainbow Valley was more of a companion story to the Anne of Green Gables series, like the three Deep Valley books are to the Betsy-Tacy series. (The only difference here of course is that Rainbow Valley is one of the Anne books.)
Nevertheless, once I got over this snag I truly enjoyed Rainbow Valley. The adventures of the Blythe and Meredith children are hilariously entertaining. And like all Montgomery stories, this book had it's sweet and it's sad moments. Of course, what Montgomery novel would be complete without a little romance? Rainbow Valley contained two -- one of lost love that gets a second chance and one of unexpected love, both added greatly to the richness of the story. And in the end I found the book to be a sweet, charming and completely delightful read. Not at all boring, which I must admit I was secretly worried it might be.
Another interesting feeling I had while reading Rainbow Valley was the feeling of familiarity. Although this was my first time reading this particular book so much of the story telling felt familiar, as if Montgomery took some of her best character personalities in all their quirkiness, some of the familiar phrases and humor and gave them a fresh twist. Not to say that the story feels recycled, because it doesn't. Just comfortably familiar and I think a pleasant read for any fan of Montgomery's writing.
For those who have read the Anne of Green Gables series and have never given this book a read, you are missing out. Don't focus on the fact that Anne is no longer at the center of the story, enjoy the story for all the other wonderful characters and adventures that are to be found within.
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate Rainbow Valley a 4.5. I really enjoyed it and am sorry I put off reading it for so long. I am glad to own a copy for my own personal library and highly encourage you to check out a copy at your library or find one at your local book store. This Lucy Maud Montgomery book is a must read!
My other L. M.Montgomery reviews:
Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of the Island
Anne of Windy Poplars
Anne's House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
The Blue Castle
And for those interested in reading some or more of L. M. Montgomery's works be sure to check out Reading to Know's L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, which will run in January 2010.