Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery

277 pages
Published 1921, reprinted 1992
Bantom Book
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, NY

At long last I have finished reading the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery... well unless you consider the recent discovery and publication of The Blythes Are Quoted as the last in the series. But since I cannot get my hands on a copy of that book yet (publication only available in Canada during 2009), I am considering this a finish. I started my "Anne challenge" in the mid fall of 2008. My goal was to read the entire series, something I started in my teen years, but never accomplished. I am so happy to have finally read the series from start to finish!

The Plot:
Anne's children are almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one can resist her bright haze eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can't think of any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside is endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers {and several childhood friends} go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and changes her forever. (Summary courtesy of the publisher)

My Thoughts:
After my mixed thoughts of Rainbow Valley I wasn't entirely sure what I would think of this last book in the Anne series. Already I knew that it wouldn't be about Anne and I was ok with this, but would it be a good read? One to compare with the earlier books in the series? Although it's not really equal to the earlier books in the series I think it was still a very good read.

I definitely missed Avonlea, Diana, Marilla, and even Rachel Lynde. But thankfully there was more Anne and more Gilbert in this book than in its immediate predecessor. Although Rilla of Ingleside is clearly a coming-of-age story about Anne's youngest child, Bertha Marilla a.k.a. Rilla, it does contain a fair amount of stories involving the other Blythe children, turned adults as well as the Merediths (see Rainbow Valley) and Kenneth Ford (Anne of Ingleside). Of course no Anne story is complete without the wonderful variety of quirky and lovable supporting characters and Rilla of Ingleside has plenty of these.

I read somewhere that Rilla of Ingleside is considered a very special book as it is the only Canadian novel written from a woman's perspective and by a contemporary of the First World War. And Rilla of Ingleside is truly a different type of Anne book. Not only is it set during a war, but the whole story itself is much darker than any of the previous books in the series, including death and injury to many beloved characters in the series. But I think the darkness of this book is a necessity because of the time period in which the story is set. While there are aspects of the book that lead me to think Montgomery was glad to be nearing the end of her Anne stories, I think she still managed to write a masterpiece in Rilla of Ingleside. Although it is a darker story, it's not hopeless. Yes, there were times where I found myself near tears, but then the story would pick up with a little vignette of comedy or romance. Throughout the difficult times there are bits of hope, love and laughter woven into Rilla's live and the book, though not a perfect story still ends on a happy note, almost like the morning after a terrible storm.

My one complaint is with the main "romance" of the book and it isn't very much. Perhaps I just took too long between reading Anne of Ingleside and reading Rilla of Ingleside which caused me to forget a lot about Kenneth Ford, but at any rate, I felt that his relationship with Rilla was rather lacking. I realize that Montgomery only had this one book to capture the development of their friendship and eventual romance, where with Anne and Gilbert she had several books, but still... I wish she'd taken time to include a little more details or background.

Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed Rilla of Ingleside. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate Rilla of Ingleside a 4.5 to a 5. I wish I had read this book years ago! The entire Anne of Green Gables series is classic and a must read for all fans of literature. If you've never read the series, or like me never read the entire series I insist you add it to your 2010 reading list. I promise, you won't regret the decision!

Oh, and if I could add another suggestion... Buy rather than borrow the series. It's worth owning!

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
Rilla 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.


Alyce said...

I read the whole series as a teenager, and Rilla of Ingleside is my absolute favorite! I just loved reading about Anne's kids all grown up, and the bittersweet war stories added a nice touch. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it too!

B said...

This was one of my favorites as well. The character of Rilla felt completely unique in comparison to other Avonlea characters, and I loved the way that Montgomery developed her personality.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this book when I first read it. I enjoyed the second time around this year as well, but I think it's not as much as a favorite as it was previously, mainly due to the fact I'm a mom now.

Kelly Sauer said...

I JUST finished the whole series with this book the other night! I didn't know you were still reading them! By the time I got to Rilla's story, I was actually really glad to engage in a plot again. This one was my favorite read of the series this year. I SOOOO wish the Sullivan Company had done their 3rd Anne movie from the real story, rather than retooling the whole thing. I think Rilla's story is so sweetly compelling.

Noël De Vries said...

I think Maud's own depression during the war influenced the tone of Rilla. Though I loved reading the series as a young teenager, I've never gone back and read them again... they touch a deep place.

Sarah M. said...

Alyce, Yes! Bittersweet. That's the word I was searching for last night but it never came to me. :)

Caniad, yes I loved how Rilla's personality blossoms in the book. :)

Dancingbythelight, yeah, I was surprised how much I loved Anne of Ingleside, more so than I expected. Must be the "mom" thing. :)

Kelly, yes. I was really was finishing the series, it just took me a while. I finished it in November, but didn't get the review written until last night. I want to read The Blythes, but it's not available in the US. And yes! I agree with you. Sullivan would have done better to stick to the real books to get a story plot Anne's House of Dreams was much better than the third movie and even if they had skipped ahead to Rilla of Ingleside it would have been better. Oh well. It was very eye opening to see what they stole from Rilla's story for the 3rd movie.

Marie Cloutier said...

I wish I had read all of these as a kid. I only read the first book this year! Sounds so sweet.

Brittanie said...

This is one of my favorite all time series. I have lost count of how many times I have reread them. I really liked the last book too. I am always sad to see series end. I read somewhere that the author never wanted to write grown up Anne books but I am very glad they persuaded her. :)