Thursday, May 28, 2009

Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

227 pages
Bantom Classic Books, 1992
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, NY

This was my second reading of Anne's House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I read through the first five books in the Anne series as a teenager, but never further. Last fall I picked up the series again this time determined to read my way through to the very end, Rilla of Ingleside.

Published in 1917, Anne's House of Dreams opens in the weeks leading up to Anne and Gilbert's wedding and then proceeds through the first two years of their marriage and life in their new home, Anne's very own house of dreams. It is a beautiful story with some of Montgomery's best island imagery. Reading a book by L. M. Montgomery will make any reader feel as though they've lived for a time on P.E.I. -- or at least that they MUST visit it.

In my opinion Anne's House of Dreams is the perfect finale of Anne focused books. From Anne of Ingleside to Rill of Ingleside the story focuses more on Anne's family than on Anne's adventures and dreams or "coming-of-age". Not to say they aren't good, I've heard they are wonderful, but I did feel a little sad as I closed Anne's House of Dreams. Anne is no longer a starry-eyed girl with a wild imagination. I'm nearing the end of the series!

I think Anne's House of Dreams is one of my two favorite novels in the Anne series. I just love getting to eavesdrop on Gilbert and Anne's relationship (something I missed as it was very one-sided in the letter form of Anne of Windy Poplars). And then there are the comical and endearing characters including Miss Cornelia, Captain Jim, Leslie, Susan, and Owen with their own assortment of drama and adventures. Which helped to make up for the lack of beloved Green Gables/Avonlea characters.

I bought my copy of Anne's House of Dreams, as I am slowly collecting the entire series for my personal library. I definitely encourage readers who have never read the Anne books (or in a long while) to take some time to read through the series. The books are not difficult to read (i.e. they are easy to follow, understand, etc.), they are very sweet and entertaining stories, are relatively short (less than 300 pages), and are easy to access (almost every public library has the series in paperback, some also in audio book format).

Anne's House of Dreams is a comfort read for me. It made me want to snuggle down in by a crackling fire in a little cottage by the sea, just like Anne and Gilbert. It made me wish for a simpler, slower paced life...but then I'd remember all the conveniences we have in the 21st century and feel maybe I wasn't so wishful after all. One thing is certain, life was so different 100 years ago.

On a scale of one to five, one being horrible an five being excellent I would rate Anne's House of Dreams a 4.5 to 5. I loved this book. I look forward to reading the next in the series, Anne of Ingleside, especially since I have yet to read it.

As a side note, I know many fans of the Anne books have seen the atrocity that Kevin Sullivan called Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. I saw his adaptation (a.k.a. Anne of Green Gables overhaul and re-write) when it first aired on TV and I cannot tell you how disappointed I was with the story as a whole. It robbed the viewer of the best scenes, the best characters, of the real Gilbert and Anne. Take their wedding. I mean, all that build-up, all that waiting... and Anne and Gilbert's wedding is over in 10 seconds and nothing like in the book. I was shocked and annoyed. Well, all I can say is skip the movie, it's a waste of time. Montgomery's version of the wedding, of Anne and Gilbert's relationship and life together as laid out in Anne's House of Dreams is exactly as the reader hopes it to be. Which makes sense, as after all she did create the characters.


Discipula said...

Reminds me of the t-shirt Abby got Josh for Christmas:

Movies - ruining the book since 1930. :)

Great review of a marvelous book. Montgomery's characters in Ingleside and following just get better and better! I think I've read the series about six or seven times. Grace is on her second reading - I read them aloud to her the first time.

Don't you love the literature allusions too? As I am becoming a better reader of the classics, I appreciate just what a fine mind Montgomery had.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Kevin Sullivan's adaptation, or lack there of. Why did he think he could improve on L. M. Montgomery's story of what happens to Anne and Gilbert? Beats me!

Alyce said...

I agree with you about the continuing story. It didn't make sense to change the plot so much - I mean why mess with something that so many people love.

I love all of the Anne books, but my favorites are the first two, then Anne's House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside.

Framed said...

Great review. The first will always be my favorite. I've read it so many times. But it's been a while since I read the others. I'm hoping to remedy that with the next Canadian Challenge. Your review just made all the more excited to revisit the island.