Rilla of Ingleside

Monday, August 6, 2012


Rilla of Ingleside
by L.M. Montgomery
★★★★★

This is the eighth and final book in the Anne of Green Gables series. I’ve slowly been working my way through the series and in the last couple books I really missed having Anne as one of the main characters. In this installment Anne’s youngest daughter, Rilla takes center stage and the book got back to the heart of the first few books. It embraced all of my favorite elements from the early books.

It’s a bit more serious than the previous books. The characters are forced to deal with the realities of war and the loss of their quiet lives as their sons and sweethearts are sent off to fight in World War I. It deals with big issues, but offers perspective and hope along with the drama. The book was published shortly after WWI ended, so the trauma everyone had experienced must have been very fresh in Montgomery’s mind as she wrote this.

The characters see firsthand how painful war is as they watch the men in the community leave to fight in battles on another continent. Some of the men feel the need to leave immediately and join the fight; others struggle with a desire to serve their country while wanting peace. The women are left to take care of the homes alone. They all believe the war will be over soon and begin to loose hope as months stretch into years.

We see the hurried wedding of a war bride and the fate of an orphaned baby whose father is at the front and whose mother dies in childbirth. Rilla takes care of the war baby and she has to go from being an innocent teenager to a woman over the course of the war. We also see Rilla and her mother, our beloved Anne, stretched to the point of breaking as they fight their own fear and grief.

SPOILERS

When Walter died my heart broke. Rilla’s brother was the person she was closest to in the whole world. My own brother is one of my best friends and the thought of losing him in a war is terrifying. Walter’s last letter to Rilla will stay with me for years to come. His words about the power of sacrifice and being at peace with death are more beautiful than I can explain.

SPOILERS OVER

BOTTOM LINE: I love this series so much and this book is now among my favorites. It was a fitting ending to the saga and I look forward to re-reading the whole series in the future.
 
“It is a strange thing to read a letter after the writer is dead, a bittersweet thing in which pain and comfort are strangely mingled.”

“Ah yes, you’re young enough not to be scared of perfect things.”

14 comments:

Anne said...

I love these book so much too, I have been thinking about rereading all of them soon, it has been a while since I read them. I never get tired of reading about Anne and her many adventures!

Care said...

I have only read the very first and it was a wonderful experience. I totally missed these as a kid. (I really wish I had a list of all the books I read growing up...)

annieb said...

I have read the first four but never have gotten to the last four. My mother read these books before me and as a matter of fact, I was named after Anne with an "e." It was always my mother's favorite name. These days I am usually called Annie--my mother would be appalled. She hated nicknames generally, and specifically, she hated that one. The name Ann without the "e" always looks naked to me and I figure whoever used that spelling had not read the books. Those books have definitely stood the test of time.

Bookworm1858 said...

Yes, yes, and yes. This is probably my second favorite of the books (after the first) because it brought back the focus on to just one person in Anne's family as well as being extremely emotional and painful due to WWI.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Anne - I loved rereading them as an adult. It was a completely different experience.

Care - You should read some more of the series, they're wonderful!

annieb - When I was little I thought I had read them all, but I think I just read the first four. It was great to read the complete series. I love that you were named after her!

Bookworm1858 - Exactly! The later books, 6 and 7, weren't my favorite, but this one really got back to the best parts of the series.

Carrie K. said...

My best friend got me a book called The Blythes are Quoted for Christmas - it was a final manuscript that Montgomery wrote, that was only published in full in 2009. It's supposed to be a companion book to Rilla of Ingleside, and made up of letters, poems, and stories. I've been rereading the series this year to remind myself before I read it. :)

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I also must re-read these at some point close in time. I also really loved Rilla. My only problem with it (and all the books after Anne gets married) is that Anne herself becomes a shadow of her bright self. As if marriage softness her up to a point of blandness.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Carrie K. - I heard about that book! I put it on my Paperbackswap wishlist in 2009, but I'm still #20-something out of 58. Maybe I'll just have to buy it.

Alex - I agree with that. There were times in the later books when I just missed Anne so much!

Mumsy said...

I agree - this is certainly the strongest of the later books, although I also liked Anne of Windy Poplars (probably because I find Gilbert boring.) I thought it was rather sad how intense the reaction to WWI was - when I remembered that just a generation later, a far worse war was coming. But I suppose losing the person you love most is just as devastating - it doesn't matter whether hundreds or thousands died with them.

Also, I know it's sentimental, but Little Dog Monday was awfully sweet.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mumsy - You find Gilbert boring! That's hilarious. I always love the moments with them together. It is heartbreaking to think about the reaction to WWI and you don't read many fiction books that talk about it for that exact reason, WWII came so quickly on its heels and it seems to get all the good stories. But she wrote this before WWII was even an idea and it's easy to see how this war would seem like the end of the world.

Little Dog Monday was one of my favorite parts! It was Hachi before Hachi existed!

Erica said...

Your review shows me I need to re-read this! I love the first three Anne books, but I usually lose interest before I get past the fifth one and taper off.

You might also be interested in "The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery"--there are five volumes, from when she was a young woman until her death, and her diaries are fascinating (and heartbreaking). They give a lot of insight into her life and the Anne books as well.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Erica - Even if you skip # 6 and 7, you should definitely read Rilla. It's so much like the earlier books. I'll have to check out the journals, I hadn't heard of those!

carlychatter said...

This was by far the best book in the series, written when LMM had honed her craft. She was able to use a totally different character as a POV, and create a new story not meant only as a sequel. It does not have the delight and freshness of Anne Green Gables, but is much better written. It also provides a glimpse of what the Great War was like at home.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

carlychatter - I completely agree. The series had grown a bit stale for me and this one was a breath of fresh air.