Friday, October 24, 2008

Rilla of Ingleside

Montgomery, L.M. 1921. Rilla of Ingleside.

I will try to dry my eyes long enough to type out a review that couldn't hope to do this book justice. Rilla of Ingleside is the final book in the series of Anne books. The novel is set during World War I. For those that think Anne's life was so rosy and so perfect...just consider that her children came of age just in time for the declaration of war. The novel opens in July of 1914. Within the first few chapters, Anne has seen her firstborn son, Jem, off to war. Before the novel closes, she'll send off two more of her sons: Walter and Shirley.

Rilla of Ingleside isn't Anne's story--though we do get glimpse of the fiftyish year old mother and wife--it is Rilla's through and through. Her youngest child is just a few weeks (or is it a few months?) shy of her fifteenth birthday. Her teen years will be impacted greatly by the war. She'll have to say goodbye to her three brothers, two of her childhood chums (Jerry and Carl) and her almost-sweetheart Kenneth Ford. (Kenneth Ford is the son of Leslie Moore and Owen Ford whose story we were swept away with in Anne's House of Dreams.)

What does Rilla do with her time? She doesn't go away to school (high school and college) like her sisters Nan and Di. No, she'll start a Junior Red Cross society for the younger crowd in the village. But perhaps what changes her as a person (as a soul) is when she adopts a war baby. She quite inadvertently discovers a tragic baby--just a month or so old--whose father is a soldier overseas and whose mother has just died. Too compassionate to send to an orphanage, she takes him home--and does so in style. This baby is carried home in a soup tureen. For four long years, Rilla plays the role of mother. And it does change her...and for the better.

Life on the home front worrying about loved ones far far away is hard. Waiting to hear if they're dead or alive or if they're coming difficult, is life changing. War brings hardship and worry and sorrow and grief and new perspectives on life as well.

The heart and soul of this book--the sentimental details that will pull at your heartstrings is Dog Monday. Jem's dog that stays at the train station all the years while his master is away. The dog that can't be tempted or swayed to leave the spot where he lost saw his Jem. The dog's both Jem....and to not easily forgotten.

Rilla of Ingleside is a fitting end to a wonderful series. Like Anne of Green Gables, it has its bittersweet moments. It's about life--the good, the bad, the ugly, the joyous, the heartbreaking. I think it's only right that both books can bring both tears and smiles.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


John Mutford 5:16 PM  

Wow, I can't believe you just knocked off 6 Montgomery books in a single month. Good for you.

Did you, by the way, ever get around to reading a book for the Obscure Challenge?

Becky 5:39 PM  


*hangs head in shame* No, I never got around to doing that.

Noël De Vries 11:22 AM  

Three cheers! Montgomery is my very very favorite author. So many readers "nowadays" are too modern for her, but Maud will always be my heroine.

Have you read The Blue Castle?

A must.

John Mutford 7:39 PM  

There was never a deadline, Becky. Whenever you get a chance will do just fine ;)

tinylittlelibrarian 1:13 AM  

I am very ashamed that I've never finished this one. I will, someday - not sure why it didn't keep my attention. Not enough Anne, maybe? But you've reminded me about it and I'm glad to hear it's so good - thanks!

Madeleine 4:43 PM  

I hardly spoke to anyone I knew for two days after this book. I got permission from pitying parents to skip school. My mom hugged me in my bed as I bawled for an hour, finally realizing that, while Rilla could take hope from the thought that there's a heaven to... (people who've read it will know what I mean), I cannot, in this case, as I will never know dear Anne. These books impacted my life to the point of know return. And to think I almost didn't read them. I still feel terrible when I encounter the words "Pied Piper" anywhere. Thanks for the review. Only kindred spirits have the opportunity to feel these books, and it's obvious you've felt them. These book have the power to teach... and the power to cheer.

Thanks again for the review! I'm glad I found your site!

Katie Edwards 7:16 AM  

I made the mistake of starting to read this in bed one night. I ended up staying up all night and half of it in tears. This was when I was about 19! I was fit for nothing the following day. I've read it a few times but can't read Walter's last letter with dry eyes.

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