Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne of Windy Poplars. L.M. Montgomery. 1936. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

Anne of Windy Poplars is such a lovely little epistolary novel. Readers are privileged to share in some of Anne's letters to her beloved Gilbert. In these letters there are hundreds (if not thousands) of character sketches sharing details about Anne's life and new experiences as she teaches at a high school in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. (Highlights include Rebecca Dew, "Little Elizabeth" (Grayson), Katherine Brooke, Aunt Chatty and Aunt Kate, Jen Pringle, Mrs. Gibson, Lewis Allen, Teddy Armstrong (Little Fellow), Gerald and Geraldine (the twins she babysits...once), Jarvis Morrow, Dovie Westcott, Miss Minerva Tomgallon, etc.) Some people just get a brief sentence or two, but oh what Montgomery can do with just a few sentences or even a few words! Montgomery, at her very best, can bring more life and humanity to a character than a good many contemporary writers do in an entire novel. Other characters have whole episodes about them. For example, readers really get to spend some time with Katherine Brooke! One of my favorite episodes--if episode is the right word--is Anne and Lewis out canvassing for subscriptions to the drama club. They meet a "little fellow" named Teddy Armstrong. That story just gets me every single time! Montgomery can bring me to near tears and yet not feel manipulative. How does she do that?!

Have you read Anne of Windy Poplars? How do you think it fits in with the rest of the series? Do you have a favorite character?

Favorite quotes:
I have a scratchy pen and I can't write love-letters with a scratchy pen...or a sharp pen...or a stub pen. So you'll only get that kind of letter from me when I have exactly the right kind of pen. 
You know I've always been one to whom adventures come unsought. I just seem to attract them, as it were.  
School begins tomorrow. I shall have to teach geometry! Surely that can't be any worse than learning it. 
Isn't it queer that the things we writhe over at night are seldom wicked things? Just humiliating ones.
I don't like reading about martyrs because they always make me feel petty and ashamed...ashamed to admit I hate to get out of bed on frosty mornings and shrink from a visit to the dentist!
Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old.
I said drenched and I mean drenched.
Oh, no, babies are never common," said Anne, bringing a bowl of water for Mrs. Gibson's roses. "Every one is a miracle."
It seems so strange to read over the stories of those old wars...things that can never happen again. I don't suppose any of us will ever have more than an academic interest in 'battles long ago.' It's impossible to think of Canada ever being at war again. I am so thankful that phase of history is over. 
Nobody is ever too old to wear just what she wants to wear. You wouldn't want to wear it if you were too old. 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

One of these days I really must reread this series. I have them all and say that every year, I swear!

JaneGS said...

When was young and an ardent Anne fan, I skipped over Windy Poplars because of the epistolary format. I just assumed it wouldn't work. Boy, was I wrong. When I finally made myself read WP so that I could say that I had I discovered that I loved it. It's actually one of my favorite Anne books. I like Anne on her own--not in Avonlea, not in college, not with Gilbert--but figuring out life on her own. I need to reread this! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Carol in Oregon said...

I read through most of L.M. Montgomery this summer and I enjoyed something special about each book.

You are so right: the Teddy Armstrong story make me all throat-lumpy.

I would have a hard time designating one title as my favorite. It's usually the one I'm currently reading!