Friday, December 09, 2016

Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921. 277 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon. In the big living-room at Ingleside Susan Baker sat down with a certain grim satisfaction hovering about her like an aura; it was four o’clock and Susan, who had been working incessantly since six that morning, felt that she had fairly earned an hour of repose and gossip.

Premise/plot: Rilla of Ingleside chronicles "the great war" from the perspective of Rilla Blythe, Anne and Gilbert's youngest child. When the war begins, she's fourteen or so. But she grows up fast, in part because of the war, because of the changes the war brings, how it effects her family and community. And also in part because she takes on more responsibility. She not only does junior red cross work, I believe, but she fosters a 'war baby.' She takes on essentially a newborn baby 'orphaned' by the war. The mother has died. The father is a soldier--who knows where, who may or may not come back. She is to have 'the raising' of the baby to herself. Rilla is especially fond of Walter, her favorite brother, and Ken, the man she hopes to marry one day. The novel provides a behind the scenes glimpse of what daily life was like during the war, during that time period.

My thoughts: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. It's such a solid and strong--and incredibly emotional--finish to a great series.
All cats are mysterious but Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde—”Doc” for short — was trebly so. He was a cat of double personality — or else, as Susan vowed, he was possessed by the devil. To begin with, there had been something uncanny about the very dawn of his existence. 
“The only thing I envy a cat is its purr,” remarked Dr. Blythe once, listening to Doc’s resonant melody. “It is the most contented sound in the world.”
Dog Monday was the Ingleside dog, so called because he had come into the family on a Monday when Walter had been reading Robinson Crusoe. He really belonged to Jem but was much attached to Walter also. He was lying beside Walter now with nose snuggled against his arm, thumping his tail rapturously whenever Walter gave him an absent pat. Monday was not a collie or a setter or a hound or a Newfoundland. He was just, as Jem said, “plain dog” — very plain dog, uncharitable people added. Certainly, Monday’s looks were not his strong point.
“There’s no use thinking about what you’re going to do — you are tolerably sure not to do it.”
The new day is knocking at the window. What will it bring us, I wonder.

“What does it matter if there’s going to be a war over there in Europe? I’m sure it doesn’t concern us.” Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visitations of prophecy. “Before this war is over,” he said — or something said through his lips—”every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it — you, Mary, will feel it — feel it to your heart’s core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come — and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over — years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break.”

“Susan, I keep thinking today of once when he cried for me in the night. He was just a few months old. Gilbert didn’t want me to go to him — he said the child was well and warm and that it would be fostering bad habits in him. But I went — and took him up — I can feel that tight clinging of his little arms round my neck yet. Susan, if I hadn’t gone that night, twenty-one years ago, and taken my baby up when he cried for me I couldn’t face tomorrow morning.”

Nobody missed Dog Monday at first. When they did Shirley went back for him. He found Dog Monday curled up in one of the shipping-sheds near the station and tried to coax him home. Dog Monday would not move. He wagged his tail to show he had no hard feelings but no blandishments availed to budge him. “Guess Monday has made up his mind to wait there till Jem comes back,” said Shirley, trying to laugh as he rejoined the rest.
A baby by day was dreadful enough; a baby by night was unthinkable.
Even the most thoughtful and watchful of parents do not see everything that goes on under their very noses.
I wonder if those of us who have lived half our lives in the old world will ever feel wholly at home in the new.

No matter how much we value what our lessons have brought us we don’t want to go on with the bitter schooling.
“I wonder,” said Miss Oliver, “if humanity will be any happier because of aeroplanes. It seems to me that the sum of human happiness remains much the same from age to age, no matter how it may vary in distribution, and that all the ‘many inventions’ neither lessen nor increase it.”
The job isn’t finished — it isn’t really begun. The old world is destroyed and we must build up the new one. It will be the task of years. 
“Is it Rilla-my-Rilla?” he asked, meaningly. Emotion shook Rilla from head to foot. Joy — happiness — sorrow — fear — every passion that had wrung her heart in those four long years seemed to surge up in her soul for a moment as the deeps of being were stirred. She had tried to speak; at first voice would not come. Then—”Yeth,” said Rilla.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

FictionFan said...

Lovely post - thoroughly enjoyed all those quotes. Thank you! Although I was huge Anne fan in my childhood, for some reason I never read Rilla. I must rectify that omission sometime...