2011: 73. Rilla of Ingleside

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"It was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon."

Rilla of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery

        I feel like I have talked about my issues with this book before, but since my archives are still mostly off-line, I might as well tell this again.  As you may have gathered from reading my recent reviews, I am of the opinion that Rilla is one of Montgomery's best books - maybe even the best Anne book (well, no, that is Island.  Or Green Gables.  Oh, why are you making me choose between my loves?).  But this is a new opinion.  Despite the fact that I have read the Anne series countless times, have worn my copies down so they are held together by scotch tape which itself has worn out because I taped them so long ago, this re-read project was, I think, the second time I've ever read Rilla of Ingleside.  Maybe the third.  You can tell, too by looking at my books.  While the others are foxed and taped and wrinkled, Rilla is practically pristine.  

      So, why would an Anne freak, who read her books to pieced (even Pat of Silverbush! and Mistress Pat!) not read Rilla? The reason, duh, is Walter.  Yup, I fell hard for old dreamy poetic Walter Blythe, and when (SPOILERS AHOY) he died in Flanders, I just about had a heart attack. In retrospect, of course, it was obvious - there was a lot of heavy handed foreshadowing, but, don't forget, I first read these books when I was in third or fourth grade.  And it killed me.  Like, so much that I didn't re-read Rilla, because it made my stomach hurt to do so.  So much that I (and OOLQoB) rewrote the ending where he came back, alive (just a prisoner! that could happen, right? fifth grade fan fic forever).  So much that even now, at thirty-three years old, I had a moments pause before I read the book.

       But I am glad I did! Because it is really, really good.  You know (or you will if I ever get my archives updated), that I am a sucker for World War One books, for a number of reasons - my great-grandfather fought in the War, and lived to be 102, so I knew someone personally who had been in the trenches; because of that my dad has a sentimental interest in the war, and has taken me to the battlefields; and, if I am to be honest, this book, that hit me at a formative point in my life.  The point is, I am particularly susceptible to stories arising from that tragic, horrid, futile war.  So, this book, which takes place on the Canadian homefront during the war, is perfect, just from a historical perspective.

        But on top of that we get Rilla, who starts out the book as a flibbertigibbet, and matures, through four years of sorrow, to a beautiful young woman.  And her romance with Ken, and her scrapes, and her worries.  And we get Walter, and poor doomed Una, who loves him (my favorite character forever).  And it is so good. I've read some complaints that the book is a little jingoist about the war, and how it serves a good purpose, and it is certainly hard on pacificist, but, remember, it was published in 1921 (so probably at least started during the war), so it's a lot to expect her to be on message with the whole "the war was a pointless massacre of a generation" message.  

         So, long story short (too late!) this is a great book, and I think anyone would like it (well anyone with patience for slightly old fashioned books).  And it is an absolute killer capper to the Anne series.  Oh, and, Walter totally could have been a prisoner or something, right??

Categories:  Fiction, Re-Read, L.M. Montgomery Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017