(We do not lack for red-headed beauties in these parts.)
This was my summer of Lucy Maud Montgomery. I want to share thoughts and a few choice quotes from each of the Anne books in this post..
Anne of Green Gables The themes of imagination, wonder, friendship, drama and belonging come together in the person of Anne Shirley. Anne has eyes to see and the heart to be stopped by the beauty around her. All that exuberance is counter balanced by the clear-eyed, practical Marilla Cuthbert. And who doesn’t love Matthew Cuthbert, the buyer of puffed sleeves?
“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. it would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”
All things great are wound up with all things little.
Anne of Avonlea Anne begins teaching at the Avonlea school. Can you imagine our schools today hiring sixteen-year-olds to teach? The cranky neighbor, Mr. Harrison, plays the curmudgeon, adding spice to the story. Marilla adopts the Keith twins, Davy and Dora, but their characters didn’t capture my interest.
I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.
Anne of the Island Anne leaves PEI for Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Anne is coming of age; she is going away, Diana is staying—their friendship will change. The book is framed by Anne and Gilbert’s relationship: from comfortable comrades at the beginning through the awkwardness of rejected romance eventually to true love.
Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.
There is so much in the world for us all if we only have eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves—so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful.
Anne of Windy Poplars Anne is teacher/principal at a school in Summerside, back on PEI. Every Anne book needs a crank: Katherine Brooke fills the role, a woman who made being disagreeable into a fine art. Katherine is transformed by Anne’s patient and pursuing friendship.
Anne had a horror of being petty.
Even the commonplaces had been made lovely. Every bit of wire fencing was a wonder of crystal lace.
Anne’s House of Dreams The book begins with Gilbert and Anne’s wedding, a small quiet event in the apple orchard at Green Gables. They move to Glen St. Mary where Gilbert begins medical practice and Anne gets involved in the stories of the people around her. Instead of a crank, one of the main characters, Leslie Moore, is tragic. And Miss Cornelia Bryant, who has strong opinions about Methodists and Presbyterians, provides comic relief. The spinster maid, Susan Baker—one of my favorites—is introduced.
They had a sort of talent for happiness, them two.
I LIKE to be alone now and then, just to think over things and TASTE them. But I love friendship—and nice, jolly little times with people.
Anne of Ingleside Five Blythe children have joined Gilbert, Anne and the maid, Susan, at Ingleside. It is their stories we read: Jem disappears, Di learns about false friends, sensitive Walter has a long dark night; Nan cheats God. Grouchy Aunt Mary Maria Blythe plays the part of the crank. She so resembled one of my long-departed relatives that I snorted a few times in sympathy with Anne.
Susan’s mince pies are poems, just as her apple pies are lyrics.
Only sneaks, Jem had said once, tried to get out of bargains.
Rainbow Valley This book is dear to my heart. The Reverend John Knox Meredith, the new minister, is a widower with four children. The Meredith kids get all the good stories in this book. I bonded with Rainbow Valley, of course, because my mom died when I—the youngest of seven—was ten and my dad was the same kind of absent minded minister as the Rev..
Every LMM book needs a cranky reprobate: enter Norman Douglas. Spunky Faith Meredith challenges old Norman Douglas and the sparks fly. it’s a jolly good time.
Where can folks get better acquainted than over a meal table?
The more we love the richer life is—even if it is only some little furry or feathery pet.
Rilla of InglesideLucy Maud’s final Anne book comes up to the level of Anne of Green Gables, and may even surpass it. Bertha Marilla, aka Rilla, aka Rilla-my-Rilla, is one of Montgomery’s most well-rounded, multidimensional characters. Like the Dowager in Downton Abbey, Susan Baker—the maid who is a part of the family—has the best quotes.
So much that is satisfying can be found in this book: the growth of Rilla; her fostering of the infant Jims, a war-baby; the understanding and affection between Rilla and her brother Walter; the long vigil of Dog Monday waiting for his master to return.
Rilla, published in 1921, offers a clear view of life in Canada during the war. This title belongs on more WWI lists.
When we have to do a thing, Mr. Dr. dear, we can do it.
I am not, proceeded Susan firmly, going to lament or whine or question the wisdom of the Almighty any more as I have been doing lately. Whining and shirking and blaming Providence do not get us anywhere. We have just got to grapple with whatever we have to do whether it is weeding the onion patch or running the Government. I shall grapple.
Reading Lucy Maud, Part 1