rilla of ingleside, again

I am devoted to the Anne books by LM Montgomery. I have read most of her other books too, but Anne is the character to whom I relate most closely, and so these books are most precious to me (although The Blue Castle is something very special indeed.) Infact, Emma and Richard's house in Linden Cove was based on my private vision of Anne's House of Dreams.

I grew up in an exceedingly prosaic little country, and didn't encounter another dreamy, romantic girl in society or the media (apart from Stevie Nicks, who may be described more as witchy) until, at the age of 21, I discovered Anne Shirley. Remember there was no internet in those days, so my experience was limited. And it seemed that soft-hearted dreaminess was not something the women, or certainly the fictional women characters, of the 1970s and 80s could seem to afford.*

(Funnily enough, it was the male poets I read at university who gave me language for being dreamy and romantic.)

Of all the Anne books, though, it is actually Rilla of Ingleside that I love best. It's a little hard saying that, because I adore the others so much too. But this is the measure I go by : that although I have read Rilla at least twice a year for more than twenty years, it makes me cry every single time. Today I sat beside warm, shimmering waters and flowering hedges, and wept profusely over Walter's belated letter. Other times, it is Dog Monday who stirs my heart.

The domestic nature of this book draws me deeply into it, makes me feel like I am there body and spirit, even makes me sympathise a little with characters who despise a pacifist, despite being one myself. I feel the poignancy of the lost world. I have read enough history to know how deep the shadow was that drew people out of their final glorious summer when all seemed so innocent and peaceful. And I readily imagine the growing wonder (and imposition) of aeroplanes, motor cars, Daylight Savings.

I do wish for more from the book. More Anne (and less Susan!) More of a relationship between Rilla and Ken. More about the Rainbow Valley children at this age. Really, I guess what I want is for the book to be a whole little world that I can peek into whenever I want and watch scenes unwritten, follow plotlines beyond the end of the story, hear more from various characters.

I've written here before about Rilla. I seem to recall some rather shoddy analysis I made a couple of years ago. But I always am so overflowing with love for the book after reading it, and I can't help but write again. And ask, have you read Rilla of Ingleside? Would you like to discuss it in the comments? What do you think of Ken? I know some dislike how Anne responded to what befell Walter, but I sympathised. Do you agree? Do you like Susan? Are you saddened by how remote a mother Anne seems to have become? What about when Jims left? Do you share my love for Rilla and all things Anne?

* I remembered later the powerful influence Cinderella had on my personality and vision from a very young age. She was an ideal of gentleness and goodness that I never really saw admired in society or the media as I was growing up. I wrote about this in the following post.


  1. it's funny---i read and loved the "anne of green gables" series when i was younger. i also read and enjoyed montgomery's "emily of new moon" trilogy...the heroine in those is actually a little more of a "kindred spirit" to me than anne is. i still re-read the original "anne" book, but i read the rest of them only twice; once in childhood and then again a few years ago when i got them on my kindle app. i never went on to read the "rilla" books, and i have no good reason why not. (makes note to self---look for them on amazon...)

    as i child, i read and re-read a book that i mentally file in the same box as "anne of green gables" and "emily of new moon": "rebecca of sunnybrook farm". i've continued to re-read it in adulthood. although i always wanted there to be a sequel to it, in which i would get to see what happened as the character became a woman and left school, at some level i have felt also that leaving it where the author did was, perhaps, the right choice. sort of like "eight cousins" versus "rose in bloom", where i prefer the first book and find the sequel underwhelming, or formulaic, or preachy. apparently i like having my beloved characters not finished-off? and i definitely prefer my stories to end prior to the world war, when everything comes crashing down. i must be the worst of escapists, fiction-wise...

    i shall have to read the "rilla" books and see what i have missed!

    1. I see your point about the sequels. I guess I am the same too - actually, someone asked me to write a sequel to Deep in the Far Away but I'm not sure I want to do that, even though I know I left questions unanswered. It's almost like there comes a point where you want characters to go off an lead their own lives, free. (And then you are free to imagine what that may be.)

  2. Oh I loved them all : ) Anne was such a beautifully flawed character whom I could relate to...with her red hair, her temper, and who spoke a language of invented words and imagery. A gloriously messy, intelligent, kind character who I felt was kin from the moment I opened those pages. I drank deeply from that well of comfort, imagination and creativity.
    My own daughter loves the Anne-girl, too.

    Also, I loved the Rilla and the Emily of New Moon books. Everything I could get my hands on. I had my own imaginary "coven" of characters, and we would all gather together inside my head and play wonderful games and talk about books. Nothing much has changed for me!
    A lovely post, Sarah. You've reminded me of so much childhood beauty. xx

    1. How lucky you were to have these books in childhood!

  3. I wrote you a long comment last night but then Google wouldn't let me publish so I am trying with ipad. I Ioved Anne of Green Gables too and have read several times. You inspired me to read the others. I may have read a couple. I have a terrible memory for what I have read. I have now ordered a boxed set from ebay. As a child and teenager I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre over and over.
    I also loved Cinderella and really identified with her. It is so inspiring to read of someone who is gentle and delicate and sensitive and hangs on to these ways of being as positive and the way they want to be. It is so derided in our culture and having two daughters like so and a beloved husband it is too it's very sweet to read your thoughts and that is OK to love Anne so much.
    If our children, now my grandchildren were encouraged to remain soft and gentle our earthly paradise wouldn't be in the state its in.

    1. thank you for your kindness in rewriting the comment. it's always so annoying when that happens.

      i very much agree with your last sentence.

  4. Oh, Sarah. Although I always tell people I've read all the Anne books when they're brought up, the truth is... I never did finish Rilla of Ingleside, the final one. I believe I skipped ahead and read the end, and learned of Walter's passing, but I just couldn't bear to read it through. I disliked what the story did to Anne and Gilbert and their children; all grown up. Maybe one day, if/when I become a mother myself, and I hope I do someday, this book will find a place in my heart. But until then, the very thought of it saddens me.