I brought Anne of Windy Poplars along with me for the Easter long weekend. My in-laws live in a log house surrounded by fruit trees, with a little pond in the back – I think Anne would have appreciated it here, she probably would have felt like there was a lot of ‘scope for imagination.’
In this fourth book in the series, Anne heads to Summerside, PEI where she has taken a job as principal of a school. Normally the principals board with Mrs Tom Pringle but for some reason, this year she decided that she couldn’t take Anne. Lucky for us because this means that Anne ends up boarding with “The Widows” – Aunt Chatty and Aunt Kate. And Rebecca Dew, the housekeeper.
I have to confess that I got Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of the Island mixed up. When I was reading Anne of the Island I kept expecting the Aunts to show up and when they didn’t I was disappointed and a little confused. I was reading the wrong book – it’s Anne of Windy Poplars that I love.
Anne is in Summerside and Gilbert is in medical school so for the three years that they are apart, they basically only write each other letters and that’s more or less what make up the book. Anne is, of course, an excellent correspondent. She delights in odd neighbours, her new surroundings and her students and aptly describes it all for Gilbert. We get the full scoop on the Pringles – the family that pretty well run Summerside and don’t like Anne to begin with because a Pringle cousin was supposed to get her job. They go out of their way to exclude Anne from all the social goings-on in Summerside and her Pringle students make life hard on Anne. But of course our Anne manages to win them over eventually – although surprisingly with something that looks an awful lot like blackmail.
I love the characters in this book: Rebecca Dew is a delight; little Elizabeth, the neighbour girl living with her austere grandmother while dreaming of the father that left her there; Miss Minerva Tomgallon, the last member of a family with loads of money but who very probably were also cursed; Gerald and Geraldine, the worst behaved twins with the most indulgent mother; Katherine Brooke, the assistant principal who refuses to give Anne the time of day until Anne forces her to come to Green Gables for Christmas; little motherless Teddy Armstrong, with his big dog and his cranky father; and of course Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty.
I love that Anne gets so involved in this community. She is a most sought after dinner guest (especially once the Pringles come around) and is very popular amongst the young people – since she is safely engaged, all the young ladies are comfortable confiding in her all their romantic troubles. I find that in Anne of Windy Poplars, our Anne has become the person she was meant to be. She is so sure of herself and her place in the world – all the worries and uncertainty from the last book seem to have melted away. She is steady, hardworking, still a dreamer, thoughtful, compassionate and still delights in the absurd. She writes to Gilbert about their future, the dreams she has for their house of dreams and the children that will hopefully come along. Even though we don’t see much of Gilbert, we still get a real sense of their relationship.
Anne of Windy Poplars is one of my favourites in the series. Anne is still the centre of our universe but we’re branching out more and more as our Anne-girl weaves her brand of magic all over the place.