Farewell to the Green Gables Readalong!

And so we come to the end of the Green Gables Readalong as hosted by Reeder Reads: Rilla of Ingleside.

I know for sure that I had only read this book once before and I have a  vivid memory of waking up on a weekend morning and finishing it in bed before I went upstairs for breakfast. I remember being glad that I did because I was sobbing in my bed and I never did like crying in front of other people.

If you want to catch up on this monthly re-read of LM Montgomery’s famous series you can start here.

In this final Anne book we follow Rilla as she struggles to throw off the mantle of petted, spoiled baby of the family and show them all that she is a young woman. In the beginning, Rilla is the kind of girl intent on fun – she longs to be ‘out’ and go to parties like her older sisters, to have beaux and nice dresses. She has no ambition whatsoever and looks at the years between 15 and 19 as the years that should be the nicest in a girl’s life.

On the night of the Four Winds dance, the night she spends a glorious hour on the beach alone with Kenneth Ford and has on delightful little silver slippers, the news of the beginning of the war comes down and the world that Rilla knows ceases to exist. Shortly thereafter Rilla’s oldest brother Jem and the neighbour Jerry Meredith enlist. Over the next four years, during the time that was supposed to be the sweetest of her life, Rilla must do her part for the war effort and learn to live with the uncertainty that war brings. Eventually Kenneth enlists as do Shirley and Carl Meredith and Rilla’s favourite brother, Walter.

Oh Walter! Poetic, lovely, sensitive, grey-eyed Walter. The one of the siblings most like his mother. I cried my eyes out this time around, knowing what was coming. I think being an adult now, his sacrifice, the way he writes to Rilla almost knowing what’s to come, the words he leaves her with to make sure that the world he fought for is a better place, they mean so much more to me.

I loved that this book was much more about one character, a return to the format of Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams. We still know a great deal of what is happening in the community, but it’s told through the lens of Rilla as she’s learning who she is.

I’ve read a few books recently about this time and I’ve been frustrated by them. Their lack of something. This book has what I’ve been missing. Maybe it’s because Montgomery lived through the war and was so passionate about it leaving the world a better place. You can almost hear her frustration at it happening in the first place. For the first time, the wider world intrudes on PEI.

There’s a lot to love about this book: Rilla bringing up a war-baby that she finds near starving to death; Dog Monday waiting at the train station for years until his master’s return; the neat solution to the war-baby’s future in the trust left to him by a perfect stranger; Susan Baker. I’ve always been a fan of Susan Baker’s – I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea – and in this book she proves her mettle over and over again, packing up cakes and cookies to send to the boys, learning all about the politics and battles so that she knows exactly what’s happening in the war, bravely sending off her little brown boy Shirley to fight, and even swearing! Oh I love when Susan swears!

I think I could have done with another book, find out how Rilla fares. But I also know that I could never bear reading a book where Anne possibly dies. Or even Gilbert. Or Susan come to that. It’s mentioned briefly in the beginning of this book that Marilla has died and I’ve always been glad that I didn’t have to experience that like when Matthew died.

Now I’m done with the series and I feel like a better person for the visit. It’s been a good reminder of simpler times, that hard work will always be its own reward and that trying to be good is always half the battle.

Thank you again Lindsey for hosting this readalong. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.


10 thoughts on “Farewell to the Green Gables Readalong!

  1. I feel like I have so much to say. But, that’s partly because I’ve been itching to write about it myself (our computer has been in the shop, but we finally got it back today).
    I love what you said about feeling like a better person after re-reading the books. They really do make me want to be a better person – I don’t know what it is.
    The last time I read this book, I must have been too young. I’m pretty sure the significance of it didn’t hit me as hard as it did this time. And, yes, Susan Baker was wonderful in this one! The book just wouldn’t have been the same without her.
    I was also happy that she didn’t dwell on Marilla’s death. I could just pretend it didn’t happen.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to follow Rilla’s life? I was thinking that if she had continued, she could have sent Rilla’s sons off to the next war, so maybe it’s just as well that we’ll never know…

    • I can’t wait to read your thoughts!
      I don’t think you are able to realize the horror of this book when you’re young and that’s probably a good thing. What an injustice to our childhoods to be fully aware of the horrors we inflict on each other.
      You’re so right – it wouldn’t have been the same without Susan Baker.
      It would be nice to follow Rilla’s life! At least I always thought it would be until you just said that we’d probably have to watch her send her sons to war. Not interested in that!

  2. The first time I read the series, I blew through it until I came to this book. I put it down immediately after learning of Walter’s death, not reading beyond that sentence, and did not pick it up again for two or three years. I was devastated (as only a nine year old can be). I can read it all the way through now but that is still one of the most difficult fictional deaths for me.

  3. It’s been wonderful to meet you through the Green Gables Readalong, to follow along as you’ve read the series, and to read your posts on other books. I haven’t reread Rilla yet but am looking forward to doing so, as I remember it being one of my favourites. I had forgotten all about the baby she cares for and about Dog Monday. My memory of Walter’s death, however, is vivid. When did Montgomery write Rilla? How long after the war was it? I’m sure her memories of her own experience of living through that uncertainty and sadness were pretty clear whether she wrote it right away or years after the war ended.

    • I’ve enjoyed meeting you too! I’ve learned a lot from your blog!
      This book came out in 1921. You can tell that those experiences were really vivid for Montgomery. I’m not sure any of the other books have the patriotism and the passion that Rilla does. It always makes me sad to think she saw WWII but died before it was over. I think she was probably devastated and heartbroken that it happened again.

  4. It’s been so nice to watch you guys read the series. It has really made me want to revisit the books as well. I understand completely what you mean when you say the books make you want to be a better person. I’ve been looking for the edition you have, so maybe I will save up, get the boxed set, and then read with the kids. (And they better love the books as much as I do! 🙂 )

  5. I had rather forgotten about little Jims’ trust fund! That was so cool! I totally agree with you about Susan, even Gilbert notes she was a “brick” throughout it all. And yes, I can’t remember the last time I cried as hard at a fictional character’s death as I did at Walter’s. That was tough! But, as I noted in my review and as you noted, I was relieved I didn’t have to read about Anne or Gilbert dying, and as with you and Naomi, was also relieved there were no real details about Marilla’s death–it would have unleashed a crying jag, I’m sure! 🙂 Love your thoughts and summary!

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