I’m still working my way through the Anne books for the Reeder Reads Readlong: one Anne book a month from January to August. So the post is a little late but I swear I did read Anne of Ingleside in June!
You can catch up with this series by starting here if you’re so inclined.
Anne Blythe is now the mother of 5, soon to be 6, children! Her wonderful house, Ingleside, has been invaded by the likes of Aunt Mary Maria Blythe, who was only supposed to stay for two weeks. Aunt Mary Maria makes it difficult for everyone in the family to be in the house, always commenting on the kids’ manners, the things they say, eat or do. Gilbert is away working a lot and Anne doesn’t want to force her to leave. Meanwhile we get to know the Blythe children: Jem, the oldest, desperate for his own little dog to love; Nan and Di, the twins, one favouring her mother in colouring and her father in temperament, the other with brown hair and eyes and her head permanently in the clouds; sweet, lovely, sensitive Walter, convinced his family sent him away; Shirley, who doesn’t actually have much of a role in this book at all; and darling lisping baby Rilla, convinced that carrying a cake through town is the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to a girl.
When I read this book as a kid I was delighted with it. I loved how Anne was exactly the kind of mother she always said she’d be, taking all the cares and troubles of her little babies seriously. I loved that there was a series that so completely showed the life of it’s character – that we got to know both Anne as a mother and her little children. I loved how each child was so different but that they all seemed to go together. And to a certain degree, I still love those things about it.
But this time I found Gilbert such a disappointment. I know, I know. At the time, he was just like any other man working hard to provide for his family. And he does work so hard. But when he is around, which is rare, he doesn’t seem like the Gilbert we used to know and love. He seems hard somehow. Like he doesn’t understand his little children, even though so many of them are just like Anne when he loved her as a child. Even his interactions with Anne seem clipped and curt. Only at the very end does Gilbert find any kind of redemption and I’m still wondering if it was enough, or too little too late?
That said, I have a whole new level of love for Susan Baker. Especially when she and Rebecca Dew discover that they are kindred spirits. The letters they write to each other! I just loved those.
If I remember correctly, this was kind of the last book to feature Anne so prominently. The last two books are more or less given over entirely to the Blythe children. I’m sad to leave Anne, even though I know she will still exist in the last two books. It won’t be the same though.
Rainbow Valley here I come!