Bonjour, y’all! (Wow…that was French coupled with southern American English. Wow.)
I decided to re-write my old book review on Rilla of Ingleside. I had been learning about WWI in World History, and picked up Rilla for about the three-hundredth-twenty-seventh time. I fell in love with the book again, and decided to re-write a better review. I just love this book so much! *sighs*
Title: Rilla of Ingleside (final book in the Anne of Green Gables series)
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Publish date: 1921
Number of pages: 440
Age suggested: 10+
Excerpt: “But just now she was very happy. It was so delightful to be tripping with her friends down that dark, gleaming road sprinkled with its little spruces and firs, whose balsam made all the air resinous around them. Meadows of sunset afterlight were behind the westerning hills. Before them was the shining harbor. A bell was ringing in the little church over-harbor and the lingering dream-notes died around the dim, amethystine points. The gulf beyond was still silvery blue in the afterlight. Oh, it was all glorious – the clear air with its salt tang, the balsam of the firs, the laughter of her friends. Rilla loved life – its bloom and brilliance; she loved the ripple of music, the hum of merry conversation; she wanted to walk on forever over this road of silver and shadow. It was her first party and she was going to have a splendid time. There was nothing in the world to worry about – not even freckles and over-long legs – nothing except one little haunting fear that nobody would ask her to dance. It was beautiful and satisfying just to be alive – to be fifteen – to be pretty.”
Summary: (revised from previous review) In Four Winds, about 60 miles away from Avonlea, PEI, the book opens in early summer of 1914. Within the second chapter, we find that Germany declares war on France, and then England declares war on Germany. Six days later, Jem Blythe – along with thousands of Canada’s boys enlists. While the boys are gone, Rilla keeps the home fires going, adopts a war baby, directs a Junior Red Cross, and decides, along with Susan, to be a heroine. In the midst of hemming, knitting socks, and learning to cook economically, her dearest brother Walter enlists, along with her sweetheart Kenneth Ford. In the duration of the war, at home, Susan gets a proposal from Whiskers-On-The-Moon – and chases him out of her kitchen with a pot of boiling dye; Mary Vance sends Miller Douglas off in khaki; Rilla conducts a war-wedding, and above all, everyone tries their hardest to “keep calm and carry on”. In 1918 the war ends, and Dr.-Jekyll-and-Mr.-Hyde mysteriously disappears. Those who have survived the war come back, and although those who had been touched by the war were never happy in the same way, life went on.
My thoughts: This book grips you and keeps you enthralled within the very first page. You enter the world of 1914 – when England has just declared war on Germany. All throughout the novel you live with the characters – you, with Rilla, wonder, “Over there in France tonight – does the line hold?” You fear, you laugh, you pray, you cry with these characters. Montgomery takes you from tears to laughter. Susan Baker is so full of wit and sarcasm you are beside yourself with mirth. Yet behind that smile you still have a fear – that Germany will win the war and all will be lost. It’s a tear-jerker for sure – I have read it multiple times and every single time I read it, I still cry. The genre is halfway between a romance and a historical fiction. I find it so fascinating to see the inventions and technology in 1914-1918. We start out with big guns, then poison gas, and lastly aeroplanes. And it is simply beautiful to see the changes in Rilla – as she goes from ages fifteen to nineteen. As the book begins, she is a vain, overly-romantic foolish girl – and as fond as italics and superlatives as many fifteen-year-olds are. Yet in the end she has developed into a capable, practical, yet still romantic woman. This, I consider a masterpiece of literature. A must-read.
So there’s my book review, y’all! What did you think? Have you read Rilla of Ingleside?
Oh and before I sign off, I have to say something about this beautiful cover.
If you’ve read the book you will know what each little item on the cover is. First, the title is on her journal – which she writes in during the book. (it goes from third to first person, as it adds in her journal entries.) Behind that is a letter to one of the boys in the army. On the top we have the war-wedding cake, her slippers that pinched her feet so badly at her first dance, and the hat that she bought – and wore for the duration of the war. We have a pair of socks she knitted and the train that carried the boys out of Four Winds. We have the mayflowers that Jem would bring Anne every spring, one of the uniform hats (probably Ken’s), Dog Monday, the white feather that was sent to Walter, and, of course, Rilla’s silhouette. I have to say this is one of my favorite covers ever – it shows that the illustrator, Karin Paprocki, really read the book! Bravo! (and in case you wish to purchase it, it’s here on Amazon.)