Welcome to my August review of Anne of Windy Poplars as part of the #AnneReadAlong2017! I really can’t believe we are already half way through this beloved series. Time has certainly sped up around here!
I am having so much fun co-hosting this event with Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku. We’d love to have you join us for any part of the read along. We are writing reviews, posting Top 5 Lists, hosting giveaways, and more! Check out my info page here.
I feel like it’s been months since I read an Anne book because I read the first three so close together. Honestly, it took a while to get into this one. And I didn’t quite find it as engaging as the first three.
- I was surprised that the book switches between letters from Anne to Gilbert and the classic third person narrative like in the earlier books. I liked the idea of the letters, but I would have preferred letters back and forth between Anne and Gilbert. And perhaps a few less “love letter” pages omitted 😉
- Even though this book is relatively short (my copy is just over 250 pages), it was a long read for me.
- Why don’t we refer to ourselves by our college degrees anymore? I think it’s so cute how Anne is sometimes referred to as a BA. I should start calling myself Jane, MA. Haha.
The fourth installment in the series chronicling Anne Shirley, now a B. A. who takes a job as a principal for three years while Gilbert finishes medical school. Goodreads summarizes, “Anne Shirley has left Redmond College behind to begin a new job and a new chapter of her life away from Green Gables. Now she faces a new challenge: the Pringles. They’re known as the royal family of Summerside – and they quickly let Anne know she is not the person they had wanted as principal of Summerside High School. But as she settles into the cozy tower room at Windy Poplars, Anne finds she has great allies in the widows Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty – and in their irrepressible housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. As Anne learns Summerside’s strangest secrets, winning the support of the prickly Pringles becomes only the first of her triumphs.”
Anne continues to be vibrant and lovable as a protagonist. I still adore Anne as a character. I love seeing her succeed and make friends and get into a few classic blunders. I love that she finds another kindred spirit home at windy poplars with her tower bedroom and tall bed. I love that she befriends little Elizabeth next door–her mini me in many ways. I love that she finally successfully befriends Katherine. I love that she loves Gilbert and that Green Gables is still as magical as ever. I wish we had more descriptions of Anne’s time with both Gilbert and her loved ones at Green Gables.
The new characters were, overall, more lacking in depth and personality for me. I mentioned Katherine above, who I think is a great character with her stubbornness and vitality. But most of the others just bothered me. We have all the engaged people of Summerside asking Anne for advice and then acting ridiculous when things go differently than they hope. And all the eccentric widows or old maids of Summerside who give us fun anecdotes, but lack the longevity of characters like Diana or Phil (wish we saw something of them in this novel too!). We didn’t get a build up of their growth or more than a single story about most of them. That made the story feel more disjointed for me.
Montgomery continues to be a great story teller with more endearing and silly anecdotes in this novel. But it took me a while to get excited about the stories. And it felt really disjointed for me throughout. I thought it could have been more cohesive. I wanted more of an overarching story that tied more characters together rather than single snapshots of Anne’s interactions with people. For example, we could have gotten more details about Anne’s relationship with Katherine including their first interactions, several anecdotes during their first year and then the fateful Christmas vacation when they finally became friends. That would have made Katherine more endearing and the story more exciting for me. The only people we do get a longer story about is little Elizabeth, but I wanted more details at the end of her story when everything gets wrapped up a bit too quickly.
The language continues to be as fabulous as in the first novel. I love the way Anne sees the world and the way Montgomery gives her such gorgeous ways of expressing her feelings. Even though Anne is growing up, she is still the same kindred soul. Some favorite examples:
“In daylight I belong to the world. …in the night to sleep and eternity. But in the dusk, I’m free from both and belong only to myself and you.“
“Gilbert, people are delicious and life is delicious.”
“I’ve always loved bends in roads.”
Anne of Windy Poplars, pages 3, 86, & 126
However, this was my least favorite Anne book of the series so far. First, I was disappointed that we didn’t get much of Anne and Gilbert together. The only mention of Gilbert that stands out is that he has a mustache when he comes to Green Gables for Christmas one year. Perhaps if we actually got love letters from each of them and a few scenes with them together it would feel like he was more a part of the story. I wanted some sweet moments with them together. Also I would have liked more of Marilla, Davy, Miss Lavender, and Diana. They are some of my favorite characters from earlier books and it felt strange to have them on the fringe rather than at the center of the story, at least for a minute. And again, the disjointed storytelling hindered my investment in the book. I just didn’t get as excited about this one as I did with the others.
Overall, not my favorite Anne book. But still a fun read to get more stories about Anne. I keep going back and forth on what to rate this book. I think I’ve finally settled on 3.5 stars. There are things I love about it (the classic Anne tone, Anne herself, windy poplars as a setting) but there are things that I strongly disliked too (disjointed stories, less lovable characters, not enough Anne and Gilbert time). I am really looking forward to the next book when Anne finally gets to build her home of dreams with Gilbert!
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See you in September for Anne’s House of Dreams!