Welcome back to the #AnneReadAlong2017!
Today I am reviewing the 7th book in the Anne Series — Rainbow Valley. I can’t believe we are almost done with the full series and our read along. What an adventure Jackie and I have had! It’s been so fun to read these books and share our thoughts with y’all! Thank you for joining us!
Rainbow Valley captured my attention right away. It is shorter than Anne of Ingleside, and I think it reads a lot quicker. This book reads like the original novel with a collection of smaller stories that fit together well. I was quickly engulfed in the magic of childhood and of the special valley where Anne’s children play. This novel focuses on Anne’s older children, especially Jem and Walter, and their friends, the Merediths. The story is actually more about the Merediths than Anne or her children. But we have the same timeless storytelling from Montgomery.
- This is one of my favorite books in the series. I really enjoyed it start to finish.
- I really, really want to visit PEI. I feel like I can’t say it enough! This novel only added to that desire as I fell more in love with Ingleside and Rainbow Valley and the village the Blythes call home.
- Can I just say that I am jealous that Anne has Susan as her housekeeper? She keeps everything clean, taking care of the children, and makes some delicious sounding goodies. I wish I had a Susan at my home!
- The Blythe children have such a beautiful, idyllic childhood. I hope to be the kind of mother that Anne is and to give my children the kind of home that Anne does.
Rainbow Valley follows the coming of age story of Anne’s children as they play and experience childhood in their favorite place–Rainbow Valley. Goodreads summarizes, “Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert and now is the mother of six mischievous children. These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream of what will happen when the strangest family moves into an old nearby mansion. The Meredith clan is two boys and two girls, with minister father but no mother — and a runaway girl named Mary Vance. Soon the Meredith kids join Anne’s children in their private hideout to carry out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There’s always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley.”
There are a lot of familiar characters in this novel that I love as well as several new ones. I love Walter because he seems just like Anne was as a child only a boy. His fight for Faith’s honor (and surprise at enjoying it) is a favorite scene with him. I love Faith because she is impulsive and good-hearted. She also reminds me of young Anne–always meaning well and caring deeply about others. I admired her courage and her loyalty even to her poor pet rooster, Adam. Una was easy to love because she is so kind and innocent. I admire her deep love for her father and loved the scene where she visits Rosemary West. Susan continues to make me laugh out loud with her no-nonsense approach to life and her insistence on things being in order. How can anyone play in a graveyard or consider laughing in heaven, after all? 🙂 And finally, I loved Rosemary West and Mr Meredith together. Frankly, I was annoyed by him when he was alone and not noticing his children. But I loved the way they complimented each other and the potential for happiness that they have at the end of the novel.
While so many characters were easy to love, there were a few I just couldn’t stand. Mary Vance absolutely drove me crazy! She was annoying and self righteous and thought she knew everything. I had to roll my eyes basically every time she opened her mouth. She seemed to only cause trouble and wore her difficult (potentially abusive) past like a badge of honor. She seemed proud of it. Of course, she and Miss Cornelia get along because they are both a bit gossipy and high handed. I’m glad she found a good home. But I was also glad when she stayed there. I also disliked Ellen West. She was very self centered and dramatic. I can’t believe she made Rosemary promise not to marry and then tries to get married herself! My jaw literally dropped when I read that.
I was surprised by the stark contrast between the childhoods of the three groups in this novel. The Blythe children have a beautiful childhood and loving parents that take care of them. The Merediths’ have a loving father. But he is also rather absent minded so they must “bring up themselves.” I felt sorry for them and was glad to think they will be happier and better taken care of at the end of the novel. Then we have Mary Vance who had a difficult, abusive childhood but who now has found a home and happiness. I think these contrasting experiences show the importance of involved, loving parents. As a young mother myself, I feel the importance of raising my children in a loving home and teaching them good morals and how to be kind.
There are also some darker themes in this novel than in previous books and some beautiful morals. Of course, they are not violent or inappropriate in nature. But this is not the innocent tale of Anne of Green Gables. There are more descriptions of hard things such as whipping children, potentially child abuse with Mary Vance, intense gossip, and the ending allusions to WWI. Although Anne is not at the center of this book, there does seem to be a more adult view of the world or at least an awareness of the evil in the world. As always, I found several beautiful morals in this book including the importance of family, teaching your children correct principles, and allowing yourself to love.
A few particular favorite quotes:
“It is never quite safe to think we have done with life. When we imagine we have finished our story fate has a trick of turning the page and showing us yet another chapter.”
“We miss so much out of life if we don’t love. The more we love the richer life is–even if it is only some little furry or feathery pet.”
Rainbow Valley, pages 89 & 140
Overall, a delightful read that is true to the essence of Anne. When I got to the end of the novel, I realized Anne had been more a periphery figure rather than the main character. I didn’t mind that as I read. But once I finished, I wanted more of Anne herself. Also would have loved some more stores and descriptions of Anne’s children’s experiences in Avonlea with Marilla. Reading more about their experiences in Anne’s beloved childhood haunts would have been nostalgic and enjoyable. However, this is a darling story and well worth the effort of getting to it near the end of the series.
What did you think of Rainbow Valley?
What is your favorite Anne book?
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See you in December
for the final month of #AnneReadAlong2017
and Rilla of Ingleside!