Note: Jane at Greenish Bookshelf and Jackie at Death By Tsundoku are co-hosting an Anne of Green Gables series readalong for the remainder of the year. Check out their blogs for more info on how to join the fun!
“Gilbert darling, don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us, even if it brings scads of trouble and typhoid and twins!”
Ah, the power of low expectations! I’d been warned by Melanie that the even-numbered books in this series weren’t as good as the odd ones. Plus, my own experience with the second book made me set my bar pretty low for Anne of Windy Poplars. How nice to be surprised! I ended up really enjoying this and felt almost sad when I finished it.
Windy Poplars introduces a new kind of structure to the series, with many of the chapters in the form of letters from Anne to her beloved Gilbert Blythe. I confess that when I read the first chapter I thought, “Dude, this chapter is too long to be an actual letter to someone!” But then I just went with it and forgot about my minor quibble. Anne tells Gilbert early on that he’ll only get a romantic letter from her when she has exactly the right kind of pen. I am most grateful that we are spared the lovey-dovey stuff between Anne and Gilbert. Call me a crank, go ahead! This book is about Anne and her last years of being an independent, single young lady. I can read all about shmoopy-ness in the next book (or so I hear!)
I didn’t know if I could take all the ridiculous Pringle business at first. In fact, as I took notes during my reading I labeled two people “pills” and two others names that I won’t print here out of decency. 🙂 But Anne worked her innumerable charms (and wasn’t above a little innocent suggested blackmail) and turned around all the unfriendly and hostile Pringles and others in Summerside. Two of my favorite victories of Anne’s were when she sat with the wheelchair-bound Mrs. Gibson, allowing Pauline to go to her friend’s wedding and enjoy a glorious day of freedom, and the matchmaking of Nora and Jim Wilcox.
I actually shed some tears when I read about poor Teddy Armstrong. I could tear up just thinking about it now, his poor father all alone without a picture of his beloved little boy. Finding his nephew Lewis brought some measure of peace but still it was a very sad event, the saddest so far in the series.
I very much enjoyed Anne’s hosts, Aunt Chatty and Aunt Kate, and their no-nonsense housekeeper Rebecca Dew. Rebecca’s funniest moment was when she grumbled, “Do you s’pose they’ll ask us at the judgement day how many petticoats we’ve got on?” and then went into the kitchen before anyone could comment.
I was left with a sense of melancholy when I finished the book, because I realized that this was the last installment before Anne and Gilbert get married. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for their marriage. It’s just that Anne is such an independent, strong, resourceful young woman in a time when most young women didn’t dare have dreams or independent lives beyond the hope of marriage and children. Maybe I’m anxious because I’ve never read the series before and I just don’t know that Anne will retain her strong nature and not just become a mother to little “Davy and Dora”-type kids. I want Anne to continue to solve problems and bring people together and charm people into doing what she wants! Maybe those of you who have read this series before can soothe my fears on that score.
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by Windy Poplars and would definitely consider reading it again someday. The epistolary nature grew on me, as did Anne’s (sometimes unlikely) propensity for matchmaking and solving people’s problems. Four stars.
(This is book #13 of #20BooksofSummer.)