Well, that was life. Gladness and pain…hope and fear… and change. Always change. You could not help it. You had the let the old go and take the new to your heart… learn to love it and the let it go in turn. Spring, lovely as it was, must yield to summer and summer lose itself to autumn. The birth… the bridal… the death.
There’s something about giving a two-star rating to an Anne of Green Gables book that just makes me feel bad, guilty, like a Grinch. After all, Anne Blythe and her family are so earnest and well-meaning, and the above quotation has some undeniably Zen truth to it, but Anne of Ingleside (#6 in the series) is my least favorite so far. This one was mostly about the kiddos. They were cute, precocious, mostly well-behaved… but after a while I grew weary of their antics. Here’s a sad dog story. Here’s another sad dog story. Here’s where one kid is terribly naive and gets tricked into doing something naughty by a devious schoolmate. Here’s another kid being gullible and doing something naughty at the behest of a different devious schoolmate. By the time I got to Rilla’s story I just didn’t care anymore and I skimmed to the next anecdote.
It starts off with Anne being very pregnant and soon the kids are being shipped off so she can give birth at home. The kids have no clue what’s going on, and they think Mom’s gonna die. The whole thing made me intensely grateful for birth control and hospitals, honestly. Then the reader is made to suffer along with the Blythe family through the extended visit of the delightful Aunt Mary Maria. Oh my God! She was horrible. I thought she would never leave. It did make me laugh that Anne finally ran her off by trying to do something nice for her. The only thing that brightened the entire section was Susan’s wanting to fling a full gravy boat at her head. (I wish she had!)
It wasn’t all bad, though. I very much related to Anne whenever she took a moment to think about how quickly her children were growing up. As the mother of a six year-old I am keenly aware of how quickly time is passing and am determined to enjoy my boy being “little” as fully as I can before he becomes too big to be sweet and demonstrative with his affections. Those sections really resonated with me.
I also enjoyed the very last bit about Anne feeling tossed aside and underappreciated by Gilbert. Gilbert appears to have forgotten their anniversary, or so Anne thinks, and instead wants to go visit an old flame, the glamorous and childless Christine Stuart. Anne tortures herself with anxiety and doubt (“But did anybody really like red hair?”) and decides that Gilbert has grown tired of her. (“Men had always been like that… always would be.”) Gilbert gives a kind of lame excuse that he’d been terribly worried about a patient. And his anniversary gift had been late in coming (so he didn’t even tell his wife “Happy Anniversary, dear! Your present is late, I’m sorry, but I still love you and think you’re beautiful!”) Hmmmph. He says something like “Oh, Anne, I didn’t think you were the type to need things like that said to you.” Clearly Words of Affirmation is not Gilbert’s love language. Well, Anne is happy with his explanations, at least, and all is well as we end our time in Ingleside. Gilbert tells her they’re going to go on a second honeymoon to Europe. Please tell me we get to read about this in one of the last two books in the series! I’ll feel terribly cheated if we don’t get to hear about their travels.
Two more books to go in the series before the end of the year! (Yes, I’m a bit late with this review – should have posted it in October.) I’m still glad I’m reading these, as they are beloved by so many book bloggers and are such a classic reading experience for so many. Participating in the Readalong has given me the structure I need to keep going till the end! I would have thrown in the towel on my own, so I’m grateful to Jane and Jackie for continuing to spearhead the Readalong with such enthusiasm!
If you’ve read this one, what did you think of Gilbert’s anniversary snafu? Did you find the antics of the children tiresome? What were some of the bright spots for you? Is #7 in the series better? Let me know in the comments.