Once again, this is a book I have read and re-read countless times, with one caveat which I will explain further below. This is the third chronological book in this series and follows Anne through her time in college. It, like all the Anne books is a book I turn to when I need a comfortable read.
Like most of the Anne books, there isn’t really much of plot for the book it is instead a series of interconnected stories that slip through the years like ‘pearls on a string’, though this one probably has one of the strongest plots of the series. Anne is in college along with Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloan from Avonlea as well as Pricilla Grant, her friend from the high school she attended in the last book. Anne also gets no fewer then five proposals in this book, and it is something of a love story. The main romance has been building for some time and the moment when it finally pays off has probably ruined me for a lot of romance novels. The other proposals seem to be there mostly to take some of the romantic shine and expectations Anne had developed about proposals. For all that Montgomery is essentially writing a romance novel, she had no fear at taking potshots at the overblown romance novelists of the day as she shows the rather prosaic ways that men and women court each other, and how expectations built by those novels can actually blind us to what love really is.
As with the previous two books, I can practically recite this book from memory. The many stories from when Anne and Pricilla meet the flighty, silly Philippa and become fast friends to the adventures of Rusty the cat and beyond all play out like familiar songs, except for a few chapters in the last third. I’m not sure that I have ever before read the entirety of this book as some of the stories this time were completely new to me as I forced myself to read all the book. You see, Anne makes a terrible, wrong, bad, HORRIBLE decision about a two thirds of the way through the novel and I must have skimmed the chapters between that decision and when she finally rectifies it starting the very first time I read this novel and have done so for every re-read since, excepting this one. I didn’t completely skip them, as some of the stories between that BAD, HORRIBLE, WRONG decision and the moment she fixes it are just as familiar as all the other stories, but some were completely surprising. Even on this re-read, the temptation to skip over the parts where Anne was being stupid and WRONG was quite high, but I forced my way through and was charmed by the ‘new’ stories.
Interesting factoid, the set I received as a child ended with this novel and so for several years these three books were the only ones I read. When I finally got ahold of the remaining five novels, later as a teen, I read and enjoyed them but they don’t hold quite the same place in my heart as Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island (though to be sure, Anne of Windy Poplars is the closest competitor). Yes, I highly recommend this series, and you really should read it.