And we return to the Anne books with the fourth chronological novel, but the second to last one written and published. I actually got quite curious about the publishing history of this novel and so I did a bit of research and now I’m completely fascinated. There are all these tidbits of information, which have very to do with the book’s content but are just so interesting. Also of note, unlike the previous three books, I have only read this particular one a handful of times.
This novel follows Anne during the three years of her life post-college and pre-marriage. She’s a principal at a small high school on the other end of PEI from Avonlea, and has to deal with a whole new set of small town prejudices. The novel is told both in the letters she writes to her fiancé (do you like how I’m pretending that you don’t already know who that is?) and in third person, it’s an interesting mix of formats. Once again the novel isn’t so much of a plot heavy novel as it is a series of short stories strung together by familiar characters.
So, interesting facts about this novel? There were two different versions published, Anne of Windy Poplars in the States and Anne of Windy Willows elsewhere. But beyond just the title change there were some minor changes made to the stories themselves because the American editors felt that some of the stories were too disturbing for their readers and asked Montgomery to change them. They aren’t a lot, and the differences have been catalogued here. Honestly the differences are so minor, and it’s REALLY amusing to me to see which stories were considered too scary for the American (women) readers. I think I need to track down a copy of Anne of Windy Willows to read.
Also interesting, because this was published in 1936 it hasn’t yet passed into the public domain here in the US, meaning that some collections of the Anne books don’t contain it (or Anne of Ingleside, published in 1939). I bought a kindle collection of Montgomery’s work, because I enjoy reading books on my kindle and this collection has some books I haven’t read yet, however it only has six of the eight Anne books. I found that really weird and this set me off on the Google search that still hasn’t quite ended. Publishing is weird guys. Fortunately I have a paperback copy.
Anyway, the story is lovely and I really enjoy Anne of Windy Poplars. I’ll be honest, knowing that it was published much later in Montgomery’s life does explain the different feel of the novel, as I find it the most haunted of the Anne books. This book just has a very October feel to it, and I’m sorry but I just can’t explain it better then that. Also little Elizabeth is probably my favorite of the ‘sprite’ children that are in Anne’s life, even if I think her story was probably wrapped up a bit too easily.
This one is definitely worth the read, and maybe track down a copy of the non-American version if you can.