Family life is a hard sell, but L.M. Montgomery, relying on her strengths, manages to pull off a chronicle of Anne’s family life as the “chatelaine” of Ingleside, the new family home in Four Winds. Through her traditional use of anecdotes strung together, Montgomery pulls together a life that is rich and exciting for the Blythe family, including the next generation—her children. The stories are delightful and engaging, with the humor that comes when Montgomery writes about children (thankfully omitting the obnoxiousness of the Davy Keith episodes).
At the book’s beginning, Anne is expecting a new baby and enjoying many exciting moments at Ingleside—including an unwelcome visit from Mary Maria, Gilbert’s meddlesome aunt and truly a delicious villain for the book. We hear from all the children in the book, except for Shirley, who merely serves as Susan’s “little brown boy” and is quiet and unassuming. Their triumphs and embarrassments are on full display, particularly the twins’ Nan and Diana’s exploits.
Montgomery really does shine when she writes children, though we do get to hear from Anne at the beginning and end of the novel. Towards the end, Anne worries that Gilbert no longer loves her and that they have become a “habit” with each other. Since theirs is a marriage built on love and friendship, this concern shows how much they really do care about each other, something that’s not always so common in novels or in real life.
This is the last book that Montgomery wrote in the official series, even though it’s six out of eight, and you can tell how heavily the war had weighed on her mind. There’s some foreshadowing of what is to come later, which gives the book a melancholy and haunted feel.
Cross-posted to my blog.