My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Right now, of the four books I have read in the Anne series thus far, this one is my favourite. I suppose this is because this is the one I could relate to the most at this time in my life. Anne is blissfully married to Gilbert Blythe, moves to her ‘house of dreams’ and makes lots of fascinating new friends in her neighbours. In this book she also gets to witness and experience sorrow (unlike the unhappiness of her early childhood), and grows a great deal more.
As usual, after reading the book and rating it on goodreads, I went to check out other folks’ reviews. I noticed that many young, single women, still studying or pursuing a career, were not able to reconcile themselves with the Anne of this book in the series. Many found it hard to understand that she would give up a promising career as a writer for domesticity. However, those who did give it 4 or 5 starts, for the most part, were women like me –married and having chosen domesticity over a career and are quite happy and content with their lot. Really, when you think about it, in spite of her competing with Gilbert for first place in Anne of Green Gables and studying so hard for a career in Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, Anne is mostly a dreamer and not a woman of ambition. She loves the simple things of life and delights in them. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that she gives up a career as a writer to be a doctor’s wife and a mother.
Yet, what sparkles the most in this book, is not Anne herself, but three of the secondary characters introduced in this book — a) Cornelian Bryant, a middle-woman spinster with a kind heart and a tongue made to cut all men in half; her oft repeated saying is “now isn’t that just like a man.” b) Captain Jim, an old seasoned sailor who mans the lighthouse at the Four Winds harbour. He’s a delightful man with so many tales to share and a heart of gold. c) Leslie Moore, a beautiful woman, not much older than Anne, with a tragic past and a sorrowful present.
These three characters liven up the story so much with the first providing the comedy with her strictures on men, the second giving the story soul and the third providing a vein of pathos that does not overwhelm the reader but adds to the charm of Montgomery’s story telling.
I will admit to missing the old familiar characters of Marilla and Rachel and Davy. They make very brief cameo appearances and then vanish. However, while I missed them, I didn’t feel their absence was a drawback. It was only natural, I suppose.
Again, Montgomery deals with themes of life and death in all their varying shades and colours. I love, so much, how she does this — with such finesse!
I have two more books to go in the sies (I’m skipping book six as I don’t have it), and I have a strong feeling that the best is yet to come. However, this book is definitely going to be special to me.
Allow me to leave you with quotes, whether lovely or pragmatic, from Anne’s House of Dreams.
On the woods and the sea
The woods are never solitary– they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity. We can never pierce its infinite mystery–we may only wander, awed and spellbound, on the outer fringe of it. The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only–a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels.
It’s so beautiful that it hurts me,” said Anne softly. “Perfect things like that always did hurt me–I remember I called it `the queer ache’ when I was a child. What is the reason that pain like this seems inseparable from perfection? Is it the pain of finality–when we realise that there can be nothing beyond but retrogression?”
“Perhaps,” said Owen dreamily, “it is the prisoned infinite in us calling out to its kindred infinite as expressed in that visible perfection.”
On Cornelian Bryant
Certainly, sentiment and passion had a way of shrinking out of sight in Miss Cornelia’s presence.