I'm not sure, now, what it was that had put me off reading the sixth book in the Anne series. I was inclined to be querulous about it, to go all out and tear it to pieces. Perhaps it was the knowledge that this particular book was written years after the original six, and so I was afraid the old charm could not be maintained. Perhaps it was my experience of Anne of Windy Poplars which was the other book of the series that was written years after the original six — I had found it to be a bore, I had found it too saccharine, and there were just too many people and too many kindred spirits.
So, my experience through the first few chapters of this book was simply so-so. I had a moment of ranting when I wrote the following:
There are many times when I do dislike Anne Blythe. She is nice when it is convenient for her. And as long as folk are going along with her fantasies she is absolutely peachy. The incident of the obituary really put me off. So, here was a woman who wanted something pretty said of her dead husband. She obviously had loved him in her own way, and had understood that he was of a gentle, poetic nature, unlike herself who was something of a peasant woman. Wanting something special written about her husband, and not thinking the regular kind of obituary good enough for him, came to Anne Blythe. Anne writes a poetical piece, with no substance I might add, and gives it to the woman who says admiringly that it is 'sprightly' (which offends our poet who cannot understand a person who does not speak her language and interests). When the obituary is put in the papers it is found that there is an extra verse tagged on to the end of the poem, that is specific about what this man meant to his wife. Anne and the entire Ingleside household is offended. I thought that unfeeling and selfish. Anne Blythe gets on my nerves, she does! If a person isn't her kindred spirit then they are simply labeled unworthy of any consideration. BAH!
Looking back, I still see my point as valid, but…I realised that quite a bit of the episodes revolving around Anne (save the last one) I found rather annoying. However, most of the chapters in the books revolve around Anne's children. These chapters are an absolute delight. We grow to know the Ingleside children (except for Shirley, the third boy and last but one child of the family) deeply — their interests, their quirks, their little foibles, and troubles. Anne makes for a lovely mother. She always seems to know how to work with her children and help them solve their tiny-people problems. However, she isn't perfect, and I think the incident I loved best with Anne was the last one in the book with Gilbert. It was so normal. This was a normal marriage, where, when work takes over one's life, one can some times forget the simple pleasure of a loving spouse.
I think one can tell that once I was well into the book I began to relax and enjoy it all. I found I loved reading of the so many tales, the gossip and rumours about folks of Four Winds Harbour. I wondered what it would be like to live in the small town my parents have retired to. Exactly like Four Winds, no doubt! It's a place where one gets to hear what's happening in every single family. It's deliciously scandolour to go home and hear all the 'gossip'. This is the sort of book one should really enjoy for its everyday-ness, it's little stories that make up the lives of ordinary people in an ordinary society.
I am so eager to delve into the last two books of the series. Having got to know Jem, Walter, Di, Nan and Rilla in Anne of Ingleside, I am looking forward to adventuring with them through Rainbow Valley, and then re-acquainting myself with an older Rilla and Walter and Kenneth Ford in Rilla of Ingleside. This last book was my first of this series, and as I remember it, perhaps to remain my favourite. I hope.