Friday, April 29, 2016

"Anne of Windy Poplars" by L. M. Montgomery

When I was a teen, this was my favorite Anne book.  I think Anne of Green Gables may have edged it out for me now, but it's almost too close to call.  I do know this book is the main reason why I have such a fondness for epistolary novels.  However, I was surprised to discover that it's not entirely written in long, chatty letters from Anne to Gilbert -- there are several chapters sprinkled throughout that are entirely written in the third person by a narrator like the first three books in the series.

In this one, Anne and Gilbert are engaged to be married, but Gilbert needs to finish medical school before they can be married, so Anne takes a job being the principal at a high school in a town called Summerside that is ruled by a clannish family by the name of Pringle.  At first, the Pringles resent her, but eventually, she wins them over, along with every other crank, coot, and misanthrope in the town.

I think what I like best about this book is how kindness and compassion play such a big role.  Really, the tagline for it could be "Have courage, and be kind."  Does Anne surmount basically every obstacle anyone can throw in her way?  Yes, she does.  How?  By being kind and compassionate toward everyone, whether they are nice to her or not.  Over and over, she makes a kind gesture, or shows some extra patience, or tries to befriend someone friendless, and the end result is that an antagonist thaws out, unbends, or turns out not to be as curmudgeonly as previously rumors had painted them.  How can I help but be charmed by such stories?

As a teen, I know I appreciated how Montgomery "edited" Anne's letters to leave out the mushy, romantical parts.  This amuses be greatly still.  

Particularly Good Bits:

In passing, isn't 'dusk' a lovely word? I like it better than twilight.  It sounds so velvety and shadowy and... and... dusky (p. 3).


"Nobody is ever too old to dream.  And dreams never grow old" (p. 89).

"A cold in the head in June is an immoral thing" (p. 184).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Sweet and clean and gentle.


This is my 38th book read and reviewed for the Classics Club, and my 7th for the Women's Classic Literature Event.


Elyssa hasn't posted any discussion questions at Purple Ink Studios for this book yet, so at such time as she does, I'll probably do a separate post about them.


11 comments:

  1. I remember that quote about dusk. I have liked the word ever since. I haven't read this in years. I'll have to pull it off the shelf.

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    1. I have long preferred "dusk" to "twilight," and I'm guessing it's because of that passage.

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  2. Although it's hard to pick, I truly think this is my favourite Anne book. Of all the Anne books this is the one I remember how I felt as I read it. I had such a warm, cozy feeling. I love so many of the characters - Rebecca Dew, Elizabeth Grayson (with her many nicknames), Katherine Brooke, Mrs. Gibson and her daughter Pauline, and of course, Dusty Miller.
    I too appreciated the editing of the romantic parts - much better left to the imagination. :)
    I love the map she made with little Elizabeth. I've thought of doing one of my own.
    I just found out there was a 1940's movie made of this book. Have you seen it? I'm intrigued.

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    1. Jennifer, YES! I want to curl up in Anne's tower room at Windy Poplars and read books or daydream. So cozy.

      I remember my dad thought Elizabeth was "weird" for giving herself a different name depending on how she felt -- it's the first time I can recall disagreeing with him about something in a story. She made perfect sense to me.

      That map would be fun! Hmmmm, wondering what my kids would put on one if we made one together...

      Nope, never seen the 1940s movie. I see it stars Anne Shirley, who took her stage name from playing the role in the 1934 version of Green Gables, which I did see many, many years ago. Hmm, wonder if it's available anywhere?

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  3. I'm so glad you love this book! It seems to be a rather under-appreciated Anne book. :)

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    1. Natalie, you're right, Green Gables and Rilla get most of the attention, don't they?

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  4. I find your perspective on this book interesting. It's my personal least favorite (frankly, as far as I'm concerned, L.M. Montgomery could have stopped after Rilla of Ingleside without my being devastated). This book just has too many unrelated and inconsequential characters for me to like it very much. However, there are parts I like. Little Elizabeth, for one, and Nora's romance with Jim is so unusual that it is by far my favorite romance in this book. I was immensely annoyed on first reading it, however, to discover that this book has none of Gilbert's letters. I really would have enjoyed seeing some of the back and forth between them and not strictly Anne describing her life. (Though yes, the editing of most of the "mushy" parts amuses me too.)


    I was interested, though, how this book became the basis of a good bit of Anne of Avonlea in the well-known miniseries. I actually enjoyed the parts based on this book far more than I'd expected to there. They tied a lot of similar but unrelated characters together (and improved Anne's other "romance," in my humble opinion).

    I do like your idea about kindness and empathy being a theme in this book and winning over almost everybody else (not quite Hazel Marr, but that's beside the point :)). It does throw a new light on the book, and with that in mind, I may actually enjoy it more the next time through.
    -- Marcy

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    1. Marcy, Gilbert's letters would have been interesting too! A whole book from his perspective would have been cool. But this book isn't called Anne and Gilbert, and I think keeping the focus on Anne lends the book coherence.

      I liked the popping in and out of only tangentially related characters because it reminds me of real life. It's not tight writing, necessarily, but it's realistic.

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    2. After you have pointed out the good things about this book, I will enjoy it a good bit more the next time I read it, I think. At least I will be looking for the good you point out. Thanks for helping me enjoy this more.
      -- Marcy

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    3. Marcy, you're welcome! And good for you for being open to the possibility of liking it more next time around.

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