Friday, August 19, 2016

"Rainbow Valley" by L. M. Montgomery

Sigh.  I remember now why I didn't like this book much as a teen.  It's the same reason I still don't like it much now.

You'd think it's because, while the Meredith and Blythe children are fun and charming, after a while, it's just more of the same.  The Merediths get into trouble, the Blythes are their loyal chums, and Mary Vance yells at them over it.  But that's not what keeps me from liking Rainbow Valley.  The blame for that lies solely on the story of Rev. Meredith and Rosemary West's romance, and Rosemary's sister horridly insisting she can't marry him and has to abide by a promise she made years ago.  I can't stand it when people deliberately thwart other people's happiness, and Montgomery drags out that misery f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  I read the last seventeen chapters all today, just to get them over with so I didn't have to suffer through that dragged out nonsense for days and days.  It took me six weeks to get through the first half of the book because as soon as Rosemary West and Rev. John Meredith met up in Rainbow Valley, I remembered how their story went and didn't want to read the rest of the book.

Oh well.  I can't love every book.

Particularly Good Bits:

It is never quite safe to think we have done with life.  When we imagine we have finished our story fate has a trick of turning the page and showing us yet another chapter (p. 89).

"Anything I can't analyse in the eating line I call macanaccady and anything wet that puzzles me I call shallamagouslem (p. 116).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  It's clean and nice, if not wonderful.

This is my 44th book read and reviewed for The Classics Club, and my 13th for the Women's Classic Literature Event.

Now it's time for Elyssa's questions for Rainbow Valley:

Q:  This book was totally centered around the Blythe small fry and their friends. Reading about their adventures in Rainbow Valley made me think of Anne’s days with the the Echo Lodge crew in Anne of Avonlea. It also made me think of Camp Laurence from Little Women, as well as sweet Betsy-Tacy moments. The innocence of childhood play is so lovely to read. Do you have any favorite Rainbow Valley moments? Did they remind you of other childhood moments from any other books?

A:  Well, whenever I think of this book, I think of the Meredith kids playing in the graveyard.  I quite like graveyards myself.  I took my own kids to play in a graveyard when we lived in Connecticut simply because it was the only place with lots of green grass and trees that was within walking distance of our apartment.

But no, nothing from this reminds me of other books.  At least, not at the moment.

Q:  Montgomery likes writing about romance lost (Captain Jim and Lost Margaret) or almost lost forever (Mr. Irving and Miss Lavender). What would you have done in Rosemary’s place? Would you have kept your promise to your sister and refused John Merideth despite loving him?

A:  Rather obviously, considering all the ranting I did in my review above, I think that whole thing with the promise to the sister was foolish.  I would not have done as she did.

Q:  We’ve said goodbye to Anne’s childhood long ago. This book is a farewell to the sweet childhood of the Blythe clan. This always makes me sad. While being an adult is a wonderful thing in so many ways, childhood always calls to us in one way or another. What do you miss about childhood?

A:  I hate saying goodbye to childhood, which is another reason this book makes me grumpy.  I miss very many things about childhood, especially the freedom to not cram every waking moment with some kind of activity and purpose.  I have had to learn to daydream while doing other things at the same time, and it's just not the same.


  1. Congrats on number 44 and 13!! I read the rest of the Anne series but I couldn't get myself to read this one or the 8th. I couldn't stand the thought of not being all on Anne! Anne of Green Gables is my favorite book. And I don't pick favorites.

    1. Thanks, MovieCritic! I think the first five Anne books are the best. But Green Gables and Windy Poplars remain my favorites. My first daughter's middle name is Anne after Anne Shirley.

  2. I too wasn't very bothered by the repetition and unoriginality of the Meredith and Blythe children's stories(although that was a problem too), but the romance didn't adhere to the quality of most L. M. Montgomery's love stories.

    I did think it was very sweet and unique. What bothered me was that I could predicted how it would end. Not that I'm usually very good at foreseeing plot twists, but I loved how the previous Anne books had always kept me guessing.

    Oh, and I found Anne to be flattened and squeezed into the stereotype of a "perfect mother" instead of a more mature version of the character from "Anne of Green Gables".

    Oh well. I hear Rilla of Ingleside is awesome, so hopefully my experience with the series can end on a more positive note. :)

    1. Meredith, yes, it's a sweet and unique love story. But so horribly drawn-out! Grr.

      And there wasn't nearly enough Anne. Which is why it's not called Anne of Rainbow Valley, I guess.

      I recall liking Rilla of Ingleside better than this one, but not as well as the Anne books. We shall soon see if that still holds true! I did like Anne's House of Dreams waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better now than I ever did as a teen.

  3. The whole Rosemary-West-John-What's-His-Face thing bothers me a lot, too. You know, I sometimes feel like LM Montgomery ENJOYED torturing her characters with impossible dilemmas and long-forgotten promises and whatnot. It's just . . . silly.

    1. Jessica, you know, she did a LOT of keeping people apart, didn't she? Even Anne and Gilbert. Could be something fishy going on there.

    2. Didn't she have some very unhappy love affairs herself? I seem to remember that she did . . . Maybe that's part of the answer.

    3. I'm not sure. I know she had several suitors, and ended an engagement to one, then eventually married a minister.

  4. It's like the farther we go into the Anne series, the more I like it and the less you like it. :P I have to admit, though, that except for a few bits, Rainbow Valley isn't really one of my favorite books in the series. If I want to read about the Blythe children, I'll read Rilla or Anne of Ingleside. (Speaking of RoI, I'm really interested to read your review of that. :))

    And I agree with you about the romantic subplot: stupid, frustrating, and drawn out far too long.


    1. Eva, isn't that funny? I'm very interested to see what I'm going to think of ROI this time through too.

  5. Interesting. I basically enjoyed this book; at least I like it a lot better than the previous one. I do wish there was a little more of Anne's children in here rather than the children of the manse, but oh well. Some of their adventures are rather fun, and Norman Douglas always makes me laugh. I love your second quote; it's one of my favorites.

    I actually don't mind the romance, though I can quite easily see why you would. In some senses I suppose it is rather ridiculous, and yet I like Rosemary for refusing to break her plighted word. And Una's bravery at the end always touches me.

    Result: This isn't my favorite of the Anne books, but I don't dislike it at all either.

    1. Marcy, yes, old Whiskers-on-the-Moon is always good for a laugh, isn't he?

      I don't think the romance is ridiculous -- it's too realistic for my comfort, actually. There are stubborn, selfish people in this world who would do just what Rosemary's sister does, and that both frightens and infuriates me. I cannot abide bullies.

    2. Ahh, okay. Now I understand your objections much better. I can't abide bullies either, or rather what they do. I do understand Ellen to a degree, so I don't vehemently dislike her, but if this wasn't a novel and if everything didn't work out so neatly in the end, I think I would be furious with her. (This is when I'm glad this story is in a book like Anne that I know will come out right in the end! :))
      -- Marcy


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