Book Review: Rilla of Ingleside

11 January 2011

I am not going to waste any time; let us get right to the purpose of this post. :)

Rilla of Ingleside
By L.M. Montgomery

Anne's children are all grown, except for her youngest, Rilla. At fifteen--nearly sixteen--years of age, Rilla wants nothing more than to go to balls and parties, wearing her prettiest dresses, and to be noticed by handsome Kenneth Ford. As quite the prettiest girl in the family, she already is aware of her beauty and often uses it to her advantage. This flighty and shallow nature worries her mother, Anne, for she wants her children to have more aspirations and ambitions in life than Rilla seems to desire. 

But shadows are on the horizion--shadows that will change Rilla's life forever. With the war going on, one by one her brothers and chums leave to fight the brave battle on foreign shores. Rilla does her part as well, organizing a Red Cross group for younger girls, and mothering a little orpan she finds in a soup tureen. News of the war is carried almost daily to the ears of the mothers, sisters, and wives in Glen St. Mary. Will they ever see their beloved husbands and sons again?

This last Anne book, althought very sad at times, is one of my favorites. I absolutely love Rilla's personality. However, I think that, if I knew her in person, I would not like her quite so much. (And I never will understand her aversion to babies.) But Rilla is a very interesting character. I love how we get to see her grow up throughout the story, and watch how she learns that life is not all about moonlight dances, party dresses, and having a good time. Her character blossoms beautifully as she matures.

In the beginning of the story, Rilla is quite content, or so she says, to be the "dunce" in the family. Here is what she says in Chapter II, titled "Dew of Morning":

"I never cared for all those ologies and isms Nan and Di are so crazy about. There's five of us going to college already. Surely that's enough. There's bound to be one dunce in every family. I'm quite willing to be a dunce if I can be a pretty, popular, delightful one. I have no talent at all, and you can't imagine how comfortable it is. Nobody expects me to do anything. And I can't be a housewifely, cookly creature, either. I hate sewing and dusting, and when Susan couldn't teach me to make biscuits nobody could. Father says I toil not neither do I spin. Therefore, I must be a lily of the field."

From that quote we can see a very clear view of her heart, of her wants in life, of what she thinks will bring her true happiness. I'm glad to say that she has a change of heart by the end of the book.

I found this book to be far more serious than the previous books. It has a solemn tone to it, a tone that is unknown to every other book in this series. All of Anne's trials and tribulations seem minute in comparison to the immense sadness of book #8. It is quite the tear-jerker. There were moments, when I was reading it, when I would have to put the book down and go outside for a walk, or talk to my sisters--just so I could clear my head from all the sadness.

But enough about the sad elements of Rilla of Ingleside. There are still many parts that make me smile and warm my heart, such as the scenes between Rilla and Kenneth Ford (who is, by the way, the son of Leslie Ford of Anne's House of Dreams). He is ever a gentleman, with a merry way of speaking; she a pretty young girl with all the usual emotions experienced by any young lady when a gentleman shows her particular attention. It would seem almost too perfect if it weren't for Rilla's habit of lisping at the most untimely of moments. This makes the story delightfully natural and human, as opposed to stiff and too-perfect-to-be-true.


Another sweet element in this story: faithful Dog Monday. I will say no more than that, so as not to spoil it for those who have not read Rilla, but for those who have... you know what I mean. :)

The one theme in this book that is slightly unsettling is the faith put in the haunting dreams of a certain Miss Oliver. Gertrude Oliver is the schoolteacher who is living with the Blythes, and she often has very vivid, haunting dreams about the outcome of the war. I don't think L.M. Montogomery meant to say that we should always try to seek out meanings from our dreams, but Miss Oliver in Rilla of Ingleside certainly does so. Anne, of course, does not agree with such superstitions, but the "spooky" element is still there, and something for which you should look out.

This book is a great coming-of-age story, and one that, despite the sadness, is beautful none the less.

A BIT O' READING FOR THE DAY

"Before this war is over," [Walter] said - or something said through his lips - "every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it - you, Mary, will feel it - feel it to your heart's core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come - and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over - years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break."  ~Rilla of Ingleside, chapter 4


P.S. I'm linking this post to Hannah's Book Love link-up.


9 epistles:

  1. This is my favorite of the entire series! I've read the series probably close to about 5-6 times. Besides Rilla of Ingleside, the first one is my favorite.

    ~Stephanie

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  2. Gasp! I loved this book. You did a beautiful job at reviewing this book, Elizabeth Rose. :D

    And I LOVED 'Blueberries for Sal',too. It was such a sweet book, huh?

    Blessings,
    Emily

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  3. I've read all eight Anne books and this one is my favorite. :) I've read it twice...and wouldn't mind reading it again. I also cried both times I read it. But I totally love this book! :)

    Katie

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  4. Oh, I love that book! I was curious what you would say about it... and you did a lovely review. :) It is a heartbreakingly sad book, but so beautiful.

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  5. This is my second favorite (second only to Anne of the Island). I love the sad parts, the happy parts and the way they all work together to make a beautiful story.

    Love and hugs your way,
    Näna

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  6. I haven't read any more than the first two Anne books, but I've really been meaning to reread them and read the entire series:) Loved your very review of this book, Elizabeth, and thanks so much for linking up!

    Love,
    Hannah

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  7. I loved this book too! We own it and I've had to re-read it recently. But, unlike most books, I enjoyed re-reading Rilla of Ingleside.

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  8. Hi Elizabeth,

    I've been here on your blog before, but this is my first time to become a follower.

    The entire Anne series is superb, and Rilla's book is a favorite of mine. I have considered changing my name (Tarissa) to Rissa... just because it's more like Rilla. {just kind of kidding there!}

    You wrote a very clear & precise review for Rilla of Ingleside. Well done!
    ~ Tarissa

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