Rilla of Ingleside is the 8th book in the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery. Most little girls read Ann of Green Gables at some point, it’s a vague right of passage I suppose. Montgomery prepares you for Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. She’s flowery in her prose, heavy in her dialogue, and the action is rarely seen. But still it’s delightful reading of time past where things were different.
The series goes from Green Gables where Anne is a young girl accidentally adopted into a farm family, they really wanted a boy. But they kept her anyway. If you read all eight books it goes through high school, college, teaching, Anne marries, her early married life, and then books 7 and 8 are about her children for the most part with just dashes of Anne. So why is Rilla my favorite?
Rilla takes place during World War I. And I know that’s my area of expertise, which means I’m not exactly a neutral party to start, but I love the way Montgomery works it all in. She hints that the war is coming, or at least it’s a hinting if you have any knowledge of World War I, while she gives us a solid understanding of 15 year old Rilla, who is beautiful, shallow, and cares only for enjoying herself.
Then we get the war experience told primarily from the point of view of those left at home. The efforts they go through, the pain, the fear, the ever lasting struggle to have hope that the war will end and their men will come home again. Balanced against letters from the front.
There are a few things that strike me when I read this every time.
A) People do what needs to be done because it needs to be done. They don’t whine that someone should do X because it needs to be done. They do X themselves.
B) The oldest boy’s dog refuses to come home from the train station after his master goes off to war. Four and a half years the dog lives on the station platform waiting. And people talk about it in the book. Not that he’s a dumb dog but if such a simple animal can give up so much of it’s life on faith, how can we as “superior beings” fail.
The damn book makes me cry every time. In fact given half a chance, I start crying on page one and cry right on through to the end. But then I’m a sap for things like duty and honor. Things that seem gone these days.
℘℘℘℘℘ – Five pages. I do love this book. There’s something to be said for a book that can wring emotion from you even upon it’s tenth reading.