Goodreads: Anne of Ingleside
Series: Anne #6
Now married with five (and soon to be six) children, Anne Blythe finds that life never has a dull moment. Nan and Di struggle to make friends in school, Jem desperately wants a dog who will love him, and Walter dreams and writes poetry. And whenever they need advice? It’s Mummy who understands best. Anne may no longer live in her House of Dreams, but she’s more than contented where she is.
Anne of Ingleside is a treat because, well, any book that brings us more of Anne, her family, and P.E.I. cannot help but be. Still, even I, as an avid L. M. Montgomery fan, must admit that the book feels a little uneven. It moves between focusing on Anne, her dreams, and her worries about her relationship with Gilbert to focusing the fancies and tragedies of her children. Is it a book about a midlife crisis or a book about childhood? It’s a little hard to tell.
If I am honest with myself, I did not fully enjoy the chapters focusing on Anne’s brood. Rainbow Valley is the book for that. The children’s struggles with making friends or keeping a pet alive felt out of place when juxtaposed with Anne’s struggle to remove Gilbert’s overbearing aunt from their household and her worries that her husband might not find her interesting or attractive anymore. I wanted this to be Anne’s book. I wanted to see how she would navigate middle-age. If the chapters on her children had focused more on Anne’s response to them, I might have enjoyed them more and I might have felt the narrative less uneven.
Many reviewers have criticized the book for depicting Anne as a happy housewife. I have no problem with this. To say that the book deserves a low rating because Anne only writes sometimes and prefers to take care of her family is to rate it 1) based on modern ideals of what a woman’s life “should” look like and 2) based on a personal feeling that having a career is more important than having a family. To me, feminism means respecting the choices of women when they say they are doing what makes them happy and fulfilled. If Anne is happy and fulfilled as a housewife, we should support her, not criticize her as not being feminist enough. (And, if you want a Montgomery heroine who does put her writing career first, there is always the Emily of New Moon trilogy.)
Anne of Ingleside may, unfortunately, be the most lackluster of the Anne series. It feels a little as if Montgomery’s heart were not in it. Even a chapter in which the Ladies Aid gossips about the townsfolk feels somehow less ironic and witty than is Montgomery’s wont. Still, any glimpse of Anne’s life is welcome to me. I’m glad we get to see a little bit of it, even if the execution does not seem up to Montgomery’s usual standards.
Need more Montgomery? Check out our infographic featuring some of her other books.
Today I’m joining in with the Anne of Green Gables series read-along hosted by Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf and Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku. You can find the details here if you would like to read along, catch up with reading along, or join in with some of the bonus posts!