Goodreads: Rainbow Valley
Series: Anne of Green Gables #7
A new minister and his family have moved into the manse. The Meredith children, however, are motherless and their antics are scandalizing the neighborhood. From playing in the Methodist graveyard to showing up to church without stockings, nothing seems beyond them. The Blythe children, however, are always ready to play and Mrs. Dr. Blythe remains their staunch defender.
Rainbow Valley is classic Montgomery and everything enchanting. The focus moves from Anne and her family to the Meredith children who, like Anne herself, tend to act first and think later. Their innocent revelries are the cause of much consternation in the congregation. Poor Miss Cornelia is not sure she will ever be able to face the Methodists again! The combination of childhood joys, heartbreaks, and fancies, along with the gossip of the locals provides a perceptive look at life in a small town where nothing is ever dull and the tragedies of old maids are as great as the tragedies of queens.
Readers who miss the Anne of Green Gables days will delight in Rainbow Valley. The manse children, though well-meaning, get up to all kinds of humorous high jinks. Their desire to do good always seems to go awry in a way that is very reminiscent of our favorite redhead. However, they distinguish themselves from Anne because their mishaps are often intentional–they simply do not understand the social mores of Glen St. Mary. They go at life with vim and are confused when the staid old maids gossip as a result.
The gossip is, as always, both riveting and the target of Montgomery’s wit. Montgomery makes small town trials and tragedies come alive, showing that passion is not confined to only higher segments of society. But the gossip often centers around trivial matters when little else is happening. Thus, the ladies of Glen St. Mary unconsciously couple stories of jilted lovers and vengeful wives with shocked whispers about the doings of the manse children, as if a childhood prank exists on the level of seriousness. The ladies become a little humorous themselves even as they tell the silly doings of the children.
Rainbow Valley is sure to please any fan of L. M. Montgomery. However, it also has much to recommend it to any casual reader. It enters sympathetically into the world of childhood and brings readers back to the innocence of imagination. But it also contains a keen wit and perceptive characterization as it charts the deaths, births, marriages, and courtings of Glen St. Mary. The characters seem real, so real that leaving them feels like leaving friends.