Rilla of Ingleside

Our rating: ****

Rilla Blythe is Anne’s youngest child and practically fifteen. Her very first party is ruined by the news of World War I. One by one, her older brothers and friends leave to fight, leaving her at home to wait and watch through the war. Of course, Rilla being Anne’s daughter means that she must have her share of mishaps, including bringing home a war baby in a soup tureen.

The Anne of Green Gables series takes a plunge into historical fiction for its final book and does remarkably well. I felt that some of the previous books in the series were missing out on a through line, so Rilla was a welcome surprise. It possibly has the biggest story arc in all eight books. I remember disliking it when I was younger, but this time around, I think it may be one of my favorites in the series.

Anne’s House of Dreams

Our rating: ***½

Anne and Gilbert finally get married and move into their house of dreams. What follows is the account of their life there and their interactions with their new neighbors. There’s Miss Cornelia, who has some fun quirks; Captain Jim, a retired sailor; and then there’s Leslie, whose tragic life makes Anne reach out to her.

And really, there’s not much of a throughline here. Most of this fifth Anne book involves small, one or two chapter stories. We get plenty of L. M. Montgomery’s signature Anne humor and heartwarming here, though, and it only gets better with the second read. I do prefer some of the other books in the series better, but I did find this one quite enjoyable.

Anne of the Island

Our rating: ****

Anne is off to college! There she meets many new friends and stays in touch with just as many old ones. In between exams, finding the perfect house to rent, various escapades, and college social life, Anne must accept that she has grown up. Which means entertaining a few suitors…

Anne of the Island follows a somewhat more condensed style as four years of college are condensed into a single book. This feels rather rushed to me, especially with the suitors bit of my synopsis going on. It’s no secret that Anne discovers somebody she loves by the end of the book, but with the time so squished together, I never felt like I got to know some of her options. That’s really my biggest complaint, though, and it’s certainly no reason to pass up this delightful third Anne book.

Emily’s Quest

Our rating: ****

Even Aunt Elizabeth has to admit that Emily has grown up. And despite discouragements and setbacks, Emily continues to pursue her dream as a writer. But more importantly, although she knows she loves Teddy, he seems to have forgotten her. And when he leaves to go far away to art school, she doesn’t know what to do. She tries to forget him, but all the while she can’t help but listen for the whistled three notes in Lofty John’s bush—their special signal since childhood.

A wonderful conclusion to the Emily series. A lot more happens in the book than I’ve brought up in my summary, a lot of it humorous, and all of it beautifully and simply written. L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series may be the most well-known, but this little trilogy should not be missed.

Emily Climbs

Our rating: ****

Picking up where Emily of New Moon left off, Emily Climbs continues the story of Emily and her ambitions to become a writer. As the book opens we find Emily despairing over the fact that her three best friends (Ilse, Teddy, and Perry) are all going away to Shrewsbury for school, but her aunt Elizabeth will not let her go. Things change, however, when Aunt Elizabeth decides that Emily may go to Shrewsbury, but only if she promises not to write any fiction for the three years she will be there. And so Emily resigns herself to writing only words which are “strictly true,” staying with her nasty aunt Ruth, and trying to get some of her poetry (which is “strictly true”) published.

Alright, one thing must be said before I go any further: Boys, take note. I am about to highly recommend what you may call a book for girls only. Emily Climbs most definitely does not fall into that category. Are we clear? Good. Now you may go on to the rest of the review.

Writers, I don’t know about you, but I found Emily Climbs quite inspiring. Beyond that, however, I found L. M. Montgomery’s style of “biographer” quite to my tastes. I love how she inserts notes from herself at points in the story where she feels that she must comment on Emily’s behavior. Oh, and Montgomery obviously understands cats, so cat lovers will get a kick out of Emily’s cat comments. Don’t think this book is all seriousness, either. Emily and her friends get into many hilarious scrapes, much to the delight of the reader. Overall, this is one to cherish, reread, and pass on to the next generation of bookworms.