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Anne’s House of Dreams
by L.M. Montgomery
1922

Anne’s own true love Gilbert was finally a doctor and now they no longer needed to live apart. They married quite simply and began life together in their own little dream house where Anne met new neighbours, made new friends, and solved new problems. But she was still the same Anne – spirited and full of surprise.

Continuing on with #GreenGablesReadlong, for the fifth month is the fifth book – Anne’s House of Dreams. I didn’t remember much of this novel when I picked it up, the wedding felt familiar and I would always remember their ‘House of Dreams’, but certain characters i’ve forgotten over the years and the situations that had happened. I have also developed some grudges against some of the story that I didn’t mean to create. As much as i do love the story and the style, there were still these hidden society issues that I do not agree with and shows how much women have come since L.M.M. age.

The story begins with Anne and Gilbert’s wedding, something we readers have been looking forward to for the past couple of books. It is just as wonderful as I remembered it. A simple wedding at Green Gables – the first at Green Gables too. Full of friends and family, Anne and Gilbert finally tie the knot and head off to their new home in Four Winds.  It is wonderful to finally see Anne and Gilbert together in this book, we finally see their relationship in full swing. It is something I think we were all missing out on. Their first year seemed almost magical, even with Gilbert working so often the two still managed to find time for themselves and enjoy each other’s company.

Their home, a simple cottage is located just outside of the town Gilbert is to take over the doctor practice from his uncle. It is along the shore, with the lighthouse within sight’s view. A wonderful garden and stream along the back is exactly what Anne had always wanted and dream and she takes an immediate attachment to the place and quickly makes it her own.

We meet their first new friend – Captain Jim – that first night. I completely fell in love with him. I love the character, elderly but full of life, full of stories of his adventures on the sea and so warm and caring towards Anne and Gilbert. It is no wonder the two become quick and close friends. He fills them in with the story of the cottage, of the man who built it for his wife, the years they spent together and other owners over the years. He’s seen it all and is always willing to share his stories with Anne and Gilbert.

Later, we meet another friend – Cornelia Bryant. I have mixed feelings about her. For the first half of the book I really liked the woman, she was feisty and had this tag line “just like a man”, she adds to many of her stories of the stupidity of men she had ran across. At the beginning it is funny, and we can relate to some of those silly acts men can do. However, by the second half of the book I begin to feel the negativity behind her words. It wasn’t fun anymore but mean-spirited and sometimes cruel. I was tired of this by now and the ramblings just became that – ramblings that I had no interest in reading. What made things worse was when Gilbert had come up with a cure for Mr. Moore. Or potential one. Everyone is against him, as he was a mean man before the accident left him acting like a child. Everyone says he is better like this. It is also the first real fight Anne and Gilbert have – which I am glad. But when Cornelia hears of it and comes over to speak her mind, and Gilbert isn’t there, she takes it all out on Anne. Insulting her husband to her face. I have to admire the patience Anne has with her at that time, because if it was me, even if I disagree with my husband I would not stand there and take that kind of verbal abuse and would have kicked Cornelia out of my home until she apologizes.

I have dealt with people with this negative view on the world and people before and I do not like it. It leaves you with this sour taste afterwards and that is not something I want to feel. I have a positive view on many things and I don’t want one person bringing me down like that. Cornelia is a character, I grant you that, but is not a character I would like to include in my group of friends.

Now I come to the third main friend of the Blythes. Leslie Moore. She is my favourite character of the book. I love her story arc, and her personality. She is so human in so many ways that I am drawn to her. I can understand her when she tells Anne how perfect she looks and acts during their first year of marriage, and was jealous and hateful towards her. I too was getting a little sick of the perfect marriage to the perfect man living in the perfect house myself. Leslie’s history was filled with trauma of all sorts and ended up forced to marry a man she did not love. When Mr. Moore returned from being lost at sea and has been reduced to a child’s mind and unable to take care of himself, she is stuck looking after him and their property. From that, her bitterness towards Anne is reasonable even though at the same time she wanted that contact of a friend. This inner conflict made her so wonderful to me, and the way she could finally overcome it once Anne’s perfect world crumbles a bit with the loss of Joyce.

***

So, now that I’ve covered much of what I enjoyed in the book, it’s time for me to vent some of the frustrations I had with it.

We got a peek of this in Windy Poplars, but it comes full circle now when Anne has given up her career for marriage and motherhood. I understand this is a product of the times, and that woman rarely continued on with their careers or education when they get married. I found it very disheartening when Anne put away her teacher’s career, mostly because she really enjoyed it. She spent years getting her B.A., only to use it for three years as a principal in Summerside and pack it away afterwards.  I’ve been told by several people that was just how things were back then – but it’s still sad to me to read about this in our modern times.

Another issue was with Anne’s own confidence with her writing skills. It still stated that she writes, but that her writing seemed directed towards children books and ‘frilly’ things. I’m at least glad she still writes, however, when they meet Captain Jim and discover his life book full of his adventures on sea, Anne muses how wonderful it would be to edit it into a book for all to read. I am proud of Gilbert to suggest Anne should do this, but disappointed that Anne turns that suggestion down. I understand that writing outside of your genre can be difficult, but I would have trusted Anne to find a way through. But she turns it down saying it’s not her style and she couldn’t writing anything that adventurous. Of course, she is behind the scheme to get Owen Ford to write it instead and does help edit it with him. What was the main slap in my face was when Captain Jim agrees to the book and says that ‘woman aren’t real writers’. I almost cried at that line as why would Captain Jim say such a thing? I love his character so much but that just cut me in the heart. I have to assume this is some sort of statement she is making or heard and threw it in for some bigger reason that I am unaware of.

The third issue I wanted to make was the pregnancy’s in the book. Anne is pregnant twice during the course of this book, and both times I felt like an idiot for not realizing she was pregnant at all. At no time did LMM come out and say “Anne was pregnant” or that she was carrying a child – her belly was growing – you know something that would clearly tell the reader that something wonderful is happening in her life. Even with the birth of Joyce, and the hardships and complications that went on with it, took me several paragraphs to realize what exactly they meant with Anne being ‘sick’. Seriously I thought it was something else like the flu or some other disease until they talked about the baby and I could finally put one and one together. Which leads me to another issue I remember reading when I started writing – always write were the action is. During this scene we were nowhere near Anne during the hardship, only afterwards.

Jem’s birth was even less descriptive with a sudden paragraph with the baby already born. There was NO lead up to that in my point of view, but if you all found other lines that gave you warning, let me know! I have to conclude this was a very taboo subject on 1922, even in fiction writing. I of course don’t want all the details, but just some sort of sentence to at least to give us readers some preparation would be nice.

***

Small grudges aside, the book was still very pleasant and I did enjoy it all the same. We end off the book with Leslie’s life all turned, finally free of her ‘husband’, she could finally marry Owen with whom she had fallen in love with. Captain Jim unfortunately passes away (sorry for the spoiler) but was able to see his life book in person and know that his stories will live on. Even Cornelia Bryant get’s married – something that was more of a shock than Leslie’s. In the end, a house in the Glen is up for sale and Gilbert tells Anne it’s time to move to a larger house closer to his patients. Of course Anne is upset, and doesn’t want to leave her home, but she can not argue with Gilbert for long as the move is too logical. But, no matter where Anne’s life turns, their years along the shore will always be memorable.

Up next for June is Anne of Ingleside. Honestly – have NO memory of this book so I should be presently surprised when I begin to read it.

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