Rilla of Ingleside
Anne’s children were almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. Rilla wasn’t yet fifteen and she was still looking forward to her first dance and her first kiss. But undreamed-of challenges awaited irrepressible Rilla when the happy world of Ingleside was endangered by a fearful far-off war. Rilla must join her courageous family in a dramatic struggle that would change her life and leave Rilla no longer a girl but a proud woman.
This is the only book out of the entire Anne series that I have never read before. I guess there’s a part of me who dreaded reading the ‘last’ book and always kept it on my bookshelf for a later day. I’m glad that this #GreenGablesReadalong series came along and to be able to read all the Anne books once more, even the very last one.
A lot of my friends talk about this book as being their favourite and I was a bit skeptical going in. What if I didn’t find it as impressive as everyone else? What if the last book was a let down? Some of the other books in the series – reading them as an adult now did let me down, and I was worried this one would too. But I’m happy to inform you that it didn’t.
Rilla of Ingleside is a terrific book, a great insight into how the First World War affected those still on Canadian soil. We follow Rilla, the youngest of Anne and Gilbert’s children during the four years of the First World War. We see the young girl grow and change from a silly, selfish girl to a mature, responsible young woman. All the while watching how the war affected those in the Ingleside household, the ups and downs, the worries and fears.
I will admit the first few chapters of Rilla was hard to get through. I really detested the little girl, her friloulous ways and selfish attitude. It was annoying and if it hadn’t been for Rilla finding little baby Jims and taking the poor suffering baby home with her, she may never have changed. Rilla disliked babies, yet when she stopped in a at a neighbours house to collected donations for the Red Cross, she found the baby, with his dead mother. It was either leave it with Mrs Conovor (not a good option) or take it with her. She did and her father made her promise that if she kept him, she would have to look after him. She could not drop the baby’s care off on Susan or Anne.
Rilla took up the challenge and raised the baby herself, and the book became a much more enjoyable read now that Rilla had that responsibility. The book shifted at that moment, it was like a snap of the fingers and Rilla finally matured and became a character you actually cared about.
There were sad parts along the way, there has to be with a war on hand. All three of Anne’s sons leave for the war, and only two come back. It was a heartbreaking scene when we learn one had died at the front, yet there is strength in Ingleside house, it took a while but the women left behind were able to pull through the tragedy and continue to hold on to hope that the war will soon end.
What I found interesting throughout the book was the details associated with the war, the important strategic holds in France, the generals and Germans. At times I felt that I was really watching parts of a documentary as we went along, who took what, and the significance of it all. Some of it was a bit boring and over the top, but I guess during the war – that was what everyone talked about and little else.
There were a number of other small side stories to the book, including Susan getting a proposal from Whiskers on the Moon, and Rilla and Jims accidentally breaking into a strangers house during a rain storm. Those scenes helped break the monotony of the war and gave life to the characters.
In the end, the book was one of the best Anne books i’ve ever read. I’m happy that Rilla eventually gets what she had been hoping for all her life. It’s a little sad that Rilla has no ambition to continue her education, but the war had made her into a incredible woman. She found her strengths and talents and with her ‘fiancé’ home from the war, we know she will have a wonderful life with him.