In the past, I've always faded away from reading the concluding books in the Anne series. After Anne of Ingleside, the story strays away from Anne and focuses on her children and their playmates. I've always been vastly more interested in Anne as the subject.
However, this time I really enjoyed reading Rainbow Valley which is the seventh book in the series. It's true, Anne makes periodic appearances in this book and is mostly referenced as Mrs. Blythe by the focal characters in this tale. We find Anne removed from the scene (and Gilbert only has one line! Gasp!) and her children romping about and playing with the new minister's children, the Merediths. Anne and Gilbert are proud parents to six little ones, only four of which are really featured in this particular volume.
The majority of the story highlights the Meredith family who are new to Ingleside. Their father is a the new minister and widower who seldom takes notice of his four children. Tongues are wagging all over Ingleside as the Meredith children get into one scrap after another - in typical Anne style. They are "basically good" children who have a knack for trouble to spite themselves and their poor neglectful father. He is wallowing in grief. They are trying to get by. They Meredith kids make friends with the Blythes and spend many happy hours playing in their magical playground which they have named Rainbow Valley. (Hence the title for the book, of course!)
You'll find some familiar characters from Ingleside, such as Susan, Anne's faithful housekeeper turned Blythe family member. Of course, Miss Cornelia still exists to fulfill the role of Mrs. Rachel Lynde. She is well meaning but quite the gossip and always up in arms about what those "manse children" are doing! Such a shocking disgrace they are to the Presbyterian faith! What WILL the Methodists say!?
As I mentioned, previously I haven't been able to really get into this book. I've missed Anne. However, this time I read it and rather thoroughly enjoyed it and wasn't a lick disappointed not to get to know Anne very well as a mother. I think the reason why is because once you become a mother and have children, most of your life is given away to them anyway. When you talk with friends, you have to resist the urge not to speak about your children constantly. Why? Because they are your life. You laugh at the silly things they say. You tell stories on them, to them and encourage them in their pursuits. ME-time is rightfully over. Motherhood cannot be a selfish pursuit and if it is, then motherhood is actually more of a burden than a blessing. With that said, Anne fading into the background seems almost right somehow. No, I do not get to know her children through her eyes. Instead I see her through theirs. That's an interesting perspective and the story stays focused on children at play. I just rather liked it.
The only thing I really notice about Montgomery now that I've read some of her diaries and her biography (linked to my review) is how little she understood God. Even though Montgomery was a minister's wife, she writes about a minister with a complete lack of understanding. She raises theological questions and then either fails to answer them or demonstrates that she doesn't know how to answer them. It's mildly shocking and mostly just sad. Clearly her husband did not care to minister to his wife's soul because complete lack of understanding runs throughout this book. I had a hard time ignoring that. Yet I do think I have come to accept it as part of who the author was.
Montgomery is a great story teller. She delights and makes her readers laugh and cry. I like her style, even with its flaws. The books are what they are and I merely mean to enjoy them.