Category Archives: Books

Let’s Get Started

Wow, it’s been over a year since my last post? Yeah, that’s sounds about right. I wish I could say that I’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail or went on a ‘Round-The-World cruise on the QE3. No. I’ve just been living a quiet, dull life and writing a blog just didn’t fit. But now I feel the spirit leading me to write again.

Let’s get started….I just finished L.M. Mongomery’s, Emily of New Moon, and here’s an excerpt that struck me. Discuss amongst yourselves:

“And you won’t be ashamed of me because my clothes are always queer and because I don’t believe in God?”

“No. But if you knew Father’s God you’d believe in Him.”

“I wouldn’t. Besides, there’s only one God if there is any at all.”

“I don’t know,” said Emily perplexedly. “No, it can’t be like that. Ellen Greene’s God isn’t a bit like Father’s, and neither is Aunt Elizabeth’s. I don’t think I’d like Aunt Elizabeth’s, but He is a dignified God at least, and Ellen’s isn’t. And I’m sure Aunt Laura’s is another one still – nice and kind but not wonderful like Father’s.”

“Well never mind – I don’t like talking about God,” said Ilse uncomfortably.

“I do,” said Emily. “I think God is a very interesting subject, and I’m going to pray for you, Ilse, that you can believe in Father’s God.”

“Don’t you dast!” shouted Ilse, who for some mysterious reason did not like the idea. “I won’t be prayed for!”

“Don’t you ever pray yourself, Ilse?”

“Oh, now and then – when I feel lonesome at night – or when I’m in a scrape. But I don’t want any one else to pray for me. If I catch you doing it, Emily Starr, I’ll tear your eyes out. And don’t you go sneaking and praying for me behind my back either.”

“All right, I won’t,” said Emily sharply, mortified at the failure of her well-meant offer. “I’ll pray for every single soul I know, but I’ll leave you out.”

For a moment Ilse looked as if she didn’t like this either. Then she laughed and gave Emily a volcanic hug.

“Well, anyway,, please like me. Nobody likes me, you know.”

That Anne Girl, VIII

Just before Christmas I finished the last Anne book, Rilla of Ingleside. It was a fine book but the characters didn’t draw me in; though I did cry at the death of a certain character. (No Spoilers!!!) I think Montgomery was glad to put her imaginary PEI friends to rest.

Here’s a piece from Rilla of Ingleside:

“Where are you wandering, Anne o’ mine?” asked the doctor, who even yet, after twenty-four years of marriage, occasionally addressed his wife thus when nobody was about. Anne was sitting on the veranda steps, gazing absently over the wonderful bridal world of spring blossom. Beyond the white orchard was a copse of dark young firs and creamy wild cherries, where the robins were whistling madly; for it was evening and the fire of early stars was burning over the maple grove.

Anne came back with a little sigh.

“I was just taking relief from intolerable realities in a dream, Gilbert – a dream that all our children were home again – and all small again – playing in rainbow Valley. It is always so silent now – but I was imagining I heard clear voices and gay, childish sounds coming up as I used to.”

[…]

The doctor did not answer. Sometimes his work tricked him into forgetting for a few moments the western front, but not often. There was a good deal of grey now in his still thick curls that had not been there two years ago. Yet he smiled down into the starry eyes he loved – the eyes that had once been so full of laughter, and now seemed always so full of unshed tears.

That Anne Girl VII

I’m starting the last of the Anne books. But at this point, actually since book 6, Anne of Ingleside, there has been less Anne and more the “Adventures of the Blythe Children.” I suppose that’s all right. Book 7, Rainbow Valley, was a fun read with childhood nostalgia and World War I foreshadowing thrown in for good measure.

Here’s my highlight from Rainbow Valley:

John Meredith was startled by her loveliness and Rosemary was startled by his presence. She had never thought she would find anyone by that remote spring, least of all the recluse of Glen St. Mary manse.

[…]

“I – I came for a drink,” she said, stammering a little in answer to Mr. Meredith’s grave “good evening, Miss West.” She felt that she was an unpardonable goose and she longed to shake herself. […] Her confusion put him at ease and he forgot to be shy; besides, even the shyest of men can sometimes be quite audacious in moonlight.

“Let me get you a cup,” he said smiling. There was a cup near by, if he had only known it, a cracked, handleless blue cup secreted under the maple by the Rainbow Valley children; but he did not know it, so he stepped out to one of the birch-trees and stripped a bit of its white skin away. Deftly he fashioned this into a three-cornered cup, filled it from the spring, and handed it to Rosemary.

Rosemary took it and drank every drop to punish herself for her fib, for she was not in the least thirsty, and to drink a fairly large cupful of water when you are not thirsty is somewhat of an ordeal. Yet the memory of that draught was to be very pleasant to Rosemary. In later years it seemed to her that there was something sacremental about it.

That Anne Girl VI

I just finished book 6, Anne of Ingleside. This one felt like Montgomery had trouble getting through it. At turns, I had to keep my interest in it. Rainbow Valley, #7, is a sweet read so far and I’m having no feelings of, “I’ve got to get to the end.”

From Anne of Ingleside:

April came tiptoeing in beautifully that year with sunshine and soft winds for a few days; and then a driving northeast snowstorm dropped a white blanket over the world again. “Snow in April is abominable,” said Anne. “Like a slap in the face when you expected a kiss.” Ingleside was fringed with icicles and for two long weeks the days were raw and the nights hardbitten. The the snow grudgingly disappeared and when the news went round that the first robin had been seen in the Hollow Ingleside plucked up heart and ventured to believe that the miracle of spring was really going to happen.

[…]

Spring was trying out her paces that day . . . like an adorable baby just learning to walk. The winter pattern of trees and fields was beginning to be overlaid with hints of green and Jem has again brought in the first mayflowers. But an enormously fat lady, sinking puffingly into one of the Ingleside easy-chairs, sighed and said sadly that the springs weren’t so nice as they were when she was young.

“Don’t you think perhaps the change is in us . . . not in the springs, Mrs. Mitchell?” smiled Anne.

That Anne Girl V

Last week I finished Anne’s House of Dreams. Cried twice, BTW. There is a common thread throughout all the Anne books (currently I’m reading Anne of Ingleside) of change and turning chapters in one’s life. Every life chapter is represented by a place, ie. Green Gables, Peggy’s Place, Windy Poplars, House of Dreams, and now Ingleside.

 There’s a haunting thread of nostalgia whenever Anne revisits these places, especially Avonlea. Lost girlhood? Lost Dreams? Yet, Anne seems to be happy in her present. I thought HoD much better than Anne of Windy Poplars which seemed to drag in sections.

Here’s my selection from Anne’s House of Dreams:

The Green Gables folk went home after Christmas. Marilla under solemn covenant to return for a month in the spring. More snow came before New Year’s, and the harbour froze over, but the gulf still was free, beyond the white, imprisoned fields. The last day of the year was one of those bright, cold dazzling winter days, which bombard us with their brilliancy, and command our admiration but never our love.

[…]

“The old year is going away beautifully,” said Anne. She and Leslie and Gilbert were on their way to the Four Winds Point, having plotted with Captain Jim to watch the New Year in at the light. The sun had set and in the southwestern sky hung Venus, glorious and golden, having drawn as near to her earth-sister as is possible for her. For the first time Anne and Gilbert saw the shadow cast by that brilliant star of evening, that faint, mysterious shadow, never seen save when there is white snow to reveal it, and then only with averted vision, vanishing when you gaze at it directly.

“It’s like the spirit of a shadow, isn’t it?” whispered Anne. “You can see it so plainly haunting your side when you look ahead; but when you turn and look at it – it’s gone.”

That Anne Girl IV

I just finished book #4, Anne of Windy Poplars, and I’m deep into Anne’s House of Dreams. Looks like I’m not going to finish the series by summer’s end, but somehow, it seems fitting that I begin Anne’s ‘adult’ married life in the autumn.

From Anne of Windy Poplars:

Poor Dear Gilbert,

‘I said of laughter, it is mad, and of mirth, what doeth?’ I’m afraid I’ll turn gray young…I’m afraid I’ll end up in the poorhouse…I’m afraid none of my pupils will pass their finals…Mr. Hamilton’s dog barked at me Saturday night and I’m afraid I’ll have hydrophobia…I’m afraid my umbrella will turn inside out when I keep a tryst with Katherine tonight…I’m afraid Katherine likes me so much now that she can’t always like me as much…I’m afraid my hair isn’t auburn after all…I’m afraid I’ll have a mole on the end of my nose when I’m fifty…I’m afraid my school is a fire trap…I’m afraid I’ll find a mouse in my bed tonight…I’m afraid you got engaged to me just because I was always around…I’m afraid I’ll soon be picking at the counterpane.

[…]

Gilbert darling, don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us, even if it brings scads of trouble and typhoid and twins!

[…]

Gilbert, I’m afraid I’m scandalously in love with you. You don’t think it’s irreverent, do you? But then, you’re not a minister.

That Anne Girl III

If only there were more Gilbert Blythes and Anne Shirleys in the world. From “Anne of Avonlea:”

Gilbert stretched himself out on the ferns beside the Bubble and looked approvingly at Anne. If Gilbert had been asked to describe his ideal woman the description would have answered point for point to Anne, even to those seven tiny freckles whose obnoxious presence still continued to vex her soul. Gilbert was as yet little more than a boy; but a boy has his dreams as have others, and in Gilbert’s future there was always a girl with big, limpid gray eyes, and a face as fine and delicate as a flower. He had made up his mind, also, that his future must be worthy of its goddess. Even in quiet Avonlea there were temptations to be met and faced. White Sands youth were a rather “fast” set, and Gilbert was popular wherever he went. But he meant to keep himself worthy of Anne’s friendship and perhaps some distant day her love; and he watched over word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes were to pass in judgement on it. She held over him the unconscious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, wields over her friends; an influence which would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals and which she would as certainly lose, if she were ever false to them. In Gilbert’s eyes Anne’s greatest charm was the fact that she never stooped to the small jealousies, the little deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor.  Anne held herself apart from all this, not consciously or of design, but simply because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in its motives and aspirations.