Wow– I thought I would never see y’all again by mid-last-week. I came down with a summer cold (worst), and now with changes at work and some personal things we are deep in the busiest time of the year for me. But it feels good to get a review posted. Anyway– After reading Anne of Windy Poplars, I will admit I wasn’t all that excited to pick up Anne’s House of Dreams. But — oh– am I glad I did! This beautiful little novel reminds me why I just adore this series so much. To think it could get better!
Continuing the journey of Anne Shirley’s, now Anne Blythe, life the reader is brought into a new chapter as the newlyweds move to Four Winds Harbor. Gilbert has graduated medical school and will be the resident doctor. Gilbert knows his bride and finds a tiny old cottage perfect for his dreamy-headed bride. Nestled near a corner of the woods, with a view of the harbor, a beautiful 60+-year-old garden, and all the strange shaped rooms Anne could ever want, the couple moves into Anne’s “house of dreams”. It isn’t long before our couple makes close friends with some neighbors. And thus begins the most detailed and nuanced of all the Anne of Green Gables stories so far.
I supposed all this sounds crazy — all these terrible emotions always do sound foolish when be put them into our inadequate words. They are not meant to be spoken — only felt and endured.
What I expected going into Anne’s House of Dreams was a greater focus on Anne and her new life with Gilbert, as well as some of the more familiar aspects of the first three books where each chapter was more like a stand-alone story. In these pages I found, but so, so, so much more. There is plenty of beauty, romance, and silliness. But in Anne’s House of Dreams, we also find tragedy, sadness, and deep abiding love.
It’s so dreadful to have nothing to love — life is so empty — and there is nothing worse than emptiness…
Anne Shirley is a fully-developed woman by the end of this novel. When it begins, we still have a bit of the young day-dreamer apparent in her. However, as the story progresses we find that Anne has completely grown up by the end of these pages. She is a wife, a mother, and a survivor of both grief and joy.
“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more… though I know that IS the noblest amotion… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me; to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
This is the book where we finally get to focus on the relationship between Anne and Gilbert. It’s heartwarming to watch The Blythes be young and in love together. There are moments where the couple still acts like school children, but they quickly turn into a loving and supportive couple. I think my favorite moments exploring their relationship include the first time Miss Cornelia comes over to socialize with Anne, so Gilbert hides in his study to eavesdrop, and when Anne and Gilbert have their first real argument. Montgomery has taken some fairly flat characters and given them incredible depth. Pitted against the background of friends the Blythe’s have developed, their love and relationship are even clearer. Plus, Montgomery’s implied moments where Anne and Gilbert head off for romantic trysts made me smile something fierce.
But [sorrows] won’t get the better of you if you face ’em together with love and trust. You can weather any storm with them two for a compass and pilot.
I adore the intimacy of Anne’s House of Dreams. Physically, the Blythe household is truly small and intimate. But unlike the previous books, Anne and Gilbert are not surrounded by a large community of friends and family. Instead, our story focuses on a small collection of characters. I found this change to be a breath of fresh air. When you move to a new community it can be a challenge to make friends. Not only that, but our smaller cast of characters also allows the reader to become better acquainted with them. Unlike previous books, I found myself much more connected to the emotional swings and nuances of our small cast. I laughed with Miss Cornelia and her catty ways, I dreamed with Captain Jim for both Lost Margaret and his Life-book, and I despaired with Leslie Moore.
But just think that a dull worked it would be if everyone was sensible.
Let’s take a moment to focus on Leslie Moore. There are so many wonderful characters in this novel (I think my favorite is Captain Jim!) but Leslie Moore is the most nuanced, well-developed characters I’ve read in the entire series. In a scant few hundred pages, we get to explore the entire tragic life of poor Leslie. And we are privileged to see almost every side of her as not only Leslie presents herself, but also how the other characters see her. Leslie’s character also drives a thread of plot consistently throughout the novel. The tragedy of her life and the cruelly tempting opportunities for happiness which enter fleetingly grips the reader and kept me turning pages in a way I never had for Anne on her own.
Ah, well, let’s not borrow trouble; the rate of interest is too high.
For a compact book coming in a little less than 250 pages, Anne’s House of Dreams packs quite the emotional wallop. The stories of this small cast of characters captured my heart. While Anne’s tale wasn’t always the center, her boundless love for her friends ties everything together in a wonderful way. It’s beautiful seeing the whimsical magic Anne casts over all these poor characters. In fact, this might now be my favorite book in the series! If you thought you were going to stop earlier, don’t. Please keep reading! Anne’s House of Dreams is waiting for you.
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Other Anne’s House of Dreams Reviews
What do you think?
- Have you read Anne’s House of Dreams? What do you think of this book?
- Do you still feel like this is an Anne story, despite the more prominent tragic events?
- Who is your favorite character from this new cast?
- What books under 250 pages pack an emotional wallop for you?