#AnneReadAlong2017 : Rainbow Valley

December 26, 2017
Rainbow Valley Book Cover Rainbow Valley
Anne of Green Gables, #7
L. M. Montgomery
July 1st, 1985

Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert and now is the mother of six mischievous children.

These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream  of what will happen when the strangest family  moves into an old nearby mansion. The Meredith clan is  two boys and two girls, with minister father but  no mother -- and a runaway girl named Mary Vance. Soon the Meredith kids join Anne's children in their private hideout to carry out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There's always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley.

(via Goodreads)


As you might have noticed, I’m a bit behind on my #AnneReadAlong2017 reading! Life has a way of changing our free time and priorities sometimes, doesn’t it? In this particular case, while I found Rainbow Valley endearing and adorable, it was a really slow read for me. I found I didn’t become enraptured with the storytelling the same way I had with earlier books in the series. Over a month behind, it’s time to finally dig into how Rainbow Valley didn’t help my reading slump.

The 7th book in the Anne of Green Gables series, Rainbow Valley, is focused almost entirely on not just the Blythe children, but the newest family to join Four Winds: The Meredith’s. Reverend John Meredith is a brilliant preacher, but a bit distracted by his academic studies. When he becomes the new preacher for Four Winds the town is scandalized to learn he is a widower with four children– none of whom are well attended. These children are good-hearted but consistently get into some predicaments which are embarrassing to the town gossips.

What would women do if headaches had never been invented, St. George?

The four Meredith children quickly become friends with the Blythe children. They spend many hours in Rainbow Valley; the beautiful dip between their two homes. It’s a place filled with imagination and wonder. They are also joined by the street-smart runaway Mary Vance. These five new characters quickly outshine most of the Blythe children in my eyes. All but Walter, my personal favorite. In particular, Una and Faith Meredith are well-developed unique characters who make it clear to me how interchangeable Nan and Di Blythe have become.

All new characters in this book are wonderful. In addition to the children, we are also introduced to Reverend John Meredith, Rosemary and Ellen West, and Norman Douglas. All four are all unique adult characters to contrast the vivacious children. While Montgomery allows us a few interludes with Anne, Susan, and Miss Cornelia, these adults are more of the focus throughout the book as we go on adventures with the Meredith children. Their calm adult reflections act as a foil to the machinations of these children. In particular, I am fascinated by how John Meredith is portrayed.

People won’t be able to talk about us any more. Jem Blythe says it’s only old cats that talk, but their talk hurts just as much as anybody’s. 

In modern times, the Reverend John Meredith would be considered a terrible father. He loves his children but he is incredibly neglectful. His housekeeper, an aunt, is completely unfit to care for his children and he has no idea. He does not provide moral or educational support. He has no idea what his kids are doing at any moment. The members of the Four Winds community see this and instead of telling John Meredith to take control of his house they encourage him to marry. After all, he needs a woman in his life to care for these children. It’s certainly not *his* job. While I recognize the world was different in 1919, I wonder how much of John Meredith (and Gilbert Blythe’s!) lack of interaction with his children is a reflection of Montgomery’s interaction with father-figures. I look forward to eventually reading her Journals and learning if my hypothesis rings true.

Only I’d like to know what your father things about heaven — he CAN think — rarest thing in the world — a person who can think.

Reading Rainbow Valley reminded me a bit of reading the Oz books. Around this same point in the series, Dorothy and Toto were almost lost to obscurity. Books 8 and 9, Tik-Tok of Oz and The Scarecrow of Oz are both texts where Dorothy is a side character if that. In Anne of Ingleside, Anne Blythe herself was becoming a side character in her own story as her kids were growing into this space. This makes sense; there needs to be a passing of the torch as Anne grows older to keep the reading level the same. However, in Rainbow Valley, the story is focused almost entirely on the Meredith children. The Blythe children are a side note in their own series here! In fact, I think we see more of Anne Blythe than her kids throughout the novel.

It is never quite safe to think we have done with life.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a bad thing. I found myself consistently amused by the Meredith children. They have a very different set of life circumstances compared to the Blythes. This made for a refreshing and new set of mini adventures. I just found myself consistently waiting for the moment when Montgomery will tie the Blythe children closely back into the story. Well, it turns out I was waiting for something which never happened. This led me to be distracted and disengaged waiting for a moment which was never to arrive. This certainly disinterested me and put me in a bit of a reading slump.

“Well, anyway, Adam is dead and I am NEVER going to love anything again.”
“Don’t say that, dear. We miss so much out of life if we don’t love. The more we love the richer life is – even if it is only some little furry or feathery pet.”

My personal belief is that by this point in her writing, Montgomery was a bit tired of the Blythe family. While this is the 7th book chronologically, this is the 5th book out of 8 which are published in this series.  Rainbow Valley was published in 1919. Rilla of Ingleside, the 8th book in the series follows closely in 1921, but books 4 and 6 are published in 1936 and 1939 respectively. Reading Rainbow Valley feels a bit like reading an original novel set in the same universe the Blythe family exists in. This bait and switch left me wanting.

I will say, the book ends with some powerful foreshadowing of the impending Great War. While Rainbow Valley did put me in a bit of a reading slump, I am quite intrigued to start reading Rilla of Ingleside immediately!

“Let the Piper come and welcome,” he cried, waving his hand, “I’ll follow him gladly round and round the world.”

The stories of the Meredith children are certainly fun and refreshing. While my own personal reading was a bit distracted, I hope that if you pick up this book someday you’ll know what you’re getting into. Perhaps with the understanding that the Blythes take a backseat in this book, you’ll enjoy it more than I did! I am sure upon a re-read, now knowing what I am getting into, I’ll really enjoy Rainbow Valley.

What do you think?

  • Have you read Rainbow Valley? What do you think of this novel?
  • What books have you read which leave you wanting more? Why do they make you feel this way?
  • Have you ever read a book and felt baited and switched? What book made you feel this way? Why?


  • theorangutanlibrarian December 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Shame it was a little slower, but of course I still want to read it 😉 Great review!

    • Jackie B January 2, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that! I am really curious to hear your thoughts on this series as a whole… you’ve read Anne of Green Gables, yes? I can’t quite recall… If you’ve read any of Montgomery’s work, I’d love to know your thoughts on it, even at a high level!

      • theorangutanlibrarian January 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm

        Yes I’ve read the first three I think- it’s a while ago, so I’m not sure where I got upto- but I did have the complete works on my kindle, so I’ll have to finish it at some point (though I’ll probably do a reread first at this point 😉 ) Thank you!

        • Jackie B January 2, 2018 at 6:17 pm

          I would definitely recommend re-reading the first three if you’re going to start up again. There’s a lot of Anne’s character development in the first two books. Critical stuff!

          I wonder if you have the collection of 8 books or 6 books– the Kindle collection I have doesn’t include the books written in the 1930s. Super interesting, I think…

          • theorangutanlibrarian January 2, 2018 at 6:58 pm

            Yes absolutely- and also it’ll be a lot of fun 😉 Just like the first time 😉

            Hmm, I’ll check… Yeah it says it has 8.

  • Krysta December 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    I do find it odd that this book focuses more on the Merediths than on the Blythes. Still, I love their adventures and how the old ladies gossip about them!

    • Jackie B January 2, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Exactly! The old ladies gossiping just slays me. I think it’s even more brilliant because we are privy to Miss Cornelia and Susan Baker’s gossip. Hearing their words makes it much easier for me to imagine all the gossips. I mean, Mary Vance HAD to be adopted by Miss Cornelia if only so there is a way for all the gossip to land on the Meredith’s poor ears! XD

  • Sarah Emsley December 26, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Rainbow Valley isn’t one of my favourites, I guess because, like so many of LMM’s readers, I want to hear more about Anne. I don’t like the idea that her story is no longer interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention, and that other characters move to the centre. Even when the other characters are interesting, I still miss that lively voice we know so well from the first few novels in the series.

    • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      I’m glad there is someone else who agrees with me here! I feel like this is a really popular book in the series. Yes, I enjoyed the adventures of the Meredith children, but give me more of Anne Shirley Blythe herself. When she was presented in this text, it was almost exclusively as a distracted, uninterested housewife. I know there is more to Anne’s character than that; we’ve seen it many times.

      Relatedly, I also miss a lot of the characters from the beginning of the story. It makes me sad that Diana Barry has faded into obscurity. They are bosom friends! You’d think there might be some more visits to each other or something? If Gilbert and Anne can go to Europe without the children for a summer, then can at least visit Diana.

  • Birdie December 27, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Interesting, because I think the change of pace in Rainbow Valley, and returning to that sense of childlike adventures, is probably what made Rainbow Valley my second favorite in the series. (However, I was also only in middle school when I read this series, so it’s possible my adult perspective would change my mind.)

    • Jackie B January 2, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      No, I love this perspective! I never really thought of the Meredith’s as a change of pace. I imagine if you’re reading the series straight through, with no other books between them, that could certainly be the case. Particularly when I started to notice the Blythe children aren’t that unique from each other. But, I did notice that in Anne of Ingleside. Perhaps Montgomery thought she wrote herself into a bit of a corner with the Blythe children and used this as an escape?

      Either way, it always makes me happy when people have differing opinions than my own for books. Do you remember much of your reading of Rainbow Valley? Any specifics you recall loving?

      • Birdie January 2, 2018 at 6:33 pm

        I don’t remember a lot of specifics because it was so long ago. I just remember loving to read the children’s adventures. And I definitely liked the Meredith children more than the Blythe children. I think I just love the innocence of the kids.

  • Grab the Lapels December 27, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I can’t say if she planned it this way, but LM Montgomery will bring the Blythes and the Merediths together in the last book because everyone is grown up *bow chicka bow bow*

    Okay, not quite that, but it’s two lovely families whose kids grow up and grow together. Expect book 8 to actually focus on Rilla

    • Jackie B January 2, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      XD XD XD Melanie! I literally laughed aloud at this. Honestly, I sort of expect this if only because there are few other kids growing up along side the Blythes who are mentioned by name. This sort of thing happens in real life all the time!

      What did you think of Rainbow Valley when you read it?

      • Grab the Lapels January 2, 2018 at 9:44 pm

        I enjoyed Rainbow Valley. The kids had their own ways of thinking and problem filling and were full of superstition! Truly, I liked all the odd number books + Rilla. Here is my Rainbow Valley review if you want to compare: https://grabthelapels.com/2016/08/26/rainbow/

        • Jackie B January 5, 2018 at 9:31 am

          I’m with you about the unique ways of thinking about these problems– sometimes, I wonder how much of my interest in the Meredith children’s adventures has more to do with my lack fo a child-like mind or merely because these kids view the world with a 1900’s lens.

          I can’t wait to check out your review. Thanks for the link!

  • Laila@BigReadingLife December 27, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I rated this one three stars also, liking it more than Anne of Ingleside because, as you put it, the Meredith children are more interesting than the Blythe children! But I have to say that Rilla of Ingleside is AWESOME and I totally loved it, so hopefully it will help cure your reading slump!

    • Jackie B January 2, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      I’m so glad someone agrees with me! With parents like Gilbert and Anne, I don’t know how they could have been brought up so interachangably. It seems to strange.

      I hope so too! I haven’t picked it up yet because I’m hesitant after the last two books I read… Everyone has such great things to say about Rilla… but I will be breaking the spine tonight for sure. I’m so glad that you loved it! I am always super happy when series end well– as in on well-written novels. 😀

  • buriedinprint December 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I’m just echoing Laila’s encouragement for Rilla – hopefully the series will end on a high note for you. 🙂

    • Jackie B December 30, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      I’m so glad to hear you echoing this sentiment! I am hopeful. While it will be later than intended for the read along, I cannot wait to read Rilla. Particularly since you have already pointed out a few things I should be looking for! I’m very excited.

  • Lashaan (Bookidote) December 30, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I like how you contextualize this book in order to further appreciate its story. Its publication date is definitely an important factor to take into consideration with all the values and norms that comes with that time period. I absolutely loved your questioning regarding the relationship between father and children in the book and the one by the author with his father in real life. It would indeed be interesting to find out if the author based on that to create it. Great review as always though. Hopefully the next books won’t be as slow!

    • Jackie B January 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      Thank you so much, Lashaan! We had so much literature easily available to us during this day and age, people often overlook the historical context of when the book was published and the world around them. Some books, like Rainbow Valley are almost timeless. It can be easy to forget the historical context. I know I struggle with this at times. I let me own values reflect negatively on what is really a beautiful text. I need to get my own biases out of here!

      I am looking forward to reading L.M. Montgomery’s journals in the future. I’ve heard they are a fun read! And while they show the portion of like Montgomery wanted to show (knowing these were for herself), and not the whole picture, I feel like these will really help my contextualization of this whole series.

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