Review of Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery:
Overview from www.bn.com: Anne’s children were almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one could resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can’t think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever.
Fifteen-year-old Rilla, the daughter of Anne Shirley Blythe, grows from a carefree, irresponsible girl into a strong and capable young woman during the war years, 1914-1918.
I have finally reached the end of one of my reading goals. Earlier last year I had vowed to finish reading the Anne of Green Gables series and with this book I have completed that goal. I finished Rilla of Ingleside last night which marks the end of the series.
This is a little bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I have achieved my goal and finished what I set out to do and that is satisfying. One the other hand, this also means that I have no more Anne books to read so unless I start all over again, I will have to live without dear Anne. Even if I don’t read it over again, it won’t be exactly the same because now I know what happens whereas before I had only known what had happened in the first two since they were the only ones I had already read before.
Now that I my little pout fest out-of-the-way, back to the book. Of course I liked it. How could I not when it is my last taste of Anne. I had earlier half-way contemplated skipping the one just before it, RainbowValley, since I had read reviews that said that Anne and her family didn’t feature much in that one which was true but I am still glad that I read it. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have known who the Meredith’s were and their relationship to the Blythes.
This book focuses mostly on Rill though. Rilla is Anne and Gilbert’s youngest daughter. She is young and carefree for the most part until World War I comes along and changes everything. Her brothers, her sort-of beau, and nearly every other young man in town have enlisted to fight. Living without these boys and the worry that something may happen to them have now replaced Rilla’s other more mundane concerns.
No more are her days filled with ordinary gossip, now everyone is talking about places with unpronounceable names where the Germans are doing their best to route the English forces that the Canadian soldiers fight with. Then her baby comes. That’s right, I said her baby.
Well, he isn’t really hers of course. She finds him in a house with an incompetent caretaker who was only there to take care of his mother who had recently died. Earlier in the novel we learn that Rilla actually hates babies so for her this is a big dilemma. In the end though her heart wins out and little “Jims” becomes an important part of her life.
I believe it was the taking care, feeding and raising of the little guy that gets her through all her dark times. And these are dark times. Even Anne admits that the only other experience she had that left her this sad was when her first-born died shortly after she was born. No one even thinks Rilla can pull this off, yet she does and in the process she grows to love the baby and secure a good future for him. This makes it all worthwhile.
Though I am sad to see the end to the series, I do believe the ending is satisfying. I recommend it highly.