Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

October 24, 2010

annes house of dreams Plot summary (with spoilers): This is the fifth novel in the beloved Anne of Green Gables series, and it continues the story of Anne Shirley’s charmed life. The book begins with Anne’s marriage to longtime sweetheart Gilbert Blythe, now a doctor. The wedding is held at Green Gables, and is the first one on the farm. Later, the Blythes move to their first home, a tiny place at Four Winds Point that Anne comes to view as her house of dreams.

The Blythes have some interesting neighbors at Four Winds Point, including Captain Jim, a grizzled old sea captain who has done and seen much in his lifetime, and Miss Cornelia Bryant, a middle-aged spinster whose favorite pastime is to put down all males with the withering comment, “Isn’t that just like a man?”. Also on the scene is the beautiful but aloof Leslie Moore, a young woman whose life has been full of tragedy.

Anne gets on with Captain Jim and Miss Cornelia right from the start, but it takes some time for Leslie to warm up to her. Indeed, Leslie at first envies Anne because Anne seems so happy and carefree. But gradually, after Anne hears about how Leslie lost her father and brother to early deaths and how her mother forced her to marry the brutish Dick Moore (now a helpless amnesiac), Anne grows more tolerant of Leslie’s quirks and the two become fast friends.

The rest of the novel then details various escapades that Anne and her new friends get into. For Anne and Gilbert, there’s the birth of their first child Joyce, who tragically does not live past her first day. For Leslie, there’s the life-changing discovery that the man she’s been caring for for the past 13 years isn’t actually Dick, but his cousin. This leaves Leslie free to court Owen Ford, a boarder whom she fell in love with over the summer. For Captain Jim, there’s the sheer joy of getting his life story published by Owen (a writer by trade), with the knowledge that his name will live on even after he’s gone. For Miss Cornelia, there’s the stunning revelation that she will marry the newly shorn Marshall Elliott.

At the end, Gilbert and Anne are blessed with a boy named James Matthew. This baby is healthy, and the little Blythe family decides to move to a bigger house to begin anew.

Liked:

  • Despite the fact that Anne Shirley is 25 years old when this novel begins, there are clear callbacks to the 11-year-old girl that first appeared in Anne of Green Gables. I think Montgomery did a wonderful job of developing this character. It’s easy to see how the adult Anne sprang forth from the young Anne.
  • Most of the storylines were interesting in this book. I thought Leslie Moore was an intriguing character, and I felt the same sympathy for her that Anne did. I was definitely rooting for her and Owen to get together — though I wish it had happened in a less soap opera-ish way!
  • Anne finally faced real tragedy in the death of her first child Joyce. I don’t wish tragedy on anyone, but Anne’s life had been rather too enchanted to be believable. Adding this incident made the character a bit more realistic and made me like her even more.

Disliked:

  • Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that I actively disliked anything about this book. But overall, I found it a bit “meh” in some places. It seems that perhaps the series is running out of steam… but I know there are a couple more entries yet.

Rating:

Anne’s House of Dreams is a decent novel. It is not the masterpiece that Anne of Green Gables was, but it would be difficult to duplicate that magical experience when the characters are in their mid-20s. Nevertheless, I think this book is worth reading, particularly if you’re a fan of the series. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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