Anne of Windy Willows Unknown Binding – 1949
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Anne of Windy Willows (or Windy Poplars, as it was originally published) is the fourth book in the series, the sequel to Anne of the Island, but it was actually written long after book three (1915) in 1936. By this point Lucy Maud had already written Anne's House of Dreams (1917), Rainbow Valley (1919), and Rilla of Ingleside(1921) - books 5, 7 & 8 - and she went back and slotted in this one, and later Anne of Ingleside, to fill in a couple of gaps.
The book does fill a useful gap in Anne's story, but lacks just a little bit of the flow and dreaminess of the other novels, possibly because much of the novel is written in the form of letters to Gilbert. That said, it's lovely to see romance blossoming with Anne & Gilbert. She was never supposed to fall in love with that dapper Roy Gardner, and was engaged to Gilbert at the very end of the previous book. However, Gilbert must be away for his doctor's training for the next three years... so the couple are in for a long engagement...
Anne secures the position of principal at Summerside High School, and in true Anne-style this is not without its difficulties. She finds a lovely place to board and we meet the charismatic "Aunts Kate & Chatty", and hilarious Rebecca Dew. And then there is Anne's relationship with the forlorn little girl, Little Elizabeth, living next door... not to mention Anne's mission to reform and befriend the miserable school teacher Katherine!
It's still a lovely book to read, but as I re-read the Anne series this is the one I'm always least eager to pick up. The Anne books are wonderful stories for all ages from 8+. If you haven't read any before, start with number 1 which is Anne of Green Gables. I can't recommend them enough.
Together with her, we discover wonderful new people who quickly make a place for themselves in our hearts. There is the amazing 'hired help', Rebecca Dew and the magical little girl next door, Elizabeth who longs to enter the land of Tomorrow.
Though the community is hostile to an outsider initially, specially the Pringle clan, who is almost royalty, Anne's warm heart and beautiful spirit win them all over in the end.
When she finally leaves for Green Gables to get married, though we are overjoyed that she and Gilbert are to be together at last, we cannot help but feel a pang of nostalgia for the people and places she leaves behind. Places on which she has left her mark .... places which will be always to her, and to us, home.
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