Green Gables Readalong: Anne of Windy Poplars

 

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Lindsey at Reeder Reads is hosting a Green Gables Readalong, in which we are reading one Anne book a month between January and August. This month we are talking about Anne of Windy Poplars. You can read my thoughts on the first three books here and here and here.

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The first time I read this book, in my pre-teens, I was so impatient for Anne and Gilbert’s ‘House of Dreams’ that I don’t think I got as much out of this book as I should have. Anne of Windy Poplars is full of unique characters and stories that are wonderful to read and experience all on their own.

Anne is spending the next 3 years of her life in Summerside, PEI as the High School Principal, while Gilbert is at Redmond studying to become a doctor. The book is mostly made up of letters from Anne to Gilbert about the people and the goings on in Summerside. And, Anne writes the best letters…

Last night I had such a lovely walk with myself. I really had to go somewhere for it was just a trifle dismal at Windy Poplars. Aunt Chatty was crying in the sitting-room because her feelings had been hurt and Aunt Kate was crying in her bedroom because it was the anniversary of Captain Amasa’s death and Rebecca Dew was crying in the kitchen for no reason that I could discover. I’ve never seen Rebecca Dew cry before. But when I tried tactfully to find out what was wrong she pettishly wanted to know if a body couldn’t enjoy a cry when she felt like it. So I folded my tent and stole away, leaving her to her enjoyment.

Anne is staying at Windy Poplars with Aunt Chatty, Aunt Kate, their housekeeper, Rebecca Dew, and their cat Dusty Miller. The quote above gives you a taste of life at Windy Poplars. Rebecca Dew, especially, is a colourful character who adds her 2 cents worth whenever she can.

Rebecca Dew: I am not a B.A., and I do not deny your right to use words I cannot always understand. Neither do I deny that you can wind people around your little finger. Look how you managed the Pringles. But I do say I pity you if you take that iceberg and nutmeg grater combined home with you for Christmas. (referring to Katherine Brooke)

… may I express a fervent wish that your married life will be one of continued and uninterrupted Bliss? (Only do not expect too much of a man.)

When Anne first arrives, the Pringles do not approve of her, and try to make her life miserable. But, they underestimate our Anne, and soon she has them just as wrapped around her little finger as everyone else. In fact, she is in high demand as a dinner guest and a confidante, which works in our favour – we get to hear the gossip as she relays it to Gilbert in her letters.

Little Elizabeth next door longs for her father, prickly Katherine Brooke is finally pried out of her protective shell after a visit to Green Gables, Anne manages to save a family dinner from one of Cyrus Taylor’s famous sulks, poor Pauline finally gets a day off from her demanding mother, Aunt Mouser is always sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong, sweet little Teddy Armstrong shares the apple turnover that his father made him, Cousin Ernestine’s one consolation for dying young is “you’ll be spared an awful lot of trouble“, there is double trouble when Anne offers to babysit Gerald and Geraldine for the day, Anne learns about the ‘Old Curse’ of the Tomgallon family, and she helps to save several young romances (romance seems to be her specialty).

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

The Woman had told her that Tomorrow never comes, but Elizabeth knows better. It will come sometime. Some beautiful morning she will just wake up and find it is Tomorrow. Not Today but Tomorrow. And then things will happen…wonderful things.

But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.

Gilbert darling, don’t let’s ever be afraid of things. It’s such dreadful slavery. Let’s be daring and adventurous and expectant. Let’s dance to meet life and all it can bring to us, even if it brings scads of trouble and typhoid and twins!

Wouldn’t it be a rather drab world if everybody was wise and sensible . . . and good? What would we find to talk about?

Anne went to sleep for keeps thinking how lovely it was to wake up in the night and hear the first snowstorm of winter around your tower and then snuggle down in your blankets and drift into dreamland again.

… she always remembered her as a woman who had attained to the ultimate secret of life. You were never poor as long as you had something to love.

Because Anne of Windy Poplars is made up mostly of letters, it reminded me of the letters I used to write back and forth to my friend as we read the Anne books, when I was younger. So, I dug them out. (Of course, I only have the ones she wrote me.)

Look at the lovely box of stationery Diana sent me. Isn’t it fascinating to look at the blank pages and wonder what will be written on them?

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In this letter (from about 1986 – I can’t find the first page of it), my friend is telling me to read the next 10 chapters of Anne of Windy Poplars, and by then, it will be time for her to come to my house. “I liked the part in the third year when Anne was babysitting the twins. That was funny.” At the bottom is her Christmas wish list.

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This is the top of the same letter (I cut the middle of it out for a reason). “You know how many people I started reading Anne? A lot! I think ten. Everybody up here knows about her now. But I’m sure they don’t love her the way you and I do.”

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This one’s from 1986, right after my friend moved to Toronto for a year. (Yes, she’s calling me Cordelia.) “I’m going to read Anne of Green Gables again because it makes me think of you.”

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“It was a good movie but of course it doesn’t compare to Anne of Green Gables. Before I forget, read seven chapters into Anne of Ingleside. Oh! I’m glad and happy at the same time. I’m glad because I’m here into a brand new Anne book but I’m sad because the books won’t be as good the second time. But of course still wonderful.” Well, now we know that they are just as good the second time!

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In this letter, my friend is telling me how far she’s read in Anne’s House of Dreams, and she’s preparing me for how sad it is at the end. “I’m telling you, I cried the most in the last two chapters so be prepared. It’s the way Lucy Maud described it that makes it so ‘cryful’.”

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The quote from Captain Jim at the end of Anne’s House of Dreams. Coming up next! (Note the sign off at the end – “Yours til the ocean wears rubber pants to keep its bottom dry”. Letters were the best. No one would ever end their e-mails that way.)

Acceptable Covers:

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Unacceptable Covers:

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Undecided:

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Why do some of these books have the title Anne of Windy Willows?

 

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25 thoughts on “Green Gables Readalong: Anne of Windy Poplars

  1. JacquiWine says:

    What a lovely post! I read two or three of the Anne books in my childhood, but not this one (as far as I can recall). I guess you’re reading the books in order for this readalong? It must be interesting to follow Anne’s character to see how she changes as the series moves forward. She must be in her twenties here, would that be right?

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Jacqui! In this book, she is about 21-24. I think it’s great that Montgomery had Anne and Gilbert wait to get married, both of them continuing with their studying/careers in the meantime. When I was young, I’m not sure I noticed, but perhaps it registered subconsciously. 🙂

  2. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    You really make me want to reread the series now. When I first read the series, I didn’t like the grown-up Anne as much, probably because I couldn’t relate to her that much. But I think I would appreciate them more now. And how lovely that you and your friend wrote each other letters about reading the books. And even lovelier that you kept them!

    • Naomi says:

      When I went to dig up my letters, I really didn’t know if I would be able to find what I was looking for. But, almost all the letters from her over those 2 or 3 years of our lives had references to the Anne books, or the movie. It was fun reading them again after all these years.

      I really think you would love her grown-up self now, TJ!

    • Naomi says:

      I am so glad that I kept them. And, even happier that I decided to dig them out and have a look. It was a fun stroll down memory lane, and made me wish we were still writing letters. 🙂
      Now I’m wondering what I wrote in mine…

      • whatmeread says:

        I actually do write letters. In fact, I have a penpal, a young blogger who asked if someone would write her a letter. So, if you want to exchange letters, I think that would be fun. Of course, lots of people are too busy these days to do it, but there is something about a letter that is just different, and more permanent, than an email. I had been writing my older relatives until recently because most of them were not online. But my last uncle died last year, so I have no more older relatives to write to.

      • Naomi says:

        My kids get pretty excited when they get things in the mail, because it almost never happens. It really is more fun than e-mail.

      • whatmeread says:

        I have occasionally tried writing to my nieces, both email and regular mail. They don’t answer, so even though I think they enjoy getting the letters, it’s hard to tell. When I went to college I wrote my sister, who was six years younger than I was, just because I remembered how exciting it was to get mail as a kid. She wrote back these great letters, illustrated with pictures. I still have them.

  3. The Paperback Princess says:

    I’d say that blue one in “undecided” should definitely be tagged as unacceptable. Heinous. Why *are* some of them Windy Willows, I want to know!

    I love that you were able to dig out those letters – your penpal sounds positively Anne-like!

    I LOVED this book so much more than I remembered loving it the first time. I don’t think I appreciated it enough the first time. Little Teddy Armstrong! I still can’t believe that I forgot about him. And how about Rebecca Dew’s letter when Anne leaves? The sweetest. I can’t wait to read Anne’s House of Dreams!

    • Naomi says:

      Forgetting about little Teddy Armstrong is a good example of why these books should be read again as adults – I feel like everything in them means more or has more of an impact on me than they did when I was young.
      My friend and I did really sound Anne-like in our letters, I think, because we had fun imitating the way she talked and we tried to use words that she would use. It’s funny to read them all now.

      Ok, I googled it, and found this on Wikipedia: “Montgomery’s original title for the book was Anne of Windy Willows, but her US publisher requested that she change the title because of the title’s similarities to The Wind in the Willows. Additionally, her publisher requested some cuts to the book, mainly for perceived gory or terrifying content. Montgomery complied, and the edited novel was published in the United States and Canada as Anne of Windy Poplars. Her UK publisher, however, did not see the need for the edits and published the unabridged version under the original title, Anne of Windy Willows.[1][2]”.

      Very interesting. I wonder what was so gory and terrifying? Now, I want to know!

  4. Naomi Baltuck says:

    Dear Naomi,
    Those letters are a treasure! And such insight into your character. I can see that your love of literature goes back to the very beginning and it is the dearest thing that you found someone to share that passion with then, as you still do.

    • Naomi says:

      That was the first time in years that I went through my old ‘treasure’ box. It holds all my old letters, like the ones I put in my post, but it also holds my old diaries and notes from my friends at school (back in the days when kids passed notes instead of texts), and a bunch of other treasures. I am always so happy that I thought to keep it all!

      • Naomi Baltuck says:

        Those are the treasures that are irreplaceable, Naomi. So glad you hung onto them too. They give such insight to our older selves, and one day, to our children.

  5. Lynn at Smoke & Mirrors says:

    I can only imagine the difference reading this series as an adult versus a child/tween/teen! You noted many of the quotes that I felt were important, too. I like how you listed so many of the characters and events! This is my second favorite book so far, next to the first one. I love the letters! I had a couple of pen pals when young, but none now. And truly, writing letters is very time-consuming! Keyboarding is so much more time efficient. 🙂 But letters are special! Nice post and I love the covers, as always! Yes, now I’m very curious as to the gory stuff in the unedited version! Hmmmm…

    • Naomi says:

      When I was reading through some of the letters, I really was wondering how we had time to write such long ones – some were many pages long! And, I was thinking the same thing about Anne’s letters to Gilbert, but, of course, those are fictional. Also, there was no TV and no internet. 🙂

  6. The Cue Card says:

    I especially like the first cover you highlight — the special collector’s edition. I need to go back and read all of these. I read the first one but not all of them. If I’m to move & live here now — I need to get with the program!

    • Naomi says:

      I love the rest of the books just as much – it’s fun reading about her growing up. I hope you get a chance to read them some time!

  7. writereads says:

    I know I am only expressing what others have already expressed, but I LOVED those letters between you and your friend. I wish that I had done something like that with my friends who loved books and then would be able to look back at all our childish and not-so-childish thoughts about them. I just think that’s so incredible that you have those beautiful items in your possession and that they are about one of the best series’ ever! -Tania

    • Naomi says:

      I know. You’re right. I love that I have kept them (among many other things that the blogosphere will never know about). My husband thinks I’m crazy to keep so many things, but it’s totally worth it. Someday, I will tell my friend that her letters are now publicized. 🙂 (This also makes me wonder what I wrote in mine, and whether or not she has kept them. I am almost afraid to ask.)

  8. Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf says:

    Great review! I’m glad you enjoyed Windy Poplars more this time around. I think I’m pretty anxious for The House of Dreams so it was a tougher read for me. Great quotes you’ve pulled out too! I love that you always find the best and WORST covers for the books! Haha, sometimes I just don’t know what people were thinking! I’m adding your link to my monthly post for the #AnneReadAlong2017. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

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