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’s House of Dreams. You can read my thoughts on the first four books here and here and here and here.
I want to live inside this book. If I ever have to choose which book to live inside of for the rest of my days, this would be it. Who wouldn’t? It has the sweet ‘house of dreams’, the friendly neighbours, the happy adventures, the hopeful future, and of course, Gilbert. There is a reason why the cover of this book is more worn than the others (with the exception of the first). I have shed many a happy tear over this book (and, a few sad ones).
Nothing in her life had ever given Marilla so much happiness as the knowledge that Anne was going to marry Gilbert Blythe; but every joy must bring with it its little shadow of sorrow.
As for Anne herself, she was so happy that she almost felt frightened.
Anne and Gilbert are finally married, and have moved into their house of dreams. They have new neighbours, as wonderful and as colourful as all of Montgomery’s very best characters; Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia and Leslie Moore.
“If life were to stop short just now it would still have been richly worth while, just for the sake of these past four weeks, wouldn’t it?”
Captain Jim comes and goes telling tales of the sea and of the history of the place they now live in. Even his own sad tale doesn’t take away from his enjoyment of life.
“Some say I’m good… but I sometimes wish the Lord had made me only half as good and put the rest of it into looks. But there, I reckon He knew what He was about, as a good Captain should. Some of us have to be homely, or the purty ones – like Mistress Blythe here – wouldn’t show up so well.”
Miss Cornelia disapproves of men in general, but is willing to make an exception for a very few. She has many stories to tell of the other people in the village; the women who are almost dead from work and exhaustion, and their husbands who are good for nothing. In the end, though, she has a surprise of her own.
“That woman is a martyr, Mrs. Blythe, believe me. When she married Fred Proctor, I knew how it would turn out. He was one of your wicked, fascinating men, After he got married he left off being fascinating and just kept on being wicked.”
“I’m not hankering after the vote, believe me… I know what it is to clean up after men. But some of these days, when the men realize they’ve got the world into a mess they can’t get it out of, they’ll be glad to give us the vote, and shoulder their troubles over on us. That’s their scheme.”
“Job! It was such a rare thing to find a patient man that when one was really discovered, they were determined he shouldn’t be forgotten.”
The main romance of the story (you know there has to be one) revolves around Leslie Moore. She is married to a man who is suffering from brain damage and needs to be taken care of like a child. Leslie’s life story, so far, has been tragic, and it takes some work for Anne to weasel her way into Leslie’s affections. Everyone feels sorry for Leslie, but are powerless to do anything, until Gilbert examines her husband and decides that it might be possible to undo the damage that has been done. The only problem is, no one is happy about this, least of all Leslie. And, Gilbert is no longer in Cornelia’s good books for suggesting such a thing.
She knew that Leslie was in the grip of a hideous dread – a dread that wrapped her away from all little glimpses of happiness and hours of pleasure. When one great passion seizes possession of the soul all other feelings are crowded aside. Never in all her life had Leslie Moore shuddered away from the future with more intolerable terror. But she went forward as unswervingly in the path she had elected as the martyrs of old walked their chosen way, knowing the end of it to be the fiery agony of the stake.
And, what about Anne and Gilbert? They are as happy as can be in their little house of dreams. Even after tragedy strikes on a sad spring day, happiness manages to find its way back to Anne. Anne can never stray too far from it. That’s one of the reasons her books are so cherished around the world. Whenever you read one, you come away feeling that the world, despite all it sorrows, is a beautiful place to be.
“It’s so beautiful that it hurts me.”
There is much progress being made in PEI these days; there are now party phone lines and Eaton’s catalogues (to amuse the children). And Marilla has never before been so far away from Green Gables when she travels to visit Anne at her House of Dreams. Life does not stand still. Neighbours marry, friends ‘cross the bar’, babies are born, and houses get too small for growing families.
Then, there are some things that will never change (just insert ‘ipad’ instead of ‘Eaton’s catalogue’).
“Well they’re splendid to amuse children with,” said Diana. “Fred and small Anne look at the pictures by the hour.”
“I amused small children without the aid of Eaton’s catalogue,” said Mrs. Rachel severely.
I love this paragraph on the difference between the sea and the woods:
There is a great solitude about such a shore. The woods are never solitary – they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity. We can never pierce its infinite mystery – we may only wander, awed and spell-bound, on the outer fringe of it. The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has only one – a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels.
I think I might have been harder on these covers than previous ones, because of my love for the book. What do you think?