Green Gables Readalong: Rainbow Valley

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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 Rainbow Valley. If you want to catch up, here are my reviews for the first 6 books: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars,  Anne’s House of Dreamsand Anne of Ingleside.

Rainbow Valley is where the children of Ingleside love to play. In Rainbow Valley, the Blythe children are joined by the Merediths, the four children belonging to the new minister for the Glen. They are motherless, and their father is absent-minded to the extreme, so the Meredith children are free to wander where they will at all hours of the day. Despite this, they are very sweet, caring children who are often seen as wild and troublesome by many in the village. Much of the book is about their escapades and the unfortunate consequences of them.

The other main storyline is of their father, the new minister, John Meredith. He is a single father of four children, and according to popular opinion around town, should be finding himself a new wife to bring up his children properly. As much as I love the stories in this book – they are as charming and delightful as usual – I couldn’t help but notice that it portrays men as incapable of looking after their children; they need a wife to do it for them. Not really a message we want our own children to learn.

Another thing that gave me a bit of a jolt was the use of the n-word, and there were also a few mentions of the black heathens in Africa. My edition of the book is old – I’m wondering if anyone can tell me if these things are still included in the newer editions of the book?

Church plays a huge part in Montgomery’s stories. Maybe more so in this book, because one of the central stories revolves around the new minister and his family. Going to church was a major event, and the perfect opportunity to spread gossip. In this case, it was mostly about the ‘bad’ behaviour of the minister’s children. It also played up the rivalry between the Presbyterians and the Methodists; the Presbyterians were mortified that the Methodists would find out about the scandalous behaviour of the children. They were often seen playing in the Methodist graveyard, and once put on a concert in it while the Methodists were having their prayer meeting. There was always something new and juicy for Miss Cornelia and Susan to talk over at Ingleside. I love the way Lucy Maud pokes fun at it all.

As with the Blythe children, we get to know each of the Meredith children well. They are all endearing in their own ways, and all very protective of their beloved father. They meet and take care of the poor runaway orphan they find in a barn. They take it into their own hands at times (and in amusing ways) to make sure their father gets to stay on as minister in the Glen. And, they form the Good-Conduct Club to help ‘bring themselves up’ so that Father won’t be accused so often of neglecting his children. They punish themselves when they think they have done something wrong, because there is no one else to do it.

The highlight of the book for me was the letter Faith Meredith published on the front page of the Journal, explaining why she ended up going to church without any stockings.

I want to explain to everybody how it was I came to go to church without stockings on, so that everyone will know that father was not to blame one bit for it, and the old gossips need not say he is, because it is not true…

She goes on to explain why she didn’t want to wear the “horrid red and blue things Aunt Martha Knit” made out of yarn sent by Mrs. Burr who is said to send things she can’t use or eat to the minister. At the end of the letter, Faith feels it’s a good time to confess to being the ones to take potatoes out of Mr. Boyd’s garden, so that he will stop blaming the Lew Baxters for it. She also mentions how small they were, and that Mr. Boyd might want to use more fertilizer.

Rainbow Valley is full of the innocence of childhood and the troubles and insecurities of the young. To them their fears and sorrows are huge, but we are reminded at the end of the book that they are nothing compared to what is yet to come.

The shadow of the Great Conflict had not yet made felt any forerunner of its chill. The lads who were to fight, and perhaps fall, on the fields of France and Flanders, Gallipoli and Palestine, were still roguish schoolboys with a fair life in prospect before them: the girls whose hearts were to be wrung were yet fair little maidens a-star with hopes and dreams.

Next (and last): Rilla of Ingleside. I’m excited to see if it is as good as I remember it.

Acceptable Covers:

7739561453122031287717558062767655

Unacceptable Covers:

99755589957686859932436293622311530521541373

Undecided:

62772501643488

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27 thoughts on “Green Gables Readalong: Rainbow Valley

  1. Sarah Emsley says:

    I haven’t read Rainbow Valley since I was about eleven and I haven’t got to it yet for the Readalong, so I was fascinated to discover from reading your post that I remember nothing at all about the story or the new characters. With some of the earlier books in the series, I had at least some vague memories of names and specific scenes. In this case I don’t even recognize the name Meredith. Like you, I’d be curious to know whether newer editions make any changes to the text. For covers, I like the new one by Elly MacKay best. My edition is McClelland and Stewart, from the 70s, and features a young girl in front of a window. There’s a rainbow outside, but, oddly, while she seems to be waving to the rainbow, she’s looking down at her hand instead of outside at the view.

    • Naomi says:

      That’s funny – I don’t remember seeing that cover when I was going through them all. Now, I want to go back to see if I can find it.
      Also funny that none of what I wrote rings a bell. Maybe when you read it yourself, you’ll remember something. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on it (especially if it’s all new to you)!

      • Sarah Emsley says:

        I’m falling behind — I haven’t read Anne of Ingleside yet. But now I’m curious to see if I do remember some of Rainbow Valley. I certainly remember the old amusement park in PEI that was named after the book.

      • Naomi says:

        Maybe you should just go ahead and read Rainbow Valley first. There aren’t really any plot points you need to pick up from Anne of Ingleside, besides the birth of her last child.
        The funny thing about that amusement park is that I used to think (when I was little) that it was such a coincidence that it had the same name as one of the Anne books. 🙂

      • Buried In Print says:

        What you’ve described, Sarah, is the cover that I have too, although it doesn’t “fit” with my set, which are like the other editions that you have, Naomi, those worn Bantam paperbacks. I couldn’t fit a picture of the M&S edition online, so maybe I will have to scan it in. I’m about halfway through rereading RV (I forgot about the Meredith family too), and I’m sure I will finish by the end of this month, but not in time to post about it for the read-a-long.

  2. Sarah Emsley says:

    P.S. My book club is meeting on Wednesday to talk about Just Beneath My Skin — and, I expect, to compare it with Sweetland, as you did a few weeks ago. Thanks again for writing about the two of them. I’m looking forward to the discussion.

  3. whatmeread says:

    This is one I hadn’t heard of before, but it doesn’t sound like one I would try. If I try any more, I’ll probably go in order and I doubt if I’d make it to book 7!

  4. The Paperback Princess says:

    I haven’t read this yet for the readalong! And reading this post I realize that I remember absolutely nothing about this book. It will be like reading a brand new book! It sounds kind of like The Blythes Are Quoted – the Blythes exist but it’s more a collection of stories about the community. I always assumed that LM Montgomery must have been a bit like Anne herself – she writes about the lives of children so well it’s like she really understands them. But in reading about her, I realized that this wasn’t the case at all.
    As always I love these covers. I’m collecting those beautiful new Tundra books this time but before that I had the entire set of the Special Collector’s editions and I still think that those will always be my favourites. But that one with just red straw?? What is THAT?

    • Naomi says:

      I was thinking it’s maybe supposed to be red hair – but, why? I don’t know! 🙂
      You’re the second one to say they don’t remember the book. Maybe, reading it as a child, it’s not very memorable. Also, you’re right, it’s not about the Blythes as much as it is about the Merediths. The Blythes are just sort of in the background. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s not as memorable?
      If you have a new-ish edition, let me know if there have been any changes in some of the text!

      • The Paperback Princess says:

        I will. I’m kind of horrified at what you said about the text. Even though, obviously it was written years ago, it’s always so uncomfortable to read those words tossed out casually.
        It probably is supposed to be red hair but it looks like straw and either way, what is that?

      • Naomi says:

        I remember coming across some racism in a couple of her other books, as well. Even against the French community of the island. They are always maids and hired hands, and not thought too highly of. It’s hard to remember that it was just the way it was…

  5. Karen @ One More Page... says:

    You’ve done so well with keeping up! I have completely fallen off of this readalong train. I adore the Tundra Books paperback cover for this. And seriously, what is with the first cover under “unacceptable”???

    • Naomi says:

      I can tell you right now that there is not a single person eating a pear in this book. Sometimes, though, there were people reading books. 🙂

  6. JacquiWine says:

    Just dropping by to say I’m glad you’re writing about each book in this series. A read a few of them as a young girl, but my memories are pretty fuzzy now! I do some volunteering with the local library here, so it’s useful to have your posts for reference. 🙂

  7. Lynn @ Smoke & MirrorsP says:

    Hah! What is with the pear and books on the one cover! Definitely unacceptable–no tie-in!! 🙂 Oh, my, I had forgotten about the stockings!! That was a wonderful bit! You’ve reminded me about writing reflecting the times. I met a literary researcher who happened to be of African-Mediterranean descent was very upset because when he went to his University’s library to review copies of older books demonstrating overt racism, he discovered that they were deemed “unacceptable” and destroyed! I had to agree with him. How can we “track” social evolution if we destroy materials from the past that are now “unacceptable”? We’ll never have a chance to compare and contrast! And while these “fathers” might not be the prime examples we would like our children to know, they can serve as a reminder that we have evolved from that overarching standard. All in all, I agree these books are wonderful! So glad I made time to read them! (I finally got my review of this one posted. Been way too busy to get blog posts up!)

    • Naomi says:

      For the most part I agree with you, Lynn. I was curious about this one, though because of it being marketed for kids. Most of the kids reading it, though, are probably old enough to know times have changed. It is so interesting to come across it (and other things) that show the ‘signs of the times’.

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