Friday, January 29, 2016

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery ~Review

So many people were talking about this book and how good it was, that I finally decided I'd better read it.  And then as a couple people inquired what I thought of it, I decided I'd better write up a review as well.  So here it is.
This is the eighth, and last, book in The Anne of Green Gables series, and is about Anne's youngest daughter Rilla.  When the story begins, Rilla is a lively young girl of nearly fifteen, who is anxious to leave behind her childhood and experience the joys of being a young--and not unattractive--young woman.  She has dreams of love and romance (particularly in regards to a certain young man named Kenneth) and is looking forward to the forthcoming years with the optimism of youth. 
     But then comes a war.  And with it Rilla's childish dreams of a happy and carefree existence shatter in an instant.  She watches as her brothers and friends leave to perform their duty overseas--watches and waits and hopes.  The war will bring much sorrow, but it will also shape young Rilla into a strong, mature young woman; and as she learns to rise above misfortune--to "keep faith"--she will find that there is still happiness to be found in this world.  And perhaps, in the end, it will prove to be an even greater happiness because of all that was sacrificed to gain it.
(Okay.  That was my first attempt at writing a summary for a book review.  I'm afraid it's pretty awful, but I'm going to have to leave it as it is, because I really haven't the time to be overly perfectionistic today.)
My Thoughts:
Rilla of Ingleside is definitely a war story.  It begins with the start of the war and ends with it's completion.  I confess, it was not my favorite book.  Sometimes war stories can be a bit depressing to me, and at one point I was ready to conclude that yes! this was another sad, depressing war story.  But actually, now that I've reached the end, my feelings are quite different.  The conclusion was so hopeful and happy that it helped a good deal in making up for all the preceding sadness; and it really was a beautifully written story.  So...yeah.  Overall, it was a good book. 
Things I didn't like so very much:
~There wasn't enough dialogue to suit me (by which I mean, real in-depth conversations).  A lot of the talking was done by Susan the maid, and while she is a good enough character in herself, still I really did want to hear more from some of the other characters.  (For example.  It annoyed me excessively the one time when it seemed that Anne and Gilbert were just about ready to have a nice confidential chat, and then Susan came out and started talking.  The moment with Anne and Gilbert was gone, and I must admit, I was quite put out with Susan.)
~I didn't feel like I got to know Rilla's family very well.   Gilbert and Anne were in it, but not satisfactorily, if you know what I mean.  And as for her siblings, Walter was the only one who I came close to getting to know, and even that was not quite enough.  (Maybe the book was just too short, I don't know.)
~I would have been okay with a little more detail about Kenneth and Rilla's romance.  It struck me that Kenneth was hardly even in the book, and in order to really like a character I feel like I need to see a little more of them.  ;)
Things I liked very much:
~THE ENDING!  (And no, it was not because I was anxious to get the book over with.  Seriously.  I liked the ending because it was genuinely one of the best parts in the book.)  It was soaringly beautiful.  The words, the descriptions...the joyfulness of the war finally being over and everyone coming home again, and the fact that life really does go on.  Despite the pain and the sorrow, life truly can be happy again.  And that made me SO happy!!
~Susan's talk to Rilla about why she believed that Jem was still living.   Talk about emotional!   (Oh!  And I did come close to tears on more than one occasion.  Just sayin'.)
~Walter's letter to Rilla.  (Actually, that may have been about the time that I decided this book was too sad, but anyway, the letter itself was really good.)
~When Rilla finally learns to love baby Jims.  Up until that point, I was quite put out with her for being so hard-hearted.  (After all, who can't love a baby?)  But it was good to see, in the end, that she really did have some sense.  Haha!
~Kenneth's words to Rilla at the end.  "'Is it Rilla-my-Rilla?' he asked meaningly."  Aw.  *contented sigh of happiness*
...I feel like there was something more I was going to say, but now I can't remember it.  (My goodness.  This feels like a very jumbled sort of review, indeed.)   Ah, well...
I need to wrap this up somehow, so I suppose I'll simply conclude with a quote from the book that really stood out to me.
"Let us drink," he said, "to the silent army--to the boys who followed when the Piper summoned.  'For our tomorrow they gave their today'--theirs is the victory!"

The End.


  1. That quote at the end!! Way to make me emotional..

    I love this book! True it is quite depressing at times (especially compared to the other books in the series) but then again, it was war.
    If you want to get to know Rilla's siblings a bit more I would recommend Rainbow Valley. I guess the reason we don't hear so much about them is because the author thinks you've read all the other books.

    The ending!! There are so many emotional scenes in that ending. I hardly ever cry over books, but that scene where Jem is welcomed home by his dog has me in tears every time!
    And Ken's words to Rilla *sigh* it just makes me finish the book with a big giddy smile:)

    1. Heehee. Sorry about that. ;) But it was such a good quote, I just had to use it...

      Very good point. It probably would have helped to have read Rainbow Valley. I think that's the one I started, but never finished. Maybe someday I'll go back and read the whole thing.

      Totally. The emotion really goes into high gear at the end. And yes, that scene with Jem and his dog!! And Rilla and Ken! So. Good.

  2. AH. I'm so glad you liked this and reviewed it!!! You obviously didn't love it as much as I... but STILL.

    Yeah, it does feel like you don't know the family too well. But that's probably because you have read the books 'Anne of Ingleside' and 'Rainbow Valley'- which tells stories of the children when they were young.

    I agree. I wanted more Kenneth + Rilla.


    ~ Naomi

    1. Yeah, sorry. I can't say I like it as much as you do, but thank you just the same for recommending it. It really was a very good book.

      True. I hadn't really thought about that, but it probably would have helped to have read the preceding books. I was reading through the Anne books several years ago, but never made it to end of the series. I think it was Rainbow Valley that lost my interest. Can't remember why.

  3. Ahhhhhhhhh . . . this book . . .

    I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH.

    I'm so glad to be able to read your review of it! I do agree with you on several of the points you didn't like so well (like, I also wish there'd been more dialogue) but, overall, I just LOVE it. I can't exactly explain why, but . . . there it is. For me, it's one of the most powerful novels I've ever read.

    That last scene with Rilla and Ken--YESSSSSSSSSSSS. Feel all da feels.

    I do agree with you that more romantic scenes between them would've been nice, but . . . I think L.M.M. was trying to give us the "brief wartime romance" flavor, you know what I mean? Like, during the two World Wars, a lot of couples DID commit to marriage after very brief courtships, just like Rilla and Ken did. They simply didn't have very much time together because that was the way it WAS. But yeah . . . a little more of their "adorableness" would've been most welcome ;-)


    (Seriously. I wuvs him.)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this, Jessica. It was my first book review, so I must admit I was a little nervous about it. :) Your comment was very encouraging, though, and made me very happy. Thank you. :)

      I like what you said about L.M.M. trying to give us the "brief wartime romance" flavor. That makes a lot of sense. There are definitely different ways of coming at a story, and while normally I would prefer more details, still I can see how leaving out those details could be a very advantageous choice depending on what sort of feel the author is trying create. Oh, I'd say the dialogue thing fits right into that, too. Have you ever read A Lantern in Her Hand? That's another book that didn't have enough dialogue for me, but it's a book that has a very nostalgic, thoughtful sort of feel to it, and I can see how adding more dialogue could easily have changed the entire feel of the novel. Sometimes it's the things left unsaid, that are the most powerful.

      Oh! Dog Monday. Yes. That is a really cool part of the story. The fact that he never gave up, but waited and waited--for years--until his master finally returned. It's just amazing. And a very moving part of the story. When Jem finally returns home...ahhhhh!! :)

    2. Oh, I'm so glad it was encouraging! You really did write a great review--you should do more! :-)

      Yes! I have read "A Lantern In Her Hand," and I think that's a very valuable comparison--it was less dialogue than you might expect from a conventional novel, but I think, like you said, the author was trying to make it a very introspective/retrospective story--almost as though we were reading Abby's memories as she herself looked back on her life.

      Yessssssssssss. I love that part SO. MUCH. It's one of the most emotional moments in the whole story.

    3. Aww. Thanks, Jessica.

      Yes, that's a perfect way of describing "A Lantern in Her Hand." It is a very "introspective/retrospective" kind of story. I really liked hearing about life from Abby's perspective when she was old, as it was wonderful to see the world through the eyes of a grandma and realize that inside she truly is the same person she was when she was young...with the same hopes, dreams, and joys. It really makes you respect and appreciate the older generation.

  4. Oh, you did a review! AND ON A BOOK I LOVE :)

    I also wish there was more of Rilla+Ken together. I'm one of those people that can't get enough of romantic development, so's a lot of the time I'm not satisfied :P

    Walter is my absolute baby :)

    DOG MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! ('Nuff said ;))

    1. Another Rilla of Ingleside fan! Wow! I've really been out of the loop. So many people love this book, and I've only just read it. :) Haha!

      Yes, exactly! I LOVE a good romance. And I like to see it FULLY developed. :) Ah well. I suppose in the case of Rilla and Ken we're just going to have to use our imaginations a little bit more. :)

      Oh, yes. Walter. I confess, I didn't love him as much as others seem to, but that may have been because, for me, there just wasn't enough time to get to know him. If I ever read the book again, I might feel differently. (One thing that was really cool about Walter was how afraid he was to go to war and yet when he actually did it he proved himself to be one of the bravest men out there. It just goes to show you that none of us knows our own strength until we've been tried. I like that.)

      Thank you so much for your comment, Rosie! I always enjoy hearing from you. :D

    2. You're not TOTALLY alone - I only read it the summer before last. About three years ago, I'd never even HEARD of LMM, let alone read any of her books. :P Late literature bloomer I guess . . .

      Very true, sir :)

      I think he's the sort of character that you love more and more with each reading of the book :D YES! It's so inspiring how he is so afraid, but faces his fears squarely and ends up the bravest of them all. And then he dies *sobs* But he was ready. :)

      Aw, thanks!!

    3. Oh, good. That's a relief. Then I don't have to feel bad about being so behind. (Haha! Not that I was really feeling bad, but you know...) I grew up on the Anne of Green Gables movies, so while I didn't read the books until I was older, still I can't remember a time when I didn't know about LMM. There are a lot of her books which I haven't read, though. How many LMM books have you read?

    4. Mmmm - I've read most of the Anne books, the Emily books, and lots of the 'random' ones, like Jane of Lantern Hill, the Story Girl, Rainbow Valley, and so on :)

    5. Cool. I've never read the Emily books or The Story Girl, but I have read Jane of Lantern Hill and I think it's probably my favorite LMM book. It's such a sweet story! :D

    6. I really like Jane :) I didn't really enjoy the Emily books, but I know other people really like them, so it's probably just a matter of personal taste. I did rather enjoy the Story Girl. She was FASCINATING.

  5. Yes, Rilla of Ingleside is one of my favorites. (As you can probably tell by my "name" :) I love it how much character development Rilla has, and even when she's immature she's darling. Only thing is that for a big part of the book I feel like she and Ken just have these crushes on each other, and not really true, selfless love. But I still love them;)

    And WALTER. He is the BEST and SWEETEST EVER.

    I love your blog, BTW!

    ~Rilla Blythe

    1. Hi, Rilla! Why am I not surprised that this is one of your favorite books? (Haha!)

      I see what you mean about Rilla and Ken having crushes on each other. It does kind of come across that way sometimes. Like their love is based more on attraction than on a real heart connection. Ah, well. I guess that's where we read between the lines and assume that it's deeper than it looks. :)

      Yes. Walter is an excellent character. I didn't expect him to die so soon, though. :( I wish he and Una could have gotten together. That would have been so sweet.

      Aww. Thank you! :)

      And thank you for your comment. It made me very happy! :)

  6. Miss March,
    Are you kidding me?? That is a beautiful summary!!!! You don't really think it's awful, do you? :)

    I can understand why it wasn't your favorite. But I'm so glad you at least liked it!!
    And oh! I'm not sure if I remember that, but it sounds familiar and just like something Susan would do! (interrupting Anne and Gil) I like Susan, but I do agree she got more of a spotlight than she sometimes deserved. ;)

    1. Well, I confess if I thought it was TRULY awful, I wouldn't have published it. But still, I had the feeling as I finished it that it was going to be one of those things which sounds perfectly awful in a year or two. :/ Haha. Thank you so much, though. I'm glad you thought it was good. :)

      Yes, I did like it. Thanks so much for recommending it. It was fun to read something new. (I sort of tend to read my tried and true books over and over, so it's always nice when I hit upon something that's totally different.)

      Yeah, sometimes I wasn't sure whether I was reading a story about Rilla or about Susan! Haha! ;) (Just kidding) But she really did get a lot of the spotlight, like you said.

    2. Aw, well I hope you still like it in a year or two. I liked it a lot! :)

      Really? I have the opposite problem-I'm always reading new books and don't give myself any time to re-read favorites! haha I'm trying to work on that problem. :/

      Hahaha, I know, right? ;)

    3. Aww. Thanks, Natalie. You're so sweet. :)

      Well! It sounds like you need a little of my problem and I need a little of your problem, and then we'd be a nice balance. Haha! :D

    4. Yes!! That would be so helpful! :D haha