There must be a reason why LM Montgomery’s book Anne of Windy Willows is named that because the house in which she lives during the book is actually called Windy Poplars (and occasionally that is the title of the book) but if there is a reason I don’t know it. This is the fourth in the series which began with Anne of Green Gables and like the other sequels it isn’t as good as the original. Mostly this is because Anne has grown up so we can’t have her endless enthusiasm and misunderstandings at the centre of the story. To some extent this book only succeeds because of the affection which the reader holds in their mind for the original Anne.
In this instalment of the story Anne is engaged to Gilbert Blythe and headmistress of a rural school away from home while he studies to be a doctor. This is a society in which people are not rich enough not to work. The book doesn’t concentrate much on the children she teaches but centres on the house in which she lives and its two old lady inhabitants and their maid. The book is episodic in nature with a few stories developing across the whole book with most of it featuring Anne as a person who can make peace and get people to like her. The social history is particularly fascinating, particularly as there are a few instances of orphaned children and the author reminds us how unpleasant things can be for those who don’t have protection or a family who love them – remember the life that Anne lived before she originally came to Green Gables.
The stories within the book are about local people who have a problem which mostly Anne resolves or helps to resolve. The author creates a lot of interesting characters many of whom are grumpy and irritable. Anne herself tries to bring kindness and common sense into difficult situations with mixed success. The book, on the whole, is uplifting and where there is sadness the author’s Christian faith asks the reader to consider what happens to be part of a bigger plan – some modern readers may have problems with this.
I’m not sure how much I like the way that Anne has turned into a near-saint by this book in the series but the stories in this volume are amusing and touching by turn and the book is well put together. I have all the sequels purchased for my Kindle at a ridiculously low price and I intend to read my way through to the end of them – I remember trying to do so as a child but being obstructed by the fact that the local library didn’t have the full set.