5 Jan 2015

Reread 2015: Anne of Windy Willows

First published: 1936
Country of Origin: Canada
Pages: 368

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

I was quite young... six or seven, I think. My parents used to have this red and yellow hardcover edition of Anne of Windy Willows in our living room bookcase. The spine was falling off and the pages were spotted and yellowed and there was this lovely old book smell coming off its pages. As a child I'd always read Anne of Green Gables and then read Anne of Windy Willows, which meant I missed a lot of Anne's story. Weirdly enough, my parents didn't have any other of the Anne books on their shelves.

All of the letters. When I was younger I wasn't a huge fan of the epistolary format, and was kind of relieved when the third person narrative kicked in. Now I'm older, I can appreciate the letters Anne sends Gilbert. I also remembered the Pringles, because the complete 180 in their attitude towards Anne both frustrates and amuses me (rumours of cannibalism, oh my).

Anne Shirley is a delight. Of course, sometimes she feels a little too perfect - I've found that as the books progress, she seemingly becomes more and more perfect, and the books become less about the scrapes that she gets herself into, and more about the people she has an impact on. 

 Be still, my shipper heart. There's just enough of those [several pages omitted] to make me smile with second hand giddiness. Little phrases like, "Gilbert, I'm afraid I'm scandalously in love with you" and asking him if he thinks him kissing her neck would be inappropriate.  I do wish we could've seen more of Gilbert - aside from Anne's letters, we only see a mustachioed Gilbert when Anne returns to Avonlea with Katherine Brooke one Christmas. I would've also liked to see some letters from Gilbert to Anne - I would've liked to hear about Gilbert's experiences of medical school, and also how his relationship with Anne has developed since they became engaged. Despite all of Anne's letters to Gilbert, there's very little about their relationship.

I think Anne of the Island is my favourite of the series after AoGG, so in all honesty the book fell a little flat, and I don't think it wouldn't have felt that way had I not read AoWW immediately after finishing AotI. I think what's missing from AoWW is what made Anne of Green Gables win my heart - Anne's relationships with her loved ones. There's only a cameo from Gilbert, Marilla and Rachel Lynde, and Anne's bosom friend Diana Barry Wright is only mentioned in passing. I was thankful that Davy and Dora weren't a big feature, although I feel like I should point out that one of my status updates on GoodReads is:
"She told Anne candidly that she had no use for the impeccable Dora but that Davy was somehow tarred with her own brush." (page 196) You know, it's kind of irritating that all of these characters who had unhappy, love-starved childhoods are so quick to say that they find Dora unlovable and uninteresting simply because she is good.
I find it incredibly frustrating that so many characters (who admit that they were love-starved as children) are willing to overlook Dora simply because she is well-behaved and instead openly favour a child who is not mischievous but a bully and antagonistic.

I think I would reread Anne of Windy Willows again if I was doing another whole series reread again, but less certain that I would just pull it off my shelf and read it just because. It is an enjoyable read, but not one of my favourites.

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