12 Jan 2015

Reread 2015: Anne's House of Dreams

 First published: 1917
Country of Origin: Canada
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover | Purchased

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 I first read Anne's House of Dreams when I was in year seven or eight and on an Anne of Green Gables kick. Up until that point, the only books in the series that I had read were Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of Windy Willows, so realising that I actually had access to the entire series (!!!) was highly exciting for twelve-year-old Kim.

 I remembered the little brook in the corner of Anne & Gilbert's back yard (this stuck in my head, for some reason), and that Anne almost died giving birth to their first child, and that their baby girl lived only a day. I remembered Miss Cornelia Bryant, if only because she is essentially Mrs Rachel Lynde with the catch phrase, "believe me." I remembered Leslie Moore, because it is near impossible to forget her tragic story. But there was so many little things I forgot! Which is to be expected, I suppose, when there's over ten years between your first read and your first reread. 

Once you start reading about Anne Shirley, you cannot stop. I was originally going to reread the books three books a month, but I've kind of put aside all my other reading so I can finish rereading the series. I can't help it - Anne Shirley is a delight, and getting to spend so much time with her and Gilbert is lovely and their relationship makes my heart melt. 

This book is a little sadder than the other Anne books. Aside from Matthew, it's the first time Anne has experienced real tragedy, real loss and it affects Anne permanently.

This book is also a treasure to read: it's Anne and Gilbert's story. The first four books belong to Anne: the people she meets, the lives she touches, her growth as a character. The last three books focus on their children, and Anne and Gilbert become secondary characters. But this book - this is their book. Their relationship is the real focus of this book, and it is gorgeous. Everything from their wedding to their first disagreement to the loss of their first baby is catalogued, and it is watching how the pair react to these moments that show how much they love one another. A lot of people say that Anne gave up her dreams of being a famous author in order to become Gilbert's wife, to which I will respond with this quote:

"And some people might think that a Redmond B.A., whom editors were beginning to honour, was 'wasted' as the wife of a struggling country doctor in the rural community of Four Winds." [...] "Gilbert, that's mean - 'pisen mean, just like all the men,' as Miss Cornelia says... You know I'd rather be your wife in our house of dreams and fulfillment than a queen in a palace.
 In other words: I think Anne found something that she wanted to be more than an author - she wanted to be a wife and mother, and she willingly made a choice to give up writing. There was nothing stopping her from continuing writing - Gilbert at one point suggests that she write Captain Jim's life story, which makes me think that he would've been quite happy for Anne to continue writing. I just don't think Anne, talented as she was, felt the pull of it the way Emily Starr did.

This book contains a lot of shippy moments, so people who adore the pairing of Anne/Gilbert (as I do) or read books primarily for the romance will adore it. However, there are so many interesting characters enriching Anne and Gilbert's lives - Leslie Moore, Owen Ford, Captain Jim, Cornelia Bryant - that people who read Montgomery's work for the character studies will love it also.

Yes, absolutely! Anne's House of Dreams is one of my favourites of the series along with Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island, and know that it'll be one that I pull out and read or even skim just because I want to revisit it, rather than just rereading because it is part of the series.

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