23 Jan 2015

Reread 2015: Rainbow Valley

First published: 1919
Country of Origin: Canada
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover | Purchased

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I can't remember when I first read Rainbow Valley, but I know I read it later than the others because I was so disappointed that Anne of Ingleside had pushed Anne into the background. I think I was in Year 10.

Again, not a lot. I remembered Faith, mostly because she reminds me of Anne when we first introduced to her, and I  remembered Carl and his little menagerie of reptiles, but that's about it.

I wanted to give the later Anne books another go! A lot of people complain that Anne has lost her charm in the later books - which, as a teenager, I definitely agreed with - but then again, we can't expect Anne at forty to behave the same way she did when she was eleven.

This book is even less of an Anne book than Anne of Ingleside. Neither Anne, nor Gilbert, nor their children get centre stage in this book - instead, it centres around the Meredith children, who one day befriend the Blythe children in Rainbow Valley. John Meredith is the new Presbyterian minister, a young widower with four children - Jerry, Faith, Una and Carl. However, Mr Meredith usually has his head in the clouds and his nose in his books, and is completely at a loss when it comes to bringing up his children. The Meredith children cause a lot of scandal in Four Winds, and are deemed wild. 

I definitely enjoyed Rainbow Valley more than Anne of Ingleside - the children were older, which meant less of the 'cutesy' and more heartfelt. The Meredith children especially tugged at my heartstrings - underneath all of the scrapes was a desire to be loved by their father and respected by the people in their community (remind you of anyone?). I think it also helped that, unlike Ingleside (and I think also Windy Willows) is that this was written before Montgomery fell out of love with her own creation, and it shows. The characters are lively and jump off the page. I had a very strong reaction to Mary Vance, who, despite being very unlikeable (too sharp a tongue and too high an opinion of herself), is very memorable and dynamic. Faith is a joy to read. And although I found John Meredith to be a neglectful father, there were still moments were I really felt for him.

Although not my favourite of the series, the plot of the book is so far removed from the others that I would gladly reread this as a standalone novel.

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