23 Jan 2015

Reread 2015: Rilla of Ingleside

First Published: 1921
Country of Origin: Canada
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover | Purchased

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I first read Rilla of Ingleside when I was in high school, although I can't be precisely sure when.

Jem, Walter and Shirley all sign up for WWI at various stages, and Anne is devastated by it... that's pretty much all.

I kind of felt like I hadn't given Rilla Blythe a fair go the first time around. Rilla is a lot more self-centred and vain than Anne Shirley ever was, and she takes herself even more seriously.

 Oh boy, oh boy. I think Rilla of Ingleside is my favourite in the series after Anne of Green Gables.
It's interesting to read about characters who are so patriotic about a country they've never seen - it's so easy to do, because Australians used to have a similar attitude; referring to England as 'the Mother Country' and radio announcers putting on this weird accent that was a cross between Australian and RP English. Despite the idealistic tone of the series, Montgomery does not hide the ugliness of war.  It's hard reading about Rilla, who at one point exclaims, "Our sacrifice is greater than his. Our boys give only themselves. We give them," getting up at a meeting and encourage boys, really, to sign up for the war. It's hard reading about Anne's grief, and her struggle to deal with losing yet another child. It's hard reading about the Blythe's dog Monday, who refuses to leave the train station until Jem returns home. Even though it centres around people who did not go off to fight in a war, the book still manages to impress upon you the savageness of war, and how the world changed forever because of it. This book is not children's literature, but a classic about World War One, deserving of a place beside All Quiet on the Western Front and A Very Long Engagement.

Without a doubt, it is now a beloved favourite.

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