Michele's Reviews > Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
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Dec 25, 11

Read in December, 2011

I knew what to expect going into this book, from inadvertently reading summaries. Even if I hadn't, the Pied Piper foreshadowing in Rainbow Valley, gave this last book's big development away. Even so, it was very moving. I read it during a flight and cried like a lunatic the whole plane route.

Being mostly familiar with U. S. History, it was interesting to see the war from a Canadian perspective. Susan's view on Woodrow Wilson and his love of "notes" was hilarious. It makes me wish that Montgomery could have written one during World War II as well. I'd like to know what Susan would say of FDR and to see how PEI would have reacted to events leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

It was interesting that women only got the right to vote during the war and only women with husbands and sons could vote at that! Despite the sexism at the time, I find Montgomery's women to be quite equal and independent thinkers, even young Rilla, the only one of the Blythe children who, seemingly, lacks ambition.

It's also notable that the family did not judge "sissy" Walter, even if some of his school mates did. His sensitivity was a derivative of Anne's, but many societies would not appreciate or tolerate it. Given the bullying that leads to suicide and murder so often in American schools these days, the Ingleside perception of Walter seems quite topical.

What Walter said in his last letter, about it being harder for him to return than to die in battle, was another prescient moment on his part. He knew that the memories of what he had seen -- done, would be overwhelming for him. It hinted at the post-traumatic stress syndrome that is acknowledged (but still not fully appreciated) today.

What would certainly never fly in today's world is Bruce's drowning of the cat, to ensure Jem's safe return home. Everyone thought his gesture was "wonderful, wonderful". Rilla pointed out that he'd have to learn you could never bargain with God, but not one character ever criticized what he did to the poor cat! Of course, cats have been abused in stories for decades, but usually by naughty boys, not "good" ones. I found that episode both shocking and droll.

When Walter and Faith rode pigs down the street, Gilbert jokingly objected on behalf of the swine, but he said not a word in defense of Bruce's drowned cat! Montgomery certainly knows how to personify animals when she wants, but in this instance she wasn't concerned with feline feelings.

I loved the ending, but found myself wondering just why Ken Ford had taken two weeks to contact Rilla after arriving home. I concentrated on his face scar and told myself maybe he was healing from injuries and did not want to communicate with her until he could stand face to face in good health, but I'm not sure. I know his concentration was on the war, but his diffidence was frustrating. The poor girl didn't even know where she stood for 4 years.

The lines that stood up and had me tearing long after the book was closed were Anne telling Susan to set the table for everyone, even the dear lad whose chair must always be vacant. Susan answered that it was not likely she'd forget to set his plate and I cry even now just typing about it.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Raagavi nimmala I agree with you on Bruce's drowning of his cat, I found that wrong on so many levels. Also after my initial sorrow over Walter's death i have finally come to the conclusion that it was just as well. I think he would have been too overwhelmed with the grossness of war to have ever been able to live a peaceful life!


Michele Raagavi. You're right, given Walter's sensitivity. We might have had been reading an exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder, had he survived.


Fiona Doesn't Anne of Ingleside spoil it too in the end? I seem to remember Anne looking at the sleeping boys and imagining a tombstone above Walter or something?


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