Anne is the mother of five, with never a dull moment in her lively home. And now with a new baby on the way and insufferable Aunt Mary visiting – and wearing out her welcome – Anne’s life is full to bursting.
Still, Mrs Doctor can’t think of any place she’d rather be than her own beloved Ingleside. Until the day she begins to worry that her adored Gilbert doesn’t love her anymore. How could that be? She may be a little older, but she’s still the same irrepressible, irreplaceable redhead – the wonderful Anne of Green Gables, all grown up… She’s ready to make her cherished husband fall in love with her all over again!
First published in 1938, Anne of Ingleside was written long after the earlier Anne books and was the last to be published during L.M Montgomery’s lifetime. The later Anne books are different in tone to the earlier ones, perhaps as a consequence of the troubled times facing the world and their author, and it is very evident in Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside which deal with a grown up Anne. Anne still has some of her endearing qualities but the dreamer from the first books is long gone and it is a great pity.
The book takes place seven years after Anne’s marriage to Gilbert and they are now parents to five children with another on the way. In the opening chapters, Anne and Gilbert are back in Avonlea for the funeral of Gilbert’s father and it gives Anne time to catch up with her best friend, Diana. Anne and Diana take a day for themselves where they pretend they are young girls again and relive some of their favourite times as children before they return to their busy lives as wives and mothers. We get to the chance to renew our acquaintance with some old Avonlea friends but we don’t get to stay with them nearly long enough.
While the story concentrates on Anne’s life as a mother, the real focus begins to move towards her increasing brood of children who are soon embroiled in adventures of their own. Anne’s children are full of dreams like their mother, however the other children in Glen St. Mary’s are not as innocent and they often take advantage of the innocence of the Blyth children who learn some harsh lessons. Each of the children is brought into the spotlight with the exception of the two youngest, Shirley and Bertha Marilla, who are still infants. The adventures of the children are mildly amusing but I really wish their had been more focus on Anne and Gilbert.
The fly in the ointment comes in the shape of Gilbert’s father’s cousin, Mary Maria Blythe, who come to Ingleside for an extended stay and outlives her welcome very early on. Aunt Mary Maria seems to disapprove of everything at Ingleside and isn’t shy about sharing it either to the extent the whole family are walking around on eggshells. Aunt Mary Maria is a rather unpleasant character who seems immune to Anne’s charms and it is a relief when she finally goes.
While I like the introduction of new characters, L.M Montgomery wasn’t very good at keeping her characters in her books and most are dropped to the wayside after appearing in only one book. Anne’s brief encounter with Diana reminds us of their vow to be best friends forever but there is precious little evidence of it. Christine Stewart is also reintroduced as a perceived rival for Gilbert’s affections but the whole storyline is tacked on to the end and has no real depth to it. The threat is all in Anne’s head and Christine seems nothing like the character she was before to the point she is barely recognisable.
Anne of Ingleside is the last book to have Anne as a main character as the final two books in the series focus on the fate of her children, however I feel like our Anne disappeared the moment she became Mrs. Dr. Blythe.