I’m continuing my way through a reread of the Anne of Green Gables series, and continue to have more thoughts. This time I’m thinking about Book 7, Rainbow Valley. Rather like certain Oz books, this is the Anne book that isn’t an Anne book. But it’s very much a Montgomery book, with certain of her attitudes on full display.
By the time Montgomery wrote Rainbow Valley, I really don’t think she wanted to write about the Blythes anymore. This was her fifth book (4 and 6 were written later), and because she wrote it before Anne of Ingleside, it was the first with Anne and Gilbert’s children. With the partial exception of Walter, Montgomery doesn’t seem very interested in the Blythe children. She gave Anne a happy ending, Anne’s children grow up in the midst of said-happy ending, and Montgomery was not yet at a point in her life when taking refuge in that happy ending was welcome to her (as in Anne of Ingleside).
So she did what other authors have done–billed the book as next in a popular series, then proceeded to write an almost original novel. We get about two chapters of Anne and her family, then the focus shifts irrevocably to elsewhere in the neighborhood, to tell the story of the less fortunate and more interesting (to Montgomery, and by narrative convention) Meredith family. I have to admit, the bait and switch has taken me many reads to get over. I think this is the first time I’ve managed to really accept that this is not and was never going to be a Blythe novel, rather than feeling that we somehow got cheated out of the story that was meant to be here in the series. And you know, after getting past that, this is a good novel! Continue reading