March 9, 2008

Anne of Windy Poplars (#4): Review

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In the fourth of the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne of Windy Poplars, our heroine Anne Shirley graduated university and gained a position as principal of Summerside High School. Anne's on her own. She has to make new friends in a new town. Not much of a problem for Anne, you might think, but she finds herself in hostile territory. The town is run by a family named Pringle and Summerside is lousy with Pringles. The Pringles are a clannish group who have a passive aggressive way of running people they don't like out of town. Poor Anne unknowingly took the post of principal from...a Pringle. Somehow (I won't say how) Anne gets the Pringles on her side just when she's about to give it all up. Anne goes on to make friends of nearly every odd character she runs across, until her three years are up and she heads back to Avonlea.

Told mostly through letters to Gilbert, the book's full of Anne's peppy optimism. Anne vows to find the good in everyone, making the reader think that even the most surly curmudgeon has a warm, fuzzy side. The townspeople are often caricatures of small town folk. The nosies, the talkers, the 'old blood'. Sometimes it gets a bit much but I recognized people I know in the characters. Montgomery's pen is sharp but there's love in her writing.

I love reading the Anne series. I'm not sure Anne of Windy Poplars can be considered a children's book. Anne's a young woman in her twenties tackling the working world. Montgomery is probably one of the most recognizable Canadian authors. Her books are such fun to read with beautifully written prose. When I think of CanLit now, I can't help thinking, where did it turn a 180? There's great writing, sure, but finding a happy ending in a modern Canadian novel is like finding a needle in a haystack. What a bunch of downers we've become. If John took requests for the Wednesday Compare, I'd suggest he pit Montgomery against Atwood: Optimist vs Pessimist.

Book #5 for the Canadian Book Challenge, and also Raidergirl's choice for The Something About Me Challenge.
4/5

12 comments :

  1. Oh I LOVE this whole series!! I must re-read them all some day...

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  2. Sadly, the only Anne book I've read is the first one, but it sounds like the series would interest me even more as it moves along. Great review!

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  3. I know I read a ton of the Anne books when I was a kid but I don't really remember them :( I do remember this movie though!

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  4. How many small towns have Pringles?

    A few years back on Canada Reads when Rockbound won, some of the participants said they found the ending too contrived because it was happy. I think unhappy, or worse ambiguous, endings are now the contrived. I don't blame Atwood as much as I do Alice Munro.

    I have had both Atwood and Montgomery up for Wednesday compares by the way, but unfortunately not against one another.

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  5. I love the Anne series but I remeber that this one was probably my least favorite of the series. I need to read again and see if I have a different opinion (last time I read it was 20 yrs. ago!). I started reading the series again this past Christmas but didn't make it past #3.

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  6. Great review! I do plan to get through the entire series one of these days! I loved Anne of Green Gables and want to experience more!

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  7. I totally agree! I hate it when my book club chooses a CanLit title because I know it'll be dreary and depressing. (And I looooove Anne! :) )

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  8. I found you via your comment on Dolce Bellezza's blog. I agree a hundred percent. What is going on with downer books, not just in Canada but in the US too? I think all the Anne books are excellent adult reading. There is so much to learn about people and life. I mean to re-read them every few years. I wonder what happened to the idea of books encouraging people to be better, and live better lives. Some of them were too preachy but the ones that simply told a good story about good people made the world a better place, methinks. You've got a great blog and I'll be back.

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  9. Joanna- I have 5& 6 on the shelf as well. I'll get to them eventually.

    Andi- Definitely give it a try.

    Ladytink- A re-read won't do you good!

    Raidergirl- lol!

    John- I've never read a Munro book. It seems that authors are going out of their way to write depressing books. Life's not all that bad!

    Pam- I wouldn't say it was the best but it was enjoyable.

    Teddy- I'm so glad that you liked the first one.

    Tinylibrarian- Someone's got to change that.

    Nan- Thanks for visiting! The thing I like about Anne is that she could complain- she had it rough- but she finds the good in everyone. It's all in the attitude. Even Montgomery herself had hard times but she wrote beautiful stories.

    Whew! I got so behind in replies. I'm glad so many people commented on Anne. Thanks.

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  10. Ladytink- Oops! Will do you good. I really have to proofread better.

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  11. As much as I love the Anne series, I have to admit that this was my least favourite of ALL of Montgomery's books. I can't quite put my finger on it, but...

    That said, it was good to read a review from someone who does enjoy the book. :)

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