Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anne of Windy Poplars by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of Windy Poplars by Lucy Maud Montgomery is the fourth book in the Anne of Green Gable series.  However, it was written long after the first three were published which suggests that Montgomery was filling in some blanks or driven to write it for other reasons.  I remember reading a long time ago that L Frank Baum wanted to stop writing the Oz books long before fans grew tired of them.  (And the fact that a few Oz books written by people other than Baum were published after his death goes to show you just how hungry the audience was.  Not unlike V C Andrews who continues to be publishing books longer after her death because her books were always nothing if not formulaic and she left a model for her novels that other writers can easily mimic.  But I digress . . .)

I can’t say that I especially liked this book.  It suffers from the worst that made up Victorian literature.  Epistolary beginning gives way to typical stories about love and romance with predictable endings preceded by ludicrous plot manipulations that force the happy ending.  Not unlike reading an O Henry story.  Or even a collection of his stories because, really, that is all this novel is--a collection of loosely connected stories that don't really flow together and often feel more redundant than inspired.

Another drawback is that Anne Shirley is no longer living at Green Gables and, although she goes home to visit, there are new people in her life.  A lot of new people.  Too many new people.  Meddling in one romance or two is one thing but in this book she meddles in so many relationships, not all of them necessarily romantic as a few are purely familial and, ergo, platonic.  She seems more like a matchmaker than a principal at a school.

But for those who were wondering where the inspiration for Anne of Avonlea, the miniseries, came, this is the source material–complete with Pringles and such.  Only, there are so many pieces of the story on the page that rightfully were never put on the television screen and, when you get right down to it, I prefer the show to this book.  And while I can forgive the quality of the writing, I must say that Montgomery’s flowery prose and her constantly telling rather than showing is quickly becoming tedious.

In other words, I believe this is where the romance ends for me.  However, there are 8 books in the series and I really do want to read them all, or at least the first six which are Anne of this and Anne’s this or that (while the final two are R something and something else).  I may bite the bullet and read all 8 books this year.  Who knows?  I only know that when I said with the last book that I could feel the lover affair drawing to a close, I can bluntly state that I should have stopped with that book and never ever read further.  Now that I have, I am loath to stop here.  After all, a commitment is a commitment and maybe, just maybe, it will turn around and get better.

One can only hope.

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