I don't read much for leisure when the semester starts, as I've mentioned before. When I do, it's usually a classic I have on the Kindle app on my phone. I like it because I can pull up a book pretty much anywhere, like when I can't sleep or when I've arrived early to a dentist appointment. Also, I never lose my place because the app saves it each time. It's pretty nifty.
I recently finished reading Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It's the last book in the Anne of Green Gables series. I grew up reading those books. I absolutely adore them. I hated not having red hair like Anne or interesting grey eyes. My mom has green eyes, and a lot of people in my family have red hair, so the genes were there. But, alas, it was not to be.
Rilla of Ingleside was really surprising to me. It definitely had a lot of the Anne element to it; the imagery was amazing, and the relationships really drew me in emotionally. It wasn't necessarily the style that had changed. The book's focus on World War I shocked me a little. It wasn't something I expected in the Anne series, though I don't know why. Rainbow Valley had a lot of foreshadowing that clued me off, but I guess I didn't expect it to be so poignant.
What really surprised me is how overlooked I feel this book is. From my understanding (and I did look into it), this book is unique because it is written about World War I by a female contemporary from a female perspective. And this book really seems to hit it on the head. I haven't really encountered much literature from a woman's perspective about a war, but I really connected with Rilla and the people of Ingleside waiting for their boys to come home from war, worrying about whether or not they would make it through.
Romance was included, but it certainly wasn't the focal point of the novel. The relationships between brothers and sisters, mothers and sons, and childhood chums were the central focus. Reading about the change from optimistic excitement about the war to drawn out, tortured waiting for it to be over was heartbreaking. I feel like it was an incredible reading experience. Honestly, I wondered why it hasn't been included in classes at my school that deal with literature in this time period.
If you're ever looking for a good classic, I highly recommend this book. Rilla of Ingleside certainly includes several references to the books before it, but it could stand on its own if you don't have the time to read the others. This book will give you a good idea of what it was like when the war started and how those waiting at home for news lived through from day to day not knowing whether or not their loved ones were still alive. Let me know what you think of the book.