It’s late on a school night as I write this post, but I feel somehow that I’d be remiss in letting February pass by without sharing at least one book review for our #12MonthsofBooks theme. This month the goal was to read books based around the idea that “The Greatest of these is Love.” And while I’ve been actively listening to and reading a few good love stories, over the weekend I had the chance to reread an old favorite, Anne’s House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This book is the fifth in her Anne of Green Gables series, one of my all-time favorites.
When I became a teacher, I started an annual tradition of leafing back through Anne of Avonlea every August before school starts. For a long time I’ve told people it’s my favorite book in the series because it chronicles Anne’s own journey to teacher-hood.
Anne’s House of Dreams starts with Anne’s wedding to the greatest literary love-interest of all time, Gilbert Blythe. Is that a spoiler? I hope not. Anyways, the two move into a tiny, story-soaked cottage on the coast, and they meet an amazing cast of characters while they’re there.
One of the reasons why this book might have supplanted Anne of Avonlea in my heart for the time being is that reading it gave me the same experience that reading Sarah Miller’s Caroline did. This is the first time I’ve really re-read an Anne book as an adult, and this one seemed especially poignant and touching to me. As soon as I opened Anne’s House of Dreams I suddenly remembered how much I loved it when I was growing up. It was like I had sections of this book memorized without even realizing it–I’d start a passage and suddenly hear the language from some distant part of my memory.
Even with all the reminiscing, it was a different experience to reread this book as an adult. Maybe it’s because when I was in middle school I didn’t quite understand all of the different themes in this book, or maybe it’s because as I’ve grown up the romantic part of me has only gotten more pronounced. Either way, it was charming and emotional, and I definitely cried at the end–but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
So often I associate Anne Shirley with fairyland and imagination and “kindred spirits,” but this one deals with change, growing up, loss, and real love. Yes, Anne and Gilbert’s relationship might be a little too perfect, but their lives aren’t always simple and sweet, which is something I appreciated about this part of their love story. I know that these books aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a love story that hits all the right notes, you can’t go wrong with Anne’s House of Dreams–or any of the Anne books, for that matter. I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes:
“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people know more… though I know that is the noblest ambition… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
“It’s so beautiful that it hurts me,’ said Anne softly. ‘Perfect things like that always did hurt me — I remember I called it “the queer ache” when I was a child. What is the reason that pain like this seems inseparable from perfection? Is it the pain of finality — when we realize that there can be nothing beyond but retrogression?’
‘Perhaps,’ said Owen dreamily, ‘it is the prisoned infinite in us calling out to its kindred infinite as expressed in that visible perfection.”
“Our library isn’t very extensive,” said Anne, “but every book in it is a friend. We’ve picked our books up through the years, here and there, never buying one until we had first read it and knew that it belonged to the race of Joseph.”