Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
The sixth or eight book in the Anne of Green Gables series, depending on whether you go by internal chronology or date written. It says '6' on the spine of my paperback copy, so that's the order in which I read it.
This is an oddly-structured book, flipping back and forth between adult concerns and the concerns of children. It's got the usual Montgomery trademarks: descriptions of nature, funny and lighthearted scenes with a certain darkness underneath, and engaging characters. It's hard to classify it as either a children's book or an adult work. I mean, this is a story that at one point centers on the disappointment that comes from discovering that the recluse you had turned into someone beautiful and wicked in your imagination is actually a kindly old woman who just wants to feed you peppermints, but also doesn't shy away from things like spousal abuse and the way that a dog is a broken heart waiting to happen.
There are a lot of meditations on motherhood, and Victorian gender roles are firmly in place. At one point, Anne thinks of the boys going off to their lives work, while picturing the girls coming downstairs in their wedding dresses. It's hard to remember that this book was written in 1939, when plenty of people were already questioning the role of women, when plenty of women were already pursuing careers that weren't in schools or libraries. But these books are, at the risk of being trite, timeless, so to find them unaffected by the events going on around Montgomery when they were written is not really surprising.
Not all Victorian mores and customs are uncomfortable. I love that Rilla is described as 'fat' and 'rolly-polly' in a completely neutral and non-judgemental way. On the other hand, I could do without all of the references to castor oil. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.
In any case, I enjoyed it, as I've been enjoying the entire series. It's comforting to read something that is generally optimistic and gently written, but that doesn't verge on the twee--well, not very often. A few of the scenes with the kids get close. I had to take a break from the series after I read Anne's House of Dreams
. That was my least favorite of the books so far, but whether the fault was in the book, or I just had gotten tired of the series after reading five books all in a row, I can't really say. I suspect the later, since this book is no better or worse than that one, and I liked it much better.
Next up is Rainbow Valley
, which I suspect will put us firmly back into children's book territoryThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The latest in my effort to read the children's classics that I never bothered with when I was actually a child. This is one that I really wish I had read when I was younger, though most of the wordplay would have gone over my head. I enjoyed it as an adult all the same, though sadly spent a fair amount of time picking apart the logic and plausibility of the whole thing which, you know, not the point. But at a certain point it gets hard to turn those critical reasoning bits of your brain off, which is why I say I wish I had first encountered this as a kid.Allegiance
I actually will not be that upset if Allegiance ends after 13 episodes as long as it doesn't end on a terrible cliffhanger, and it doesn't end with everyone dead or in prison or on the run for the rest of their lives. I accept that those fates will probably come to some of them, but give me closure and some semblance of a happy ending, and I'll be satisfied. The whole premise works better as a miniseries than a continuing show anyway.( Spoilers for everything through episode 10 )