Monday, October 31, 2011

Anne's House of Dreams

The title: Anne's House of Dreams
The author: L.M. Montgomery
Publication: Book in Motion Audio, originally 1917
Got it from: Overdrive

I wish I'd thought of listening to audiobooks sooner.  Ever since I got my iPod touch, I've been discovering apps and things that are so much easier to do with just a few clicks, and suddenly it dawned on me last week that audiobooks could be a great way to add more books to my life.  Previously, the thought of sitting next to some sort of stereo and listening did not appeal to me, but now that I can download them through my library in seconds and listen to them virtually anyway - oh my goodness, I'm hooked.  It's such a great thing to have when you're doing housework.  It's so great, in fact, that I was looking for more chores to do last Sunday night because I was enjoying my book so much and didn't want to stop.

Right now, it's the classics that I'm interested in, and catching up with old favourites I didn't have time for and new-to-me-classics that I've been meaning to get to but just haven't.  Anne's House of Dreams has been on my re-read list for years and with its short chapters and familiar story, it was perfect for listening to.  Actually, it's doubly perfect, considering so much of the story is an homage to oral storytelling.  In this fifth novel in the series, Anne is grown-up and marrying sweetheart Gilbert Blythe, who has taken a post as doctor on the other side of the Island.  (We Maritimers always refer to PEI as "the Island," because really, what other island is there?  Um, sorry, Cape Breton.)  They end up in the idyllic town of Glen St. Mary, along the sea, and settle into a little cottage with a long history, and soon make friends with their neighbours: the loveable old sea captain Jim, the hilarious and man-hating Cornelia Bryant, and the beautiful and mysterious Leslie Moore who has a dark past.  Very little of the story focuses on Anne and Gilbert's actual marriage; Anne's pregnancy is only very coyly referred to until suddenly a baby appears - or doesn't.  A tragic infant death reminds us that in Montgomery's world, childbirth was still a very risky business.  It's hard not to think that Montgomery was working out her grief at her own baby's death with Anne's loss.  

There's so much here that Anne fans will love, despite the tragedy: colourful village characters, lavish descriptions of seashores and gardens, and quaint glimpses into a long-gone rural way of life.  It's the kind of story that just goes with a chilly fall evening.  I felt like I was visiting old friends.  I expect to revisit the rest of the series in audiobook sometime soon.

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