Title: Rilla of Ingleside.
Author: L.M. Montgomery.
Genre: Fiction, YA, children's lit, family saga, war lit.
Publication Date: 1921.
Summary: Anne's children are almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one can resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can't think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse, and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever as she sends her loved ones overseas one by one, and waits for World War I to be over.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ Certainly, Monday's looks were not his strong point. Black spots were scattered at random over his yellow carcass, one of them blotting out an eye. His ears were in tatters, for Monday was never successful in affairs of honour. But he possessed one talisman. He knew that not all dogs could be handsome or eloquent or victorious, but that every dog could love. Inside his homely hide beat the most affectionate, loyal, faithful heart of any dog since dogs were; and something looked out of his brown eyes that was nearer akin to a soul than any theologian would allow.
♥ A few days ago nobody had even thought of such a thing. It was absurd to think of it now. Some way out would be found. War was a hellish, horrible, hideous thing–too horrible and hideous to happen in the twentieth century between civilized nations. The mere thought of it was hideous, and made Walter unhappy in its threat to the beauty of life. He would not think of it – he would resolutely put it out of his mind. How beautiful the old Glen was, in its August ripeness, with its chain of bowery old homesteads, tilled meadows and quiet gardens. The western sky was like a great golden pearl. Far down the harbour was frosted with a dawning moonlight. The air was full of exquisite sounds – sleepy robin whistles, wonderful, mournful, soft murmurs of wind in the twilit trees, rustle of aspen poplars talking in silvery whispers and shaking their dainty, heart-shaped leaves, lilting young laughter from the windows of rooms where the girls were making ready for the dance. The world was steeped in maddening loveliness of sound and colour. He would think only of these things and of the deep, subtle joy they gave him.
♥ "As for a night like this, it is almost too beautiful – it belongs to youth and dreamland and I'm half afraid of it.”
"I feel as if I were part of it," said Rilla.
"Ah yes, you're young enough not to be afraid of perfect things.”
♥ "What does it matter if there's going to be a war over there in Europe? I'm sure it doesn’t concern us.”
Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visitations of prophecy.
"Before this war is over," he said – or something said through his lips – "every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it – you, Mary, will feel it – feel it to your heart's core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come–and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over–years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break."
♥ She felt suddenly lonely and unhappy. It was worse than if he had never noticed her at all. Was life like this – something delightful happening and then, just as you were revelling in it, slipping away from you? Rilla told herself pathetically that she felt years older than when she had left home that evening. Perhaps she did – perhaps she was. Who knows? It does not do to laugh at the pangs of youth. They are very terrible because youth has not yet learned that "this, too, will pass away."
♥ Could she really ever have cried just because she had been forgotten and had to walk home with Mary Vance? Ah, thought Rilla sadly, how trivial and absurd such a cause of tears now appeared to her. She could cry now with a right good will – but she would not – she must not. What was it mother had said, looking, with her white lips and stricken eyes, as Rilla had never seen her mother look before,
"When our women fail in courage,
Shall our men be fearless still?"
Yes, that was it. She must be brave – like mother – and Nan – and Faith – Faith, who had cried with flashing eyes, "Oh, if I were only a man, to go too!" Only, when her eyes ached and her throat burned like this she had to hide herself in Rainbow Valley for a little, just to think things out and remember that she wasn't a child any longer – she was grown-up and women had to face things like this.
♥ "It is not a nice thing to feel yourself a coward."
♥ "Without shedding of blood there is no anything," said Mr. Meredith, in the gentle dreamy way which had an unexpected trick of convincing his hearers. "Everything, it seems to me, has to be purchased by self-sacrifice. Our race has marked every step of its painful ascent with blood. And now torrents of it must flow again. No, Mrs. Crawford, I don't think the war has been sent as a punishment for sin. I think it is the price humanity must pay for some blessing – some advance great enough to be worth the price – which we may not live to see but which our children's children will inherit."
♥ "I am not," proceeded Susan firmly, "going to lament or whine or question the wisdom of the Almighty any more as I have been doing lately. Whining and shirking and blaming Providence do not get us anywhere. We have just got to grapple with whatever we have to do whether it is weeding the onion patch, or running the Government. I shall grapple. Those blessed boys have gone to war; and we women, Mrs. Dr. dear, must tarry by the stuff and keep a stiff upper lip."
♥ "If I can't love you I mean to be proud of you."
♥ "'Believe' we'll win the war!" exclaimed Susan. "No, Miss Oliver, dear, I do not believe – I know. We must just trust in God and make big guns."
♥ Whenever any of you go to the station be sure to give Dog Monday a double pat for me. Fancy the faithful little beggar waiting there for me like that! Honestly, dad, on some of these dark cold nights in the trenches, it heartens and braces me up no end to think that thousands of miles away at the old Glen station there is a small spotted dog sharing my vigil.
♥ "Laughter is gone out of the world," said Faith Meredith, who had come over to report on her letters. "I remember telling old Mrs. Taylor long ago that the world was a world of laughter. But it isn't so any longer."
"It's a shriek of anguish," said Gertrude Oliver.
"We must keep a little laughter, girls," said Mrs. Blythe. "A good laugh is as good as a prayer sometimes – only sometimes," she added under her breath.
♥ "There is a Call greater and more insistent than the call of our love – he has listened to it. We must not add to the bitterness of his sacrifice."
"Our sacrifice is greater than his," cried Rilla passionately. "Our boys give only themselves. We give them."
♥ "We won't be– happy– in the same way," said Rilla.
"No, not in the same way. Nobody whom this war has touched will ever be happy again in quite the same way. But it will be a better happiness, I think, little sister – a happiness we've earned. We were very happy before the war, weren't we? With a home like Ingleside, and a father and mother like ours we couldn't help being happy. But that happiness was a gift from life and love; it wasn't really ours – life could take it back at any time. It can never take away the happiness we win for ourselves in the way of duty."
♥ "I must be getting old, Gilbert." Mrs. Blythe laughed a trifle ruefully. "People are beginning to tell me I look so young. They never tell you that when you are young."
♥ And still" – Rilla gave a little apologetic laugh, "I don't want to suffer any more – not even for the sake of more soul growth. At the end of two more years I might look back and be thankful for the development they had brought me, too; but I don't want it now."
"We never do," said Miss Oliver. "That is why we are not left to choose our own means and measure of development, I suppose. No matter how much we value what our lessons have brought us we don't want to go on with the bitter schooling."
♥ But whether it's life or death, I'm not afraid, Rilla-my-Rilla, and I am not sorry that I came. I'm satisfied. I'll never write the poems I once dreamed of writing – but I've helped to make Canada safe for the poets of the future – for the workers of the future – ay, and the dreamers, too – for if no man dreams, there will be nothing for the workers to fulfil – the future, not of Canada only but of the world – when the 'red rain' of Langemarck and Verdun shall have brought forth a golden harvest – not in a year or two, as some foolishly think, but a generation later, when the seed sown now shall have had time to germinate and grow.
...And you will tell your children of the Idea we fought and died for – teach them it must be lived for as well as died for, else the price paid for it will have been given for nought. This will be part of your work, Rilla. And if you – all you girls back in the homeland – do it, then we who don't come back will know that you have not 'broken faith' with us.
♥ "It seems to me that the sum of human happiness remains much the same from age to age, no matter how it may vary in distribution, and that all the 'many inventions' neither lessen nor increase it."
♥ "Anne," he said, turning to his wife, "do you remember the first time I took you for a buggy ride in Avonlea – that night we went to the Carmody concert, the first fall you taught in Avonlea? I had out little black mare with the white star on her forehead, and a shining brand-new buggy – and I was the proudest fellow in the world, barring none. I suppose our grandson will be taking his sweetheart out quite casually for an evening 'fly' in his aeroplane."
"An aeroplane won't be as nice as little Silverspot was," said Anne. "A machine is simply a machine – but Silverspot, why she was a personality, Gilbert. A drive behind her had something in it that not even a flight among sunset clouds could have. No, I don't envy my grandson's sweetheart, after all. Mr. Meredith is right. 'The kingdom of Heaven' – and of love – and of happiness – doesn't depend on externals."
♥ "Yet he did not love Walter as much as he loved Jem. If he mourned for Walter like that, do you suppose he would sleep sound in his kennel the night after Jem had been killed? No, Rilla dear, little Jem is not dead, and that you may tie to. If he were, Dog Monday would have known, just as he knew before, and he would not be still waiting for the trains."
It was absurd – and irrational – and impossible. But Rilla believed it, for all that; and Mrs. Blythe believed it; and the doctor, though he smiled faintly in pretended derision, felt an odd confidence replace his first despair; and foolish and absurd or not, they all plucked up heart and courage to carry on, just because a faithful little dog at the Glen station was still watching with unbroken faith for his master to come home.
♥ "And there is one who will never come. At least we will not see him if he does. But, oh, I think he will be there – when our Canadian soldiers return there will be a shadow army with them – the army of the fallen. We will not see them – but they will be there!"