Sunday 10 April 2011
Anne's House of Dreams
After three years of waiting, Anne finally fulfils all her friends's prophecies and marries Gilbert Blythe. Gilbert is now qualified as a doctor and has taken a position sixty miles from their home town of Avonlea. The newlyweds move to a tiny village called Glen St Mary which overlooks the Four Winds Harbour, and set up their "house of dreams" in a tiny cottage with a beautiful seaview. If you think of the Anne series primarily as a romance, it makes a nice change to see the couple after the wedding, and the ups and downs of "happily ever after."
And then there is Leslie Moore. Leslie forms a strange, hostile friendship with Anne, but although Anne knows they could be "kindred spirits," there is a barrier between them. Leslie's life is like the photo-negative of Anne's, for while Anne is perfectly happy (even with her red hair) with a wonderful husband and joyful life, Leslie has experienced tragedy after tragedy, ending up trapped in a loveless marriage. The barrier between the women comes down later, but at such a cost!
Although marketed as children's books, it is clear that this is no longer a kids' series. Anne's House of Dreams is full of adult themes - unhappy marriage and the moral dilemma of whether a doctor's duty is worth heaping more suffering onto a life already full of pain. And Anne and Gilbert suffer such a heartbreak that changes their lives forever. Afterwards, "there was something in the smile that had never been in Anne's smile before and would never be absent from it again." This marks a turning-point in the tone of the series. Sorrow has touched upon a care-free, happy-go-lucky world. There can be no going back from that. The end of the book depicts Anne and Gilbert leaving their House of Dreams for a bigger house, better for raising a family in, but it happens so suddenly, in the space of a few pages, that neither the reader nor Anne is quite resigned to it. Although Anne will grow to love her new home, at the time of leaving the House of Dreams, and this volume, she hasn't yet done so, and I found it quite a melancholy note to end on.