Rilla of Ingleside
by L.M. Montgomery
Originally published 1921
Anne and Gilbert have now been married for 24 years. Jem is 22, Walter 21, Nan & Diana 19, Shirley 17 and Rilla is 15. The year is 1914, and we all know what happened in 1914. The Archduke of Austria is shot and killed in Sarajevo and war breaks out.
This war is later known as the Great War (but we know it as World War One). Fortunately it did not encompass the entire planet. It was confined mainly to Europe, although soldiers from many parts of the British empire did travel to Europe to fight.
At the beginning of the war, Jem and Walter sign up and head off to Nova Scotia to do their basic training and then they are sent to England. From there, they are sent to the Front lines. Newspapers, radio and letters give details of the major battles.
Rilla starts a junior Red Cross group, and finds a baby with no parents. The mother died in childbirth and the father had signed up and was in the army. So Rilla brings the baby home to Ingleside in a Soup Tureen. (there being no cradle or basket available). Rilla's father tells her that she must be responsble enougfh to look after the baby if she wants to keep it, or she can give the baby to the local orphanage. Rilla decides to raise the baby and names it "James Kitchener Anderson" but everyone calls him Jims.
Walter is killed in the war. Shirley turns 18 and signs up for the newly created airforce. He and Jem do come home safely from the war. And Rilla's sweetheart Kenneth Ford (son of Owen Ford and Leslie Moore from Anne's House of Dreams) also comes home from the war safely and finally proposes to Rilla on the last page of the book.
I remember reading a comment on a book forum somewhere where the thread is talking about the very successful Sullivan TV miniseries starring Megan Follows (1985 & 1987). The third series was about Anne Shirley following Gilbert to Europe during World War One. Their comment was - But...But That's Rilla's war.
I rather liked that 3rd series, but the reality of the books is that it should have been Rilla's war. Anne was just turning 50 at this time. In the third Tv series Anne was still in her 20's.
I liked this book. The only reason it took me longer than usual to read it, is because I needed a break from Anne Shirley (after reading 3 books in a row) and also having to deal with going back to school as well.