Sunday, July 13, 2008

Anne's House of Dreams - Book Review

Anne's House of Dreams
By L.M.Montgomery
Originally Published 1917

Anne and Gilbert are finally married and move to Glen St Mary - some 60 miles from Avonlea. Gilbert's Great Uncle David has been a doctor there for a number of years, and he wishes to retire. He likes the idea of his great nephew taking over his practice.

They find a small house that becomes Anne's House of Dreams. This is their home for the first two years of their marriage. Further along the brook past their house is a large house where Mrs Leslie Moore lives.

Leslie's story is rather tragic. She was married at age 16 to a man named Dick Moore. Dick was not a nice man and eventually he left on a ship to sail the world and disappeared. A few years later he was found in Cuba totally clueless about his identity. It appears he met with an accident involving a head injury and was no longer right in the head. Leslie has spent the last 12 years looking after this baby because he was her husband.

There are two other characters we meet in this story. One is Miss Cornelia Bryant - the local gossip. The other is Captain Jim who runs the light house at Four Winds Point. Jim has many stories to tell about his life sailing the world, and now all he wants, before he dies, is for his story to be written down so he can be remembered.

The house that Anne and Gilbert are living in previously had 2 other brides. Several years ago it was the School masters house. The schoolmaster was named John Selwyn. His bride - Persis Leigh - was due to arrive at PEI by ship in mid-July, but the ship was overdue. It eventually arrived 8 weeks later in mid-September. John dreams that the ship sailed around East Point and that he will be with his bride the next day. And thats exactly what happened. [Which means Glen St Mary must be near the Eastern end of PEI, not the Western.] The ship had been delayed by a number of bad storms. John and Persis lived in the house for 15 years before they moved to Charlottetown. John and Captain Jim were very good friends. I mention all this because it relates to the story.

Shortly after Anne & Gilbert arrive, Anne becomes pregnant but gives birth to a still born daughter - Joyce. The following year Anne has a healthy son named James Matthew Blythe - to be known as Jem.

Leslie Moore takes in a boarder - a writer named Owen Ford. Owen is hired to write Captain Jim's life story. It turns out that Owen Ford is the School masters grandson. John & Persis Selwyn had a daughter named Alice. Alice Selwyn is Owen's mother. Captain Jim is delighted to discover this information. He had often wondered what happened to his good friends after they moved to Charlottetown.

Gilbert Blythe discovers a new method for restoring memory. He wonders if this operation can be performed on Dick Moore so that he can recover his memory. Anne thinks that things should be left well enough alone. Gilbert tells Leslie about this new operation and gives her the chance to accept it or not. She chooses to accept it. So Leslie and Dick travel to Montreal.

After the operation, Leslie calls him Dick and the next thing he says is, "I'm not Dick. He died of Yellow fever yesterday. I'm his cousin George". Dick and George Moore had always looked enough alike to be mistaken for each other, but noone had made this connection. So Leslie learns that she has been a widow for the last 12 years and is therefore finally free to marry again.

Gilbert's practice is thriving and after Jem is born, he starts looking for a bigger house. Eventually he settles for the old Morgan house that is somewhat closer to town. So Gilbert, Anne, Jem and their cook Susan all move to the larger Morgan house, which is eventually renamed Ingleside.

Leslie marries Owen Ford and they move into the old school masters house that used to be Anne's house of dreams.

This was a good story with a totally unexpected twist.

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