Rilla of Ingleside is the eighth book in the Anne of Green Gables series and focuses on the inspiring journey of Rilla Blythe, the youngest daughter of Anne and Gilbert, as she transforms from a carefree young girl into an enduring young woman swept into the chaos of war. Written from a female perspective, Montgomery accurately depicts a time in history, as she provides a contemporaneous account of the war and serves up the most emotional book in the series. Set during the First World War, the novel explores themes of coming of age, love, separation, and most importantly women’s roles during the war.
The novel begins with the introduction of 15-year-old girl Rilla, who appears as a spoilt, self-centered and immature young girl, preoccupied with adolescent strife as she excitedly prepares for her first grown-up party. However, the bliss of the party is interrupted when word reaches of the outbreak of war and throws the town into frenzy as the men talk about joining. Subsequently, Rilla’s brother Jem and his friend Jerry enlist and go to a training camp before leaving to join the front in France. Following a series of events, Rilla is left alone with her parents worrying about the fate of those fighting, which later include her brother Walter and her love interest Kenneth. As the war continues, the young girl slowly matures and turns her back on her past self-serving ways and instead embraces helping others and putting their needs above her own. Assisting the Junior Red Cross, helping a couple wed, and raising a war orphan are just some of the responsibilities Rilla takes up without protest. As the novel progresses, so does the young protagonist who courageously rises to each occasion with the hope of the safe return of loved ones.
A heart wrenching and inspirational sequel, Rilla of Ingleside offers a rare insight in the roles and hardships experienced by women during war as they were left to the mercy of uncertainty as each day passed. A story caught up in the shadow of war, the novel is an emotional journey of growth, loss, and sacrifice, but nevertheless a timeless piece of literature.
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