For those who are unfamiliar with my previous reviews of books 1-3 in the Anne of Green Gables series, here are the basics:
Book 1 – 5 stars (such a wonderful book)
Book 2 – 3 stars (well written, but unnecessary)
Book 3 – 4 stars (great book, but not up to book 1’s standard)
Anne of Windy Poplars (book 4) turned out to be similar to book 2 in that it didn’t feel necessary. And, if you know about when each book was written, you’ll understand that it actually wasn’t necessary.
Books 4 & 6 weren’t part of the series until about 15 years after book 8 was published. L.M. Montgomery wrote books 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 in a span of 13 years, and she wrote books 4 and 6 much later (15 and 18 years later respectively).
Anne of Windy Poplars covers the 3-year period between books 3 and 5 while Gilbert is away at medical school and Anne is Principal of Summerside High School.
For almost the entire book, Anne is the only character from the previous 3 books that appears in this installment. There is a very brief return to Avonlea where we hear mention of several characters we’re familiar with. But the rest of the book is Anne + a bunch of new people.
Also, a large portion of the book is purely extracts from letters Anne has written to Gilbert during the 3 years. Those letters are really the only parts we hear him even mentioned.
Even though I loved book 1, and I really am enjoying the series as a whole, I’m beginning to notice a pattern. It’s almost like Montgomery is following the same template with these sequels. We’re introduced to a child who is pretty much a copy of Anne as a child, there are star-crossed lovers who would never end up together if it weren’t for Anne’s involvement, and – despite the fact that people keep making snide remarks about her red hair – she has no problem getting men to fall for her (not that she’s trying).
Oh, and there are plenty of references to her attractive nose. She’s apparently got a great nose.
It’s another well-written book, and I’m constantly impressed with how well Montgomery knows her characters (especially Anne). However, book 4 is pretty much just a chance for those who love Anne to hear more about her life. Montgomery could have written any number of books simply writing about Anne’s life. The problem with that, however, is that not every story is worth telling.
Nothing really happened in books 2 and 4 that had a large effect on the series as a whole. In book 1 we’re introduced to Anne, and we get to know her as a person. In book 3 Anne earns her BA, and she realizes she loves Gilbert.
But, despite all Anne’s adventures, books 2 and 4 don’t really contribute much (other than, as I mentioned before, offering readers more content about Anne).