Anne of Windy Poplars, by L. M. Montgomery, is the fourth book in the Anne of Green Gables series. I have not read it as many times as the first three books, and it did not feel quite as familiar and comfortable on this reread. Anne is of course as delightful as ever, and the writing features Montgomery’s beautiful and sensitive descriptions. However, it has a somewhat different feel to it than the first three books. It takes place during the three years following Anne’s graduation from college, when she is a principal of a high school in a town on Prince Edward Island. She boards with two widows and their housekeeper, and meets many interesting people during those three years.
One thing that makes it different is that none of the other characters from the first three books are in this one, except in passing. Anne is the only familiar character and all the other ones are newly introduced in this book. I found that a bit disappointing, because the characters provide a nice continuity in the first three books (although in the third one, Anne of the Island, there is already less about the original Avonlea folks). Also, Anne of Windy Poplars is very episodic. Now, all of the Anne books are fairly episodic, but this one feels particularly so. Many characters are introduced for a single episode and then do not appear again. Another difference is that much of the story is told through letters Anne writes to Gilbert, her fiance; although Anne’s voice is delightful, it is different in narration style from Montgomery’s usual third person.
One of the most delightful aspects of Anne of Windy Poplars is her befriending of the little girl living next door, who is being raised by her grandmother and is emotionally neglected. She and Anne are true kindred spirits and the descriptions of their relationship and interactions and the way in which Anne gives her a bit of love are beautiful.
Interestingly, according to the wiki page for Anne of Windy Poplars: “Chronologically, this book is fourth in the series, but it was the seventh book written.” Indeed, it was published in 1936, while the fifth book, Anne’s House of Dreams, was published in 1917. The sixth, Anne of Ingleside, was again written much later, in 1939, while the seventh and eighth (Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside) were written in 1919 and 1921. It should be interesting to see if the fifth, seventh, and eighth books feel more like the first three than Anne of Windy Poplars did.