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Warning: the review below contains a considerable amount of spoilers, even though I do try to leave the reader with some suspense. Proceed with caution.

Anne's House of Dreams is the fifth book in the series Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. In this book, Anne finally married Gilbert, now a doctor, and they spent the first two years of their marriage in a little house in Four Winds Harbor, 60 miles from Green Gables. The house, called by Anne as their "House of Dreams", was rather small and isolated, but the new couple had many sweet and some sad moments there, with the birth of two children, the first one dead soon after birth. Their few neighbors, such as the retired sailor Captain Jim, capable old maid Miss Cornelia (who latter married), and an unfortunate woman named Leslie Moore, became their lifelong friends in time. Oh, and don't leave out the housemaid Susan.

Compared with other books in the series, this one is sweeter than many of the rest (except maybe Rainbow Valley), and it has a relatively tightly-knit plot, in contrast to many others that mainly consist of a large number of "odds and ends", so you may well like it even if you find some other books in the series boring, although the other books also have their merits.

The novel started with Anne's wedding in Green Gables, where many familiar faces were revisited, such as Marilla, Mrs. Lynde, Davy and Dora (not little children anymore), Diana, Jane, Phil, the Echo Lodge people (including Anne's favorite student Paul), and Mr. Allan. The people at Patty's Place sent the china dogs Gog and Magog there to Anne as a wedding present, which presided over in Anne's family throughout the rest of the series. After the wedding they drove to their house of dreams and soon met all the neighbors mentioned above. Gilbert began his doctor practice there, and soon became a very popular and busy one, while Anne stayed home as a full-time housewife and a dear friend of their neighbors. Their marriage went on exceedingly well; they hardly ever quarreled during the whole two years. Time passed quickly with many lovely and hilarious moments between Anne, Gilbert, Susan and the neighbors, and a year later Anne had her first-born Joyce. Unfortunately (well, maybe without that Anne's life will be a bit too perfect), the "wee lady", whom everyone had looked forward to, and who almost costed Anne's own life, proved to be too weak to live. This disaster gave Anne much pain (arguably the most painful event during her life till then), but it also helped her mature, and another year later the "stork" brought a healthy boy to her, named James Matthew Blythe, or "Jem" in short, after Captain Jim and Matthew. The neighbors' lives also changed considerably during that time: Captain Jim happily saw his "life book" in print, and died peacefully after finishing reading it, at the advanced age of 78; Miss Cornelia married Mr. Marshall Elliott, whom she had long decided to marry but postponed the marriage due to some of his hilarious stubbornness in politics; and Leslie Moore faced a totally unexpected turn of fate, happily married the man she truly loved, and had a whole new life before her. However, as Anne's happiness overflowed, so was her beloved house of dreams, therefore she had to move to a new larger house named "Ingleside" in Glen St. Mary nearby, bought cheaply by Gilbert. Anne shed many tears for parting with her little house of dreams, but the farewell had to be said, after all.

Besides the ever-so-imaginative Anne and the busy doctor Gilbert, the number of people appearing in this novel is relatively few: Susan, Leslie, Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia and Owen Ford (who married Leslie at the end), so the personality of every one of them is quite well-developed. Susan seems to be an ordinary 40-year-old housemaid in this book; her personality will be more fully portrayed in the following books. Miss Cornelia was a middle-aged old maid, with a kind heart, a capable hand, a sharp tongue and a great interest in gossip, much like Mrs. Rachel Lynde back in Avonlea. She had a habitual prejudice against men and Methodists (herself and most of the people here are Presbyterians), constantly using phrases like "just like a man" and "man-like", so it always seemed a bit ironic when she decided to marry a man at the end. Captain Jim was a retired sailor, now working in the lighthouse on Four Winds Harbor. With a whole life of adventures behind him, he was as frank and sincere as a child, and could tell wonderful tales about his voyages and the beautiful history of the "house of dreams"; he was not a rough man --- he had an excellent temper and held much respect for women, even though his grammer was far from perfect; he had a lover in her youth, "lost Margaret", who was too early lost in the sea forever, and he had kept being a bachelor for her ever since. These qualities made him immensely popular among his neighbors, not only Anne, but even the man-hater Miss Cornelia.

However, none of the people above concerned Anne as much as Leslie, who was a 28-year-old women with rare beauty but a very unfortunate past, in which she lost her beloved grandmother, brother and father during her poor but originally happy childhood, had to marry at the age of 16 against her wish because of poverty, and her husband Dick Moore turned out to be an extremely unscrupulous man; he soon left her for a voyage, but returned with intelligence and memory lost due to brain injury with unknown cause, so Leslie actually had to take care of him and earn both's bread, with no apparent hope before her. For a long time after Anne's arrival, Leslie struggled between her love and her hostile envy to Anne, until Anne's own sorrow helped her to conquer her envy. Later, she fell in love with her summer boarder, journalist Owen Ford, who wrote Captain Jim's "life-book" during the summer; but since she was not free, both had to bear the bitterness of the impossible love. Gilbert later suggested giving Dick Moore an operation which might have him regain memory and intelligence; even though the cost was high, and even though the unscrupulous Dick might change from a mere burden back into a nightmare for her if he regained intelligence, Leslie decided to proceed. Maybe God wanted to reward her kindness, the operation had a totally unexpected result, so Leslie finally got her share of happiness at last, with no misgivings to mar it.

A notable change in this novel was the availability of telephones, which caused some significant changes to the lifestyle of people both in Avonlea and in Four Winds. Even though switches were scarce then (which means a whole village usually shared a line), it is sort of amazing how fast telephones became an almost indispensible part of life, especially for the doctor who would probably be unable to practice when living in such a remote place without those.

Overall, I find the novel a perfectly lovely and sweet one, which makes it one of the best in the series. My only gripe is why did Anne become a full-time housewife, when she had only a small house and few children to look after then, Susan to help with the housework, and her B.A. degree and literary talents lying around? Well, old novels are bound to be aged in some aspects, after all, and anyway L.M. Montgomery was not as much of a feminist as my another favorite author, Louisa May Alcott.

This book is available in Project Gutenberg, #544.

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