Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery

Anne of Windy Poplars (1936) is Book #4 in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables Series.

Please be sure to read my reviews of Anne of Green Gables (Book #1), Anne of Avonlea (Book #2), and Anne of the Island (Book #3) first!

Book #3 left off with Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe finally getting engaged. It was so moving that Anne couldn’t even say anything; she was moved to speechlessness (how weird for Anne!). Book #4 begins with… Anne and Gilbert totally separate. Book #4 covers the three years that Anne lives in Summerside, about 100 miles from Green Gables. She is the principle at High (basically, the head teacher with students in the upper levels, not children; she isn’t a bureaucrat like high school principles today). Summerside is practically run by the Pringle family, who are so connected and wealthy that what they want goes… until a Pringle cousin is not chosen as principle, Anne is. And the Pringles try to make Anne’s life a living hell in order to run her off. But you know Anne! During these three years, she boards in a house called Windy Poplars (interesting how Montgomery’s titles always reflect Anne’s geographical home).

windy poplars

An important note: there were 21 years between Books #3 and #4 being published. Why? Anne and Gilbert just got engaged, so isn’t a wedding the next natural step? Gilbert says he has to do medical school for three years first, and Anne agrees to wait. I get the feeling L.M.M. chose to have Gilbert be gone a long time to be done with Anne Shirley. I’ll bet she was thinking, Can’t the engagement be the happy ending these darn readers want??

According to The L.M. Montgomery Reader Volume 1: A Life in Print, L.M.M. did not want to keep writing about Anne Shirley. In a letter she admitted, “I’m awfully afraid if this thing takes, they’ll want me to write her through college.” L.M.M. admits that Book #2 was the publishers idea, not hers. So, I review Anne of Windy Poplars knowing it wasn’t in L.M.M.’s heart to write it — and I think that shows in positive and disappointing ways:

First, there is no Gilbert. Much of the novel is epistolary. All letters are to Gilbert, none are from. Oh, he sends them, but the narrator’s not sharing! Anne get so excited about summer and Christmas breaks so she can see Gilbert, but the story will literally go from “hooray, summer break is next week!” to “Anne is back in Summerside for year two.” L.M.M. teased us! Retribution for being greedy readers, perhaps? Gilbert literally doesn’t show until page 154, and that’s to say he has a bit of a mustache now. No dialogue, no scene between our lovers, zip.

Second, L.M.M. will not write about what Anne’s doing in her career. In Book #2 there were few scenes in the classroom, and in Book #4 there are even fewer. Why must the whole novel be about town gossip? Why can’t we know more about Anne’s students, her lessons, the daily tribulations of being a school teacher? Avoiding the whole reason Anne lives at Windy Poplars makes Book #4 seem like a repeat of Book #2. As a result, I spaced out a few times and had to backtrack my eyes on the page.

Third, Anne doesn’t seem to be learning from her mistakes, like she promised us in Book #1. She’s as vain as ever, she’s judgmental about other’s looks, and she is still meddling in people’s romances! Much of the book is Anne playing matchmaker, sometimes for characters to whom we’re not even introduced. The same thing happened in Book #3 when Anne kept mentioning Ludovic Speed and Theodora Dix (turns out their story was told in The Chronicles of Avonlea, a short story collection published in 1912. If you want to be a truly well-read Anne fan, you need to read alllll the books by L.M.M. — there are 11).


Be sure to note publication dates! These eight books were not published in the order in which they are now read/packaged. We read them chronologically, but the 1st publication dates are different. Also, the books below were published at varying times before all 8 books above were written. For instance, L.M.M. mentions a couple in Book #3 several times, but readers meet the couple in Chronicles of Avonlea. Read HERE for more information.

chronicles of avonleafurther chroniclesblythes

Lastly in my list of evidence that L.M.M. had almost no heart in this book is the introduction of several new and highly unrealistic children: “Little Fellow,” Elizabeth, and Hazel (though she is 18 and not child-child). All three are horribly flowery with language, ideas, and dreams. And I hated all three; they were worse than Paul Irving from Book #2. The devil twins, Gerald and Geraldine, certainly made up for it, though! Leading me to….

The main way tricky L.M.M. made this not reeaaallly an Anne book. What you get are a bunch of short stories that all have Anne in them. You could replace Anne with anyone. While it’s disappointing in the chronicles of Anne, readers pushed her into it. However, my favorite thing about L.M.M. is her characters. I especially love the “rural folk” L.M.M. drops in. I can tell she’s making fun of them; they’re uneducated, they use the wrong words, and they’re truly misinformed about how pretty much anything works because they’re so busy being nosy. But they’re colorful, amusing, and likable. It’s Anne who’s annoying with her meddling!

The following are all characters who drop in and are never heard from again (thus my argument that Book #4 is a series of short stories):

When Anne visits the Summerside graveyard, she runs into Miss Valentine, a woman knows all of the dead buried there, for its all the “old families” of Summerside, including hers. She gives the tour:

“This is Mrs. Dan Pringle . . . I’ve heard that dying was the only thing she ever dared do without asking her husband. Do you know, my dear, what he did once when she bought a hat he didn’t like?”

“I can’t imagine.”

“He et it,” said Miss Valentine solemnly.

In a different scene, Anne is invited to dine with the Taylor family. Esme Taylor wants desperately to marry Dr. Carter from Redmond college, but Esme’s father throws terrible tantrums during which he is silent. Dr. Carter will never propose if her father’s behavior suggests they are a bad family. Since the dinner is so awkward, and Mrs. Taylor and the children are all nearly crying over Mr. Taylor’s silence, Anne says, “Perhaps you would be surprised to hear, Dr. Carter, that Mr. Taylor went deaf very suddenly last week?” It isn’t a lie; she’s only asking if Dr. Carter would be surprised to hear such a thing! Mr. Taylor’s daughter Trix Taylor and son, Pringle Taylor, begin asking horrible questions, implying their father is a beast, such as, “What would you think of a man who let his aunt . . . his only aunt . . . go to the poorhouse?” The two are relentless.

Esme Taylor, the daughter trying to get a proposal from Dr. Carter, finally speaks up:

“What,” she asked quietly, “would you think of a man who spent a whole day hunting for the kittens of a poor cat who had been shot, because he couldn’t bear to think of them starving to death?”

The Taylor family then feels terrible, so Mrs. Taylor tries to help by adding:

“And he can crochet so beautifully . . . he made the loveliest centerpeice for the parlor table last winter when he was laid up with lumbago.”

Woops! It’s 1888, folks, and you can’t admit your husband crocheted! Mr. Taylor finally explodes! It’s so funny! He defends himself: “I don’t crochet, woman! Is one centerpiece doily going to blast a man’s reputation forever?” And there you have it; an entire scene that could survive without Anne Shirley, had any other character suggested Mr. Taylor was deaf.

We’re introduced in another scene to Pauline Gibson and her mother, a tyrant of a woman who must be persuaded to let Pauline (a grown woman) go to her cousin Louisa’s wedding. Mrs. Gibson reminds Pauline:

“I’m sending  Louisa a bottle of my sarsaparilla wine to drink the toasts in. I never cared for Louisa, but her mother was a Tackaberry. Mind you bring back the bottle and don’t let her give you a kitten. Louisa’s always giving people kittens.”

Another scene takes place when Anne is the bridesmaid for Sally Nelson. Poor Sally’s sister Nora is worried she’ll never get married and admits to Anne that she had a beau across the lake whom she loves, but they had a huge fight. Nora says she used to signal him with a lantern and he would come running over. What does Anne do? Signal with the lantern — but she forgets the lantern in the window. At 2:00AM, a meddling relative dubbed “Aunt Mouser” hears a noise in the house and wakes everyone:

They crept cautiously down the stairs with the Doctor at the head and Aunt Mouser, candle in one hand and poker in the other, bringing up the rear. . . .

Nora and a young man were standing in the middle of the room, which was dimly lighted by another flickering candle. The young man had arm his around Nora and was holding a large white handkerchief to her face.

“He’s chloroforming her!” shrieked Aunt Mouser, letting the poker fall with a tremendous crash.

The young man didn’t see the signal until 1:00AM and came over as quickly as possible, thinking there was trouble. When Nora saw a man coming to the house, she ran — into a door, giving herself a bloody nose. Again, this whole scene could exist without Anne, assuming anyone else put the lantern in the window.

Truth be told, Anne’s interference in ever scene felt very un-Anne-like. L.M.M. uses the titular character sparingly, and instead gives readers a short story collection that will leave them frustrated. On a positive note, I bought two new L.M.M. novels and two new short story collections as a result! She’s a great writer, just tired of Anne Shirley.



This book was read as part of Cathy 746’s challenge to read 20 books between June 1st and September 5th.


  1. Well, now I have to know which ones you bought?!
    I completely agree with you here that this is mostly just a collection of amusing short stories with Anne at the center. But, they *are* very amusing. I loved the story of the man who has temper tantrums, though I did feel very sorry for his wife.
    One character from this book that she includes in her future books is Rebecca Dew. She and Anne’s future housekeeper become pen-pals, which is fun.
    I do think the fact that Anne and Gilbert are waiting to get married is rather progressive for 100 years ago, which I thought was a good thing. But it was disappointing not to have him in the book. It would have been nice to hear about some of what he was studying.

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    • Oh, in so glad Rebecca Dew comes back! She was funny, and the ending was so sad. I knew that Anne and Gilbert waiting was unusual because of their ages: she 25, he 27. Also, Anne’s level of education plays a role, which is nice! I really did enjoy the stories in this book, but because Anne and Gilbert were at the center of it, I felt my expectations unfulfilled. Do you think LMM was being tricky and writing what she wanted but calling it an Anne book? I bought The Blue Castle and A Tangled Web (LMM’s two adult novels) and two corrections, At the Alter and Among the Shadows. She has several theme collections, which is nice for readers! Did you ever read The Blythes Are Quoted, which was finally published in 2009?

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      • Ooh, good choices! Although, I would probably say that about any of her books. Just to warn you, though, it might be in A Tangled Web where she writes something disturbingly racial – near the end of the book. Unless they’ve altered it by now. My copy still has it, obviously (all my copies are from about 30 years ago).
        I haven’t read The Blythes Are Quoted, but I have read The Road to Yesterday, which is the original version of that book, but was shortened. It’s been a long time since I read it, so I can’t even remember anything about it.
        Interestingly, in my big book about LMM, it says that it was LMM’s new agent that suggested she write a new Anne book to piggyback off of the 1934 talking movie of Anne of GG. LMM had (stupidly and naively) sold the rights to Anne to her first agent, and was receiving no compensation for the sales of the other Anne books or the movie. So, that’s why she went back and wrote Anne of Windy Poplars, filling in the gap of those 3 years of Gilbert’s med school. And, it says she wrote it quickly, because she was in need of the money. Kind of sad, really, that she made that mistake. Also, the character Katherine is based on a real person in LMM’s life at the time.
        (I love my big Mary Henley Rubio book – you might want to consider getting that one, too!)

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s some great insight! Thanks, Naomi! I’ll see if the library has that book. I think I’m going to write more about attitude differences in the next review. My husband and I talked through a lot yesterday, and I can’t to some (I hope) satisfactory conclusions. If LMM wrote Windy Poplars just for money, I’m glad she did it. Women need to support themselves financially, today and in LMM’s time, because you never know what will cause a woman to become destitute, but what happens after is a sad, familiar story.

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          • It’s called The Gift of Wings by Mary Henley Rubio. I bought mine a little over a year ago, but have only managed to read a quarter of it so far. It’s very detailed, but very good. I just keep getting distracted by all the other books!

            Liked by 1 person

          • I’m so glad Naomi asked straight away which ones you bought: I needed to know too! Also, I second her recommendation of The Gift of Wings. It’s wonderfully detailed. Also Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston worked together for decades to prepare LMM’s diaries for publication, so they are terrific when it comes to LMM. Waterston’s The Magic Island considers each of LMM’s books in a chapter and offers wonderful insight to the process behind their creation and the author’s experiences alongside. Enjoy your summer with Anne!

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  2. Hahaha. I definitely cannot imagine Anne being tongue tied. Would you believe I didn’t know this was a series till earlier this year? Can’t wait to read all the books.

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  3. Agreed – not one of the better ones. In fact, I barely remembered it till you reminded me, suggesting it didn’t get re-read as often as some of the others. I hope you’ll enjoy Anne’s House of Dreams more, but in truth I think LMM was right in that the books should have stopped at the engagement, or possibly even at the end of the first book. Anne works as a child and youthful dreamy girl/woman, but I found her less believable, less endearing as an adult. The Chronicles of Avonlea is well worth getting a hold of – some really good stories in there…

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  4. I think one of your other blogging friends alluded to it, but Windy Poplars (and Anne of Ingleside) were written after the other books. So although Windy Poplars fits after Island in chronological order, it was actually written years after House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla (like 10 or 15 years after Rilla, I think.) I think that may be part of the reason that it doesn’t “flow” in the series quite as well. House of Dreams is where I think LMM would have been happy to end her series – Anne and Gilbert married and content and starting a family together. Rainbow Valley and Rilla reflect that – Anne is a background character in those books; they are about the next generation. Windy Poplars and Ingleside go back and fill in time periods in Anne’s life. (Incidentally, Ingleside is where we run into Rebecca Dew again.)

    I am completely unable to think of these books objectively because I loved them SO MUCH when I read them as a girl, and have read the whole series probably 25 times since then, so I’m not super good at taking a step back from them!! 🙂

    Blue Castle is possibly my favorite LMM book. Tangled Web is a little darker than some of her other books – it’s not necessarily just happy endings all around, you know?

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re giving these a whirl. They are some of my favorites!


    • Thanks for coming over, Sarah! Yes, another blogger pointed out that the books aren’t in true order, so I added a little note under the pictures of the covers. But seriously–why not focus on the school?? There is so much scope for the imaginative in a school!!


  5. I got my 13yo granddaughter to read your review of AoGG but couldn’t get her to comment. She says she has read right through the series to where Anne’s kids are growing up, so there you go, LMM is still engaging modern yoof.

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  6. Oh dear. You certainly haven’t enticed me to pick this book up anytime soon!! Ha ha – I was laughing throughout your review. I almost didn’t read it, because I didn’t want anything in Windy Poplars to be spoiled, but I’m glad I read your review. That scene with Mr Taylor sounds very funny.
    Darn that Gilbert isn’t in the book all that much. This entry in the series sounds half-hearted, and like you said, like LM Montgomery didn’t want to write about Anne any longer.
    Wonder if the rest of the series is like this one.

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  7. It’s the only one of the Anne books that I’ve only read once–I didn’t like it that much, partly because the language is so very flowery in places, and partly because there’s no Gilbert. I do like the later books, after she gets married; I think LM Montgomery hits her stride again with those.

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  8. The Anne books are such a staple of North American children’s lit, but I only really noticed them and then picked them up a few years ago, when other book bloggers insisted I HAD to read them 🙂 I think I read the first 5 or 6 books and they really were such a joy! Too bad this isn’t really an Anne book, so won’t pick it up probably, but it looks like I also missed other books in the series!

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    • I didn’t know about the three extra outside of the box set, myself. I actually think you could skip Windy Poplars and not miss anything, unless a character comes back again in a later book. Some people mention the housekeeper comes back, but really she’s a funny lady without any history you need to remember.

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  9. Interesting insights! I read the series last year and loved them all. I guess these issues didn’t concern me–I just enjoyed the writing. Love LMM’s writing! But I enjoy the “flowery” stuff, too, so what worked for me didn’t seem to work for you. Sounds as if you’re enjoying the next one! Good!

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  10. I’d definitely abandoned the series by this point! None of this sounds familiar. Such a shame that L. M. M. was pressured to keep going and couldn’t just get on with writing about other characters. It seems to happen a lot. One of my favourite series from when I was a kid is John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ series, which is about a group of teenagers trying to survive after Australia is invaded and occupied by a foreign army. I finished reading them when I was around 12, then when I was in high school, Marsden released the Ellie Chronicles, which is a second series with the same protagonist, but set after the war. I think they were quite well-received, but I’ve never been able to read them. It just feels like the story is already done. Same goes for the new Harry Potter. I can’t do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And the new HP isn’t even a novel or written by Rowling! I am interested in how LMM’s books were received when they were published. As I mentioned in my review, the order in which we read them now are not the order in which they were published.


  11. I didn’t realize this book was published so much later! That makes sense as to why it doesn’t really feel like the first three novels. And amen to wanting more of Anne in the classroom! We really don’t get much. That would be more interesting to me as well! Thanks for linking up to our #AnneReadAlong2017 !

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