Rainbow Valley by LM Montgomery

Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery

(Book #7) of the Anne of Green Gables Series

Be sure to read my reviews for the previous six books. Links to reviews are all at the bottom of this page in my #20BooksofSummer challenge list!

It’s gotta be a conspiracy, ya’ll! The odd number Anne books are delightful, plot-driven, and full of memorable characters. All the even numbers (ew) are a let down and read more like short stories set in the same place with the same people that…well, don’t really go together. Hooray for Rainbow Valley being on an odd number!

Rainbow Valley isn’t about Anne at all. In fact, it’s barely about her family. While that may sound disappointing to Real Anne Fans, I was happy to get a bit of space from the Judgey McJudger that has become Anne (she rates her children on beauty).

There is a place in the woods near Ingleside (the Blythe family home) that has a little brook and is covered is moss. Two trees’ branches intertwine, like lovers. The children hang bells in those trees and play all sorts of games. Though it was once called the Hollow, little Rilla saw a rainbow shoot across the sky that landed in the Hollow and exclaimed it beautiful. Thus, the Hollow is re-dubbed Rainbow Valley.

Rainbow Valley

That’s our setting; who are the characters? Mainly, they are the Meredith children. Mr. Meredith is the new preacher for the Presbyterian church in Glen St. Mary. He’s a widower with four children. Being a bigger space-head dreamer than any character before, Mr. Meredith unintentionally neglects his children. The only one who “cares” for them is Aunt Martha, who is old, deaf, a terrible cook, and sickly. Mr. Meredith saved her from the poor house, so he fears that getting an actual live-in maid would hurt his old aunt’s feelings. Who cares if the kids starve and look ragged, right?

Everyone cares. Not only do the church members think the children are hooligans, they judge the cat:

“A manse cat should at least look respectable, in my opinion, whatever he really is. But I never saw such a rakish-looking beast. And he walks along the ridgepole of the manse almost every evening at sunset, Mrs. Dr. dear, and waves his tail, and that is not becoming.”

If a cat swishing its tail is going to lead to criticism, the minister’s children have no hope. They have few clothes, sometimes no shoes, are apt to laugh when they shouldn’t, and really have no one raising them.

There are two things that really make this book a pleasure to read: the characters and the sustained plot. The main characters are the Meredith children. Jerry, 12, is the oldest. He’s not so much a guide to his younger siblings as we typically see. They simply like having him around. Faith is 11. She takes up the spotlight because she is so unlike any other LMM character in the Green Gables series. Faith is a tomboy, has a pet rooster, and comes up with plans to fix things and take responsibility for her actions. Some might say Faith has balls. Una is 10 and she’s “not pretty, but sweet.” Yes, there is a lot of that in Rainbow Valley, though not as much as Book #6. Una is a thinker, and she constantly considers the feelings of others. Carl is 9, and he’s also unlike any other. He loves bugs and creatures, so he always has something crawling on him or digging around in his pocket, even in church, which is a hoot. He doesn’t say much, but he adds to each scene with his presence.

While these are good Christian children, they are scrutinized fiercely. The manse is attached to a Methodist graveyard, so the children play there frequently, which the Presbyterians feel makes them look sinful to the Methodists. While gossip drives me nuts, the things people catch the Meredith children doing is often funny or sad, so either way I felt for them and wanted to help them.

The story then introduces Mary Vance. She was taken in by a woman who nearly worked her to death and beat her constantly. The Meredith children find Mary sleeping in a barn and take her in. Their father is so oblivious that Mary Vance lives with the Merediths for two weeks, but he doesn’t notice. Mary’s both annoying and wonderful. She’s such a heathen that she sticks out as a blemish in LMM’s perfect world. The Meredith children try to school Mary on hell, but she doesn’t know what it is. She explains:

“Mr. Wiley used to mention hell when he was alive. He was always telling folks to go there. I thought it was some place over in New Brunswick where he come from.”

I hate to laugh because Mary knows almost nothing, but she does insert humor into the story. She almost died of “pewmonia,” for instance. After she’s permanently homed and dolled up with nice things, she has access to gossip from grown women. Mary runs to tell the Meredith children what she’s heard. While eyeing Mary’s nice new clothes, the Merediths eye their holey socks and old, thin outfits and feel regret for helping her. And Mary’s news always upsets their world; she may tell her friends that their father is going to be let go because they’ve behaved badly and caused a member of the church who donates a hefty sum to his salary to quit attending.

Mary certainly helps the plot move along. The children respond to her news by taking action. Notably, Faith speaks to members of the church whom the Meredith children have rubbed the wrong way. Hilarity ensues, but you also admire her bravery when handling grown-up situations. There’s also a sense of sadness; it’s heartbreaking to watch her take responsibility for the children to make sure everyone knows their father had nothing to do with their behavior. She’s a tween and has no rightful business fixing adult lives, but she has to.

The plot of Rainbow Valley moves forward (THANK YOU, LMM) instead of skipping from one unrelated scene to the next. It starts with meeting the Merediths and Mary Vance. The Meredith children play with the Blythe children in Rainbow Valley. We don’t learn much about the Blythes. (Where is Shirley??? Did he die? Did Anne hallucinate him? He is in zero scenes in Books #6 and #7!). Let’s face it: the Meredith children are 100% more interesting that the Blythe youth. Then, the plot moves to the Presbyterian women of Glen St. Mary trying to hook Mr. Meredith up with someone to take care of his kids and stop embarrassing the Presbyterians, who fear the Methodists are laughing at them. A romance ensues, and there is a sort of Taming of the Shrew plot that added pathos to a few story threads. Though the romance is predictable, it’s nice to have a story work out the way you want it to.



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


  1. ‘Wild’ children are almost always more fun to read about than well-behaved ones. I really loved that speech Faith gave to the church. And it’s crazy how bad all the church gossip is. (But funny, too.)
    I also noticed Shirley’s absence – I always thought of him as the boring one. He’s in the next one, though. (You’ve probably already noticed!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t started reading Rilla yet. Honestly, in Anne of Ingleside, we know Shirley is born and that Anne almost died. In Rainbow Valley, we learn that Susan thinks Shirley is just as much her child as “Mrs. Dr. dear’s.” I mean, Susan actually TELLS Anne that. I would have fired her for getting too presumptuous, but I know that as a live-in caretaker in that time period, she really is like a third parent. But other than Susan not allowing Gilbert to spank Shirley, that’s all he’s mentioned in Rainbow Valley.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You enjoyed this one far more than I did, but perhaps as much out of relief (for it not being an even-numbered installment and not-so-episodic) as for its own self? *grins* Even though I’d abandoned the later Anne books when I was younger (after all the love talk in Anne of Windy Populars, which is a volume I did love, because of my affection for epistolary novels more than for the stories in it) I think as a girl I would have liked all the kids in this one (and maybe Ingleside too, for that matter). Only one more left for you to read!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, just one more! One thing I noticed about the letters in Windy Poplars is that they start like a letter, but pretty much read like an LMM book, in my opinion. I mean, the first letter Anne writes is 20 pages in the book. Poor Gilbert, I kept thinking 🙂

      I think that LMM is a fantastic weaver of stories, but it I’m reading a novel, I want it to move forward. That’s about the long and short of it! I bought two short story collections from her that I’m excited to read. When she gets into short story mode in the Anne books, I like those scenes and characters, but get frustrated that they don’t all go together like they’re meant to.

      I sent you a message on Google+ but I not realize you maybe didn’t get it. I noticed that you have a wordpress site, but in order for all readers to leave a comment, they have to sign in and follow via email, which is a bit of a challenge (especially since I have to subscribe to each comment thread for each post and then answer emails in order to respond to your posts). Have you considered changing it to a basic comment section like other wordpress blogs?


      • At the age that I was reading AoWP, I was writing letters that long to my girlfriends, so I woudln’t’ve thought anything of that, but now I can see where this kind of volume could annoy those who aren’t inclined towards epistolary novels to start with! Heheh Rilla’s story does have that sense of momentum: I think you’ll enjoy the resolution of the series!

        Oh, right: thanks for reminding me about your “comments” question. I don’t exactly know what you mean, because I input this information frequently when I’m visiting blogs (but, you’re quite right: not on your blog). It seems like status quo to me.

        When I checked my admin panel I see an option which requires that users log in (which I don’t have enabled) but nothing which gives a specific option for other WorkPress bloggers. to save the trouble of inputting email/site/name. I’m willing to consider anything that makes the process easier for readers, unless it increases the likelihood of bot-style spam commenting. And I do understand how sometimes details like this can be very annoying (a couple of sites which I quite like only use Disqus which, for some reason, I can’t login to properly, so I don’t ever say anything there)! Thanks for asking.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hmmm, I looked around on WordPress and all I can think of is maybe you added a widget for comments. If you don’t have a widget, it should just be a regular comment option, like I and other WordPress bloggers have.


            • Maybe it is theme related. I think if you change the appearance you can add a widget for comments and put it at the bottom of posts. That might be what you have. Go to “My Site” and then to the bottom to “WP Admin” and then choose “Appearance” and then choose “Widgets.” See if you have anything to do with comments added.


          • I’m not sure, but I’ll be changing my theme in September, so maybe the problem will (as occasionally happens with technicalities) resolve itself!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I don’t know if you’ve convinced me to try it, though I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m afraid I’m one of these boring adults who has pretty much lost touch with my inner child – I very rarely read children’s books these days and it’s even rarer for me to actually enjoy them. I can happily re-read ones I already love, though. It is odd that Anne got so annoying in her middle-age – and a bit worrying for those of us who saw her as a role model. I would never judge my cats on which was prettier (though it would be Tommy, if I did… 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This one sounds like so much fun! (The plot reminds me just a little of Seven Little Australians, mostly because they’re both about a bunch of mischievous siblings and their adventures). I wish I’d read this as a kid!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You make the later books sounds like so much fun! (well the odd numbes, I’ll have to watch out for that!) The children sound fun, especially Mary! Also, wow kudos on sticking to your summer reading list, you’re almost done!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this review! You really nailed all the things I love about Rainbow Valley. I wonder if I hadn’t been in a reading slump, or I hadn’t been behind in this reading adventure, if I would have appreciated this book a bit more? Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE the characters and the plot– I was just waiting for something to happen in this book which never did. And that definitely ruined my enjoyment. I bet a re-read would be much better.

    Do you have a favorite character from this book? For me, it’s a toss-up between Faith and Una. Also– you are SO RIGHT. Where the heck is Shirley?! I didn’t even notice he was missing… for either book. Oops! that just goes to show how much we are introduced (or not) to the Blythe children.


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