Revisiting Rilla of Ingleside

Revisiting Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside Anne Shirley's daughter Gilbert BlytheRegular Modern Mrs Darcy readers know that I’m an Anne of Green Gables fan.  I greatly enjoyed re-reading the series this spring and writing the popular Life Lessons from Green Gables series.  But somehow, I always lose steam before making it to Rilla of Ingleside, the 8th and final book in the Anne series.  Well, not this year.  I opened my copy and thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Rilla for the first time in over 10 years.

Rilla of Ingleside tells the story of Anne’s youngest daughter Rilla (namesake of Marilla Cuthbert) and her coming of age during World War I in Canada.  Rilla is 15 when the book opens–giddy, giggly, and full of life–but her mother laments her lack of ambition.  Rilla’s sole purpose in life is to have a good time.

But then the war begins in a far-off land, and before long Canadian boys–including Rilla’s brother Jem and some dear family friends–are suiting up in khaki and shipping overseas to fight for the Allies.  The book chronicles the war from the perspective of the Canadian homefront.

Wartime brings its challenges, and young Rilla is stretched in ways unimaginable in peacetime.  But in wartime, a girl has to do what a girl has to do, and Rilla rises to meet challenges big and small–from disarming petty girlish feuds to raising an orphaned war-baby.   The war lasts four-and-a-half long years, and Rilla comes out the other side a strengthened, deepened woman.

There’s a lot to like about Rilla of Ingleside. L. M. Montgomery’s heart was in this book–published in 1921, when the battle was still fresh in the minds and hearts of her readers.  The female characters are strong and sympathetic–with lots of pluck, to boot!

But I have my reservations about Rilla.

L. M. Montgomery has woven a love story through this little novel–a satisfying one, on one level.  15-year-old Rilla is smitten with Ken Ford, the son of Anne’s dear friend Leslie (Moore) Ford of Anne’s House of Dreams.  There is something very fitting (and very romantic) about a Blythe girl falling for Ken–a circle being completed.

And completed it is.  Ken indeed loves Rilla–but why?  Because she’s pretty?  Mrs. Montgomery, surely you could have done better than this!

Now, we know the merits of Rilla Blythe–not the giddy and giggly 15-year-old, but the woman she becomes.  And I want to believe that Ken, who has known the Blythe family his entire life, loves her as she deserves, and not as just a pretty face.  But Montgomery doesn’t say that at all–she says he loved her because she was beautiful.

I don’t object to Rilla being pretty–a beautiful heroine does make for a good story.  But I do object to her winning the man of her dreams based on looks alone–a story line that’s far more Disney princess than Anne of Green Gables.  I’ve heard Rilla recommended as a great read-aloud for young girls, but I’m not sure I want my impressionable daughter hearing this story anytime soon–I don’t want her to think her future marital happiness depends on beauty alone.

Rilla had so much depth of character to plumb–if only L. M. Montgomery had done more with it!

Have you read Rilla of Ingleside?  What’s your take?  If you need to refresh your memory–or dive in for the first time–a free Kindle edition is available at amazon.com.

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50 comments

  1. Linda says:

    I’ve never made it this far reading through the series. I think that I’ll be picking it up over the summer. Thank you for your insights into the book. If I end up reading this series aloud with my girls, the points you made will be good discussion starters. I have two teens and a tween, so these would be especially appropriate topics.

  2. The Anne series is one of my childhood (and current) favorites, but I must confess, I have not made it to the Rilla volume. I must read it this summer. As for the love & beauty issue, I agree that there is so much more to a woman than what she looks like on the outside. True beauty comes from the inside and a loving spouse will see the inside beauty coming through. I looking forward to invvestigating the book for myself.

  3. Hannah says:

    I haven’t read these books in about ten years myself. I do remember, though, that after losing Walter in the war I was so heartbroken that it was hard to go on! I would have loved him in Green Gables world…sigh…

  4. Sarah Beals says:

    It seems like the exact opposite of Anne in AOGG, who did not have looks going for her. 🙂 Will have to read this one this summer in all of my leisure time. 🙂

  5. Audrey says:

    I haven’t read this book for at probably eight years or so, so I’m not sure that as a young teen I picked up on that thread. I will have to reread it and see what I think now. I do I found this book heartbreakingly sad to the point that I couldn’t stop thinking about it from a good time after I read it.

  6. Kelly A says:

    I too am a big fan of AOGG and I think Rilla is one of the stronger books in the series. I too thought the love interest is a little weak–why would Ken be interested in a silly 15 year old? But the rest of the book is so good I can overlook that. It is just fascinating to read about a family on the homefront through WWI–we Americans seldom think about this war, as we were in it for such a short time.

    • Anne says:

      Yes! And as an American, I found Montgomery’s perspective on the USA’s waffling over whether or not to enter the war very interesting.

  7. Amanda says:

    I’m a huge Anne fan and have read the entire series through probably dozens of times since I was about 8 or 9. Having just recently discovered your blog I’m really excited to go back & read your other recaps! I have to admit, though, that I never noticed that aspect of the Ken/Rilla relationship. I will have to go back and re-read it to see if I pick up on it now. I think because Rilla is so developed by the end I understand why Ken would want to be with her and I’ve never been concerned with his motives 🙂

  8. I think I have to disagree. At the time, I don’t think there probably was as much time for revealing your character in relationships, because everything was chaperoned all the time, etc. Also, Ken and Rilla had known each other their entire lives. They talked for a long time at the lighthouse party, wrote to each other frequently, etc., etc. Maybe the initial attraction was from her prettiness, but we also have only one book to get to know Rilla, not the three books we had to develop Anne and Gilbert’s relationship (although, I did read that LMM didn’t want to write more books about Anne and family after AotI and her publishers made her, so maybe she really didn’t put in as much effort with developing the relationship).

    I do love this book, though, and think you have some good points. I’m going to have to re-read it to make sure of my opinion! 🙂

  9. Mrs. Zwieg says:

    I think there are many ways a woman can be beautiful to a man. There was a poll that was done where most of the men preferred women with no make-up and a smile instead of make-up and no smile. So perhaps, Montgomery was simply making the reference knowing that men are attracted to beautiful women (which may be different than a womans opinion) and could very well be a man that is unable to express himself fully beyond that. My own husband is not very talky and most people think he married me just becuase I can cook and clean and he thinks I am pretty…yet, becuase I know him, I understand that it goes so much deeper for him, though he does not express it well verbally.

    Wow…that looks like a big long ramble, I hope that it came across the way it does in my head! 🙂

  10. Being a fellow kindred spirit and “anne-girl” this tells me that I have a lot of catching up to do and that I MUST MUST MUST read this last book in the series!! Which means of course I want to start all over again and read from the beginning!! Thank you for your great review here, which is all-encompassing, but obviously doesn’t give away major plot elements! I look forward to reading it and I’ll share what I think as well!

  11. Clara says:

    I have read the entire Anne of Green Gables series many times, they are old, comfortable friends. (I have an urge to go home and re-read one or more yet again.)

    I can see how a young girl might misinterpret this. I didn’t Rilla of Ingleside for the first time until I was later in High School. I recall noticing that Ken was drawn to Rilla for her beauty initially, but as the story progressed he seemed to see her more deeply; looking past her superficial beauty to see the person she was becoming. What comes to mind is Ken being impressed with how Rilla took care of the war orphan. There is one scene in particular on the porch, he is admiring her beauty but it comes through that part of her beauty is his admiration for how she has grown into a woman.

  12. Jeannine says:

    I have read the series several times and love it. I just checked out Rilla on audio tape from the library this week! Since the story is about Rilla, and mostly from her perspective, there wasn’t much need to delve into why Ken loves her – we know why, and it isn’t just because she’s pretty. He sees in her what we see in her. It’s just implied! I would definitely let my teen daughter read it (if I had one). : )

    Plus, this book is how I learned to keep WWI straight from WWII since I just don’t remember learning about WWI in school. It sure made the war real to me.

  13. Amanda says:

    I find a lot of the details in the Anne books to be disapointing because of a shalowness of character or plot. However, if you read the published journals of L.M.M., you can see how much pressure she was under from her publisher(s) and readers to produce conventional heroines. She struggled with the heroines she wanted to create and the heroines her fans and publishers demanded of her. Her journals are an excellent read and I highly recommend them to fans of L.M.M. It gives a new insight into the life of an author, a Minister’s wife, and a mother. Your local library may have them (they are in several volumes) or you might try your local university’s library.
    Best,
    Amanda

  14. Annie says:

    Rilla is one of my favorte of the Anne books. It makes me cry every time (as does Anne of Green Gables). I think that Ken is initially attracted to her for her beauty, but like Jeannine said above the picture in his mind that he takes to battle with him is the tender mother-like pose of her over the baby. He was seeing much more than the silly little girl. He was seeing that she had grown and matured in terms of her spirit since the dance at the lighthouse. They also exchanged letters, and it does say that she shares some of them, but also that she keeps some of them ( or at least a few lines in some of them) just for herself. They had a romance that is not easily developed when he is not present in the book except for a few scenes. I wouldn’t worry about reading it aloud to my daughter. If I think she is old enough to handle the aspects of war, and death, and maturing into a woman I hope she is able to see beyond the under-developed love story.

  15. MelanieB says:

    It’s been some years since I read Rilla; but I think my take on it would be my take on any problematic aspect of an otherwise sound book. I’d read it aloud and then take the bull by the horns and discuss the issue directly. It could be a good springboard for discussing what makes a good marriage, what your criteria are in choosing a spouse.

    • Anne says:

      Yes, absolutely a good springboard. As for my family, my oldest daughter is 6, and I’m not quite ready to go there with her yet (unless, of course, it comes up in other ways–but I’m not ready to purposefully introduce this topic through our story selection). She’s not ready for the war story line in Rilla, either. I think she’ll love reading the Anne books…in a year or two.

      • MelanieB says:

        I agree 6 is too young to really appreciate Anne. I’d think maybe 8 or even 10. I didn’t discover Anne till I was in high school. Since my oldest is 5 we’ve got a few years to go too. But it’s something I really look forward to.

  16. Angie says:

    I, being a Maritimer, have read this series of books many times over the years.I think that what you take away from these books depends on age, experience & perspective. I view them much differently now as when I was 8 years old & reading them for the first time on my Grandmother’s sofa while on summer vacation. I have a daughter who is now 14 and over the years see the release of abridged/storybook editions of the AOGG series which can serve as a great introduction to these books. I think that when sharing a book with your daughter…that all aspects of the story can be open for discussion and I would, indeed, have the discussion on whether Ken really loved Rilla for her ‘outward’ beauty or her ‘inward’ beauty. My goal with my daughter is not to make that decision for her but to guide her in analytical thinking where she can think constuctively about issues/themes for herself and form her own opinions. When I form an opinion about a book like this, and deny her the chance to read something, then I also deprive her of the experience to develop critical thinking for herself.

  17. Tiffany says:

    I love Rilla of Ingleside! It’s one of my favorites, and I never fail to cry at a certain part no matter how many times I have read it. And Dog Monday- that little side story is beautiful and one of the best parts of the book.
    I think that the romance was not well-developed because it wasn’t the heart of the story. I also have never, in all my readings, gotten the impression that Ken only loved Rilla for her beauty. In fact, the passage mentioned in another comment (where he sees her with the baby and thinks she looks like the Madonna) is very moving to me. They had known each other forever; I think it’s only a realization of his love for her that he experiences, which is triggered by her womanly beauty. Before that realization, he simply saw her as a friend and a kid. Her beauty is the trigger (but isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?) not the sole cause.
    Thanks for the review. Very thought provoking.

  18. Tess says:

    I don’t agree with this characterization of Rilla and Ken’s romance. Rilla is my very favorite of the Anne books and her relationship with Ken is an important reason for this. The scene that comes to mind for me (Annie mentioned this earlier) is when he comes to say goodbye to her and Jims starts to cry, so she is forced to cradle the baby throughout what was supposed to be her romantic farewell to her lover. While she is embarrassed about the baby’s presence, Ken sees her in a Madonna-and-child pose and I think it’s made pretty clear that that is the moment when he falls in love with her. He loves her for her feminine nature, with its capacity for maternal tenderness and self-gift, far more than for her physical beauty. That’s the message I got out of Rilla and I hope you can see why I think their romance (and the reasons behind it) are just beautiful!

  19. becca says:

    The book says Ken fell in love with Rilla, while watching Rilla cuddle little baby Jims. It wasn’t just that Rilla was beautiful it was the fact she would do something like care for a little orphan baby. And he stayed true to her for four years. If it was just beauty he’d have gone for someone else. Ken is from Toronto, and Rilla was not his first “girlfriend”. They wrote a lot of letters in the four years, and so I’m sure he knew Rilla really well (they grew up together)

  20. becca says:

    To illustrate my point and defend it even more

    Here’s the [Quote]Kenneth sat very still and silent, looking at Rilla–at the delicate, girlish silhouette of her, her long lashes, her dented lip, her adorable chin. In the dim moonlight, as she sat with her head bent a little over Jims, the lamplight glinting on her pearls until they glistened like a slender nimbus, he thought she looked exactly like the Madonna that hung over his mother’s desk at home. He carried that picture of her in his heart to the horror of the battlefields of France. He had had a strong fancy for Rilla Blythe ever since the night of the Four Winds dance; but it was when he saw her there, with little Jims in her arms, that he loved her and realized it. And all the while, poor Rilla was sitting, disappointed and humiliated, feeling that her last evening with Ken was spoiled and wondering why things always had to go so contrarily outside of books. She felt too absurd to try to talk. Evidently Ken was completely disgusted, too, since he was sitting there in such stony silence.[/Quote]

    I think this passage illustrates very clearly that Ken fell in love with Rilla for her inner beauty. Here was this girl who was not only beautiful but wonderful with children and willing to even take an war orphan in, at 16. When she could out doing more frivilous things.

    Not to mention in other books Lucy writes and states that Ken/Rilla were alway in love with each other, since they were kids.

    • Juniper says:

      Does it really matter? Regardless of whether it’s an ideal of physical beauty + girlish joy or an ideal of physical beauty + maternalism, the problem is that he’s falling in love with an ideal instead of getting to know the actual person.
      The important thing is that
      a) The two times when he’s shown falling in love with her, she hardly says anything.
      b) Over FOUR years of writing each other, they never establish anything definite about their relationship. She never says “Are we engaged or what?” He never says, “Hey, would you ever consider moving to Toronto?” As someone whose nearing my fourth anniversary of a long-distance relationship, this level of superficiality blows my mind.
      c) He doesn’t behave, after the war ends, like a man who can’t wait to see Rilla or like one who empathizes with the fact that she might want to see him. He’s home for two weeks before he goes to visit her. That’s understandable, since his parents must desperately want to see him, and they live in Toronto, 1600 miles from Prince Edward Island. But he doesn’t bother to contact Rilla (phone, letter, and telegram are all available for the purpose) in the intervening time.
      It seems like Rilla has a shallow schoolgirl crush (not shocking considering that she’s a teenager the whole time), and that she’s an afterthought in Kenneth’s life.
      But then, we’re never shown any direct quotes from Rilla’s letters to Ken or v.v., while we ARE shown quotes from Walter’s and Jem’s letters. Rilla is shown planning her letters to her brothers, but not to Kenneth. Perhaps Kenneth was a literary afterthought shoved in to appease publishers? After all, in one of the other Anne books, Anne is advised by a mentor that there’s plenty of time to think about boys after “girlhood” (which seems to roughly line up with the teenage years).
      Then again, the rules of this world are very different than our own. Una, who’s shown as shy but otherwise a model of womanhood, is in love with Walter, and never tells him. Perhaps at that time it was normal for women not to know anything about the state of their relationship until they actually got married. If so, that’s another reason I’m really glad I didn’t live then.
      And L.M. Montgomery has usually kept the majority her male characters pretty well sidelined. Gilbreth appears in every Anne book, but aside from “mischievous boy” and “hard-working doctor, occasionally rather imperious with his family”, I hardly feel like I know him at all. So maybe she expects us to understand that Rilla and Kenneth’s relationship is growing without showing us.

      • becca says:

        Juniper.. It is a different time. You don’t move to another city if your not married. And I’d imagine a man asks a father for the girls hand-something Kenneth wasn’t able to do.

        Kenneth did know Rilla the two of them grew up together-their entire lives. There’s another small story vingenette book out there. And its after Rilla of Ingleside and you have Susan state that Kenneth and Rilla loved each other since they were children… Perhaps too Kenneth himself didn’t want to persume too much.. Even if he asked her to wait for him…Because it was four years a lot can happen in four years.

        As for not contacting her for 2 weeks? Maybe Kenneth did try to contact her by letter and it got lost in the mail? Phone may not have been possible at that time (given money)…As for back two weeks that doesn’t mean free two weeks…I got the idea from the small story that Kenneth/Rilla had a bit of an engagement period after Kenneth came back that it wasn’t just rush after money.

        And as for her looks I think he did fall in love with her for her character? What’s wrong with admiring someone for their maternal instincts? I have had admired men who show a great affinity with children… Its attracted me to them… And its not just about the children but the fact that Rilla was selfless enough to take on a war baby…She didn’t have to raise that little baby-she owed that child nothing.. But she did. Who couldn’t admire that in a future spouse?

      • Juniper says:

        “Juniper.. It is a different time. You don’t move to another city if your not married.”

        Yes, but fiancés usually made plans before they were married. If Kenneth really intended to be engaged to Rilla, I would expect him at some point to talk about their post-war future, not string her along without ever clarifying the relationship.

        “And I’d imagine a man asks a father for the girls hand-something Kenneth wasn’t able to do.”

        In the Anne books, the father is asked AFTER the woman. Several women are shown saying “We can’t get married because my father (or mother, or sister) wouldn’t approve”, implying that the woman’s consent has been obtained, but not the father’s (or mother’s, or sister’s). Elopement is also repeatedly shown as a completely respectable and community-supported decision, so the father’s approval is only a little more than a formality. Though daughters don’t just tell the father off and get married in front of them, so it is a LITTLE more than a formality.

        “Kenneth did know Rilla the two of them grew up together-their entire lives.”

        Yes, but Kenneth is several years older than Rilla and treated her like a kid sister for most of that time. It’s an entirely different relationship than an engagement.

        “There’s another small story vingenette book out there. And its after Rilla of Ingleside and you have Susan state that Kenneth and Rilla loved each other since they were children…”

        In Rilla of Ingleside, Rilla has had a crush on Kenneth since he was a child, but it hasn’t been returned. I wouldn’t put it past Susan’s pro-Ingleside bias to re-paint that as a mutual attraction. Regardless, a childhood crush is an entirely different relationship than an engagement between adults

        “ Perhaps too Kenneth himself didn’t want to persume too much.. Even if he asked her to wait for him…Because it was four years a lot can happen in four years.”

        Certainly, that’s one of the more charitable interpretations I’ve considered. Say, Kenneth is attracted to Rilla but knows she’s too young for him. Anne, for once in the book, is wrong. Kenneth did not intend to get engaged. Instead, he thoughtlessly extracted the kiss promise without really thinking about what it would mean to Rilla. He intentionally keeps the relationship light, not intending to move forward until the war ends, he knows that he has a future, and Rilla is old enough to make serious decisions.
        But considering that Kenneth has a reputation for being a heartbreaker, you could just as easily believe that he’s Irene in male form—basking in Rilla’s adulation without ever really caring for her, extracting the promise because he can.
        The book provides so little information about their relationship that you could make up just about anything you like.

        What the text doesn’t show is the kind relationship growth that I would expect from a healthy engagement (or, much more healthy yet, BEFORE an engagement). And considering that Kenneth’s homecoming is the resolution of the novel, that seems very odd. I would really expect at least SOME occasional throw-away mention of a phrase of Kenneth’s that makes her worry about him, of Kenneth’s supporting words, of Kenneth’s plans, of a book she sent him and they talked about. I expect the book to show us as much interaction and emotional involvement between Rilla and her fiancé as between Rilla and her brothers, not just tell us that he’s become more important to her than them. Or I would expect the book to tell us that Kenneth is intentionally keeping it light. Otherwise, he just seems like he’s jerking her around.
        Though I don’t actually think that Kenneth was intended to be a shallow character. I think he was just lazily written.
        “As for not contacting her for 2 weeks? Maybe Kenneth did try to contact her by letter and it got lost in the mail? Phone may not have been possible at that time (given money)…As for back two weeks that doesn’t mean free two weeks…”

        Sure. But, again, considering that the book spends so little time supporting the idea the Kenneth and Rilla’s relationship has matured, it seems like something that needs explaining.

        “I got the idea from the small story that Kenneth/Rilla had a bit of an engagement period after Kenneth came back that it wasn’t just rush after money.”

        Money?

        “And as for her looks I think he did fall in love with her for her character? What’s wrong with admiring someone for their maternal instincts? I have had admired men who show a great affinity with children… Its attracted me to them… And its not just about the children but the fact that Rilla was selfless enough to take on a war baby…She didn’t have to raise that little baby-she owed that child nothing.. But she did. Who couldn’t admire that in a future spouse?”

        Sure, that’s a fine place to START a relationship. It’s a lousy reason to get engaged to someone you’ve always thought of as a child and hardly ever had a conversation with.

      • Maggie says:

        I agree about the non-development of the men characters in all of the Anne books: beginning with the support from Matthew, who barely spoke; the men are there, but we really do not know them. The stories seem to center around the very strong female relationships.; I still re-read this series very summer, it’s like a vacation.

  21. I think I read it once. Like you, I ‘lose steam’ by the time I get to “Rilla.” “Anne’s House of Dreams” and “Anne of Ingleside” are two of my favorites; I haven’t even read “Rainbow Valley” in a long time. I think Anne herself is the best role model for young women in the series. I certainly can relate to her: she’s not perfect and has quite a few faults, but she recognizes them, works to control them, and is a (generally) selfless, giving, kind, affectionate, and encouraging woman. I wish L.M. Montgomery would have made Anne’s faith more of a defining part of her life; she is a Christian, but it doesn’t seem to have an obvious effect on her. At least, that’s my opinion.

    I do remember, from “Anne of Ingleside,” that Rilla had admired Kenneth since she was VERY small, and that she was considered the “beauty” of her siblings. Part of it might result from her being the youngest–babies of the family seem to be made much of more so than their older siblings.

  22. Allison says:

    I agree with you. As a girl of about Rilla’s age, I find that reading this book makes me feel very dissatisified with my looks, and dispairing of ever getting marrried. Her beauty is a major thing in the book, and appears to be the reason Ken falls for her. It is too bad, because I love the rest of the series.

  23. Anouk says:

    Rilla of Ingelside never, ever fails to make me cry. I love Ken and Rilla and I certainly don’t think he loves her only be because she is beautiful. She wrote to him over 4 years. He would certainly have understood her character from those letters.
    My own grandparents fell in love through letters exchanged during WW2.

  24. Katie says:

    Hmm, I am not sure!

    As I recall (and I was OBSESSED with AOGG), it said that Ken “had had a strong fancy for” Rilla ever since the night of a dance, but it was on the night he came to see her that “he loved her and realized it” (maybe loosely quoted?). She was holding Jims because he had had a nightmare and she had run upstairs to get him.

    So regardless of when he called her beautiful (don’t men always, and doesn’t it mean so many things?), I think that he was falling in love with her deepening character.

    (Even when we are introduced to Rilla, she does have a depth of perception that allows her to notice how taken Una is with her brother, and she does not seem to mind this–and believe me, sisters can be very jealous and very picky!)

    I would say the primary difficulty is that Montgomery is developing Rilla from a spoiled fifteen year old (a doctor’s daughter, after all–not an orphan like Anne) into a grown young woman, and this is difficult to do in the course of ONE book. With Anne there were a couple of books spanning her adolescence to engagement. 🙂

  25. Daryl says:

    I have read and reread these books over the years and I always find something new to enjoy. I believe that Ken & Rilla’s relationship also grew in the letters they exchanged which are not shared in the story. Montgomery had to condense the entire War of over 4 years into one book and there were many story lines beside the romance of Rilla & Ken to consider in the book. Ken loved her for more than her beauty.

  26. SJ says:

    I have to say, that naturally reading the AOGG books got a little more serious and a little less dreamy with each book after the third one finished up. I personally couldn’t stand “Rilla”, the book OR the character. But especially the character. She’s whiny, spoiled, and is not deep. I definitely didn’t get that she is deep. I hated her the first time I read it, but read it again several years later and still couldn’t deal with Rilla. She only takes the baby in because Anne thinks it will be good for her, and un-spoil her a little. Oh, wow, how generous. She simply comes off as very superficial. Which was disappointing, because she is the daughter of ANNE AND GILBERT. Oh well.

    • Anne says:

      SJ, It’s interesting that you say the books get “a little more serious and a little less dreamy” as the series progresses. I’ve heard that The Blythes Are Quoted–the final book in the series, that I’ve never read–is downright dark.

      It’s so disappointing to dislike a literary character that we want to be fond of! I’m sorry you feel that way about Rilla. It IS disappointing!

    • becca says:

      Taking on a baby was generous of Rilla. Eventually Jims became healthy enough to send to an orphanage, and she didn’t do it. Rilla didn’t owe that baby or that baby’s family anything. And she gave up a carefree teen years, to take on a baby. She was the primary caretaker too. I don’t think that’s something to be written off. Rilla clearly had a generosity of heart even if she was spoiled.

      As for Kenneth we get very little insights into him. But the view insights we have, say that Kenneth started seeing Rilla as less of a child at the party before the war. And that he did fall in love with her that night. Perhaps looks were part of it, but I think its telling that he fell in love with Rilla, watching her with Jims.

      As for his intentions, the guy ended up marrying her, clearly his intentions were honorable. We don’t know what was said in those letters, it was wartime. We know some romantic things were said.

      Also one could point out that Kenneth himself was clearly not 100% sure about Rilla’s feelings FOR HIM. He barely got time to talk to her that night, and his first words to her, was “are you Rilla MY Rilla? Perhaps Kenneth himself-didn’t want to presume to much.

      But he comes home and immediately get to Glen Oaks were he can claim his girl.

  27. Kaydee Sum says:

    Ken and RIlla grew up together. Ken would know her in her most embarrassing times, and when she’s mad, and he loved her not only because of her beauty, but because who she is. I think L. M. Montgomery just didn’t put it in.

  28. Katherine says:

    Rilla of Ingleside is one of my favorite books, and personally I found the relationship sweet. Sure, Ken initially was attracted to her because of her beauty, but then, over the years, that attraction grows to love, but most assuredly not because of her beauty alone. They wrote for at least two years straight. I consider this extremely significant in the growth of their feelings towards each other, particularly on Ken’s side. Rilla’s growing maturity is extensively conveyed in her letters, and letters can bring people closer than any other form of communication. The book even says that she tried to be humorous in her letters in order to bring light and life into his life (which she most certainly did). This means that her letters had depth, as opposed to simply listing happenings and talking about the weather/war. She infused her letters with her personality and her life. I consider the letters the crucial part of their relationship’s growth.

  29. Kali says:

    I really enjoyed reading these posts. I have read Rilla of Ingleside twice, but it has been several years. The thing I remember the most is her relationship with her brother.

  30. Christine-lmmfan says:

    Rilla of Ingleside has been my favorite book since I read it a year or so ago. I keep re-reading it on gutenberg.org because it is the most amazing Anne book to me. I mostly remember
    1) Walter and Rilla/Una
    2) Ken and Rilla
    3) Rainbow Valley scenes
    4) Walter’s last letter/Una’s and Rilla’s reactions
    I have read The Blythes Are Quoted, the sequel to Rilla. There are many vignettes focused on Walter’s poems in there, and in one of them Rilla is remembering Walter’s love of the forests and how he loved Rainbow Valley etc, ect. Another times Anne admits that it was better for Walter to never have returned from the war—and Walter admits that himself in Rilla.

  31. Amber says:

    I agree that there was little in the “Rilla” book to establish a solid relationship between Rilla and Kenneth. Frankly, I was always struck by the age gap between them. Six years is a lot when it results in one party being a minor and the other an adult (Rilla 16 and Kenneth 22, if I remember the gap correctly.) At the same time, the book shouldn’t be read as a love story. Instead, much like “Anne of Green Gables,” “Rilla of Ingleside” is a coming of age story. From that perspective Kenneth need be little more than a placeholder-type romantic trope because the real point of the story is Rilla’s individual growth of character and progression into adulthood, her ideas of romance being only one aspect of her growing up. From that perspective the aforementioned scene is perfectly in keeping with the story because in it we see Rilla sacrificing her personal desire to present herself in the most attractive light while saying goodbye to Kenneth in order to care for Jims. As an aside, it also seems that her adult behavior of prioritizing and putting her charge’s well-being before her immediate enjoyment may be what struck Kenneth and made hime re-evaluate his attraction to her, but that isn’t the central purpose of the story. The story is primarily about Rilla, as the central character, and her transition from childhood into adulthood.

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