Flo Gibson is not my favorite narrator but she is consistent and once one gets used to her voice, the story takes over and must carry the day. Just play the sample and find out if you can make allowances. It is harder to review standards such as "Little Women". Who hasn't read, seen, heard or watched some version of this story? I have yet to see a movie adaptation better than the usual chopped-up Hollywood muddles. This seems to me to be a story about taking responsibility for oneself. When adversity pummeled the March family, they did not turn to some government agency, blame others or whine about unfairness. They devised solutions, worked hard, made good decisions and accepted responsibility. No job was beneath them. The March girls with their foibles and follies, were serious creatures and members of an admirable family who had the traits of direct descendents of New England transcendentalists including Louisa May Alcott. I had forgotten how much of this story took place in Scotland, England, France, Germany, Italy and a few other European countries including one important proposal. I started taking note of off-beat proposals years ago probably beginning with Mr. Collins' and Mr. Darcy's memorable forays into the marriage market. Laurie's off hand proposal to Amy in the little boat on the lake was excellent. Professor Bhaer's proposal to Jo while both were ankle deep in mud, in the pouring rain, was classic. Oh yes, did Meg need a proposal? I think not. What would this story look like if written today? I do not presume to know but one can speculate and I am pained to report from the evidence on bookstore shelves, the result would not be an elevation of Western Civilization. For other really good families on the home front five-star stories, check out "Rilla of Inglesides" by Lucy Maude Montgomery and "Cheerfulness Breaks In" by Angella Thirkell.
Rebecca Burns has great accent. I can't quite put my finger on the origins but she is perfect for this story. The word Pollyanna has taken on something of a negative connotation, a kind of empty headed happiness despite circumstances, usually said in a sneering condescending tone after the fashion of some college professors or self righteous politicians. I carried away a very different idea of a Pollyanna. For your consideration: Her father died. Her mother died. Her brothers and sisters all died. She is homeless and penniless. She is sent to live with a relative who doesn't love her or want her. She truly stands alone. She took all the hard knocks that the world threw her way. As often as she was knocked down; she picked herself up, dusted herself off and found a reason to smile as she faced the next trial. Even when pummeled with blows which have brought great men to their knees, Pollyanna did not yield. Almost, perhaps, but she never surrendered. Further evidence for your consideration: Who changed? Not Pollyanna; she was the glowing wondering little person at the end that she was when we first met. Nope, it was the adults who were changed by this small force of nature: Aunt Polly, the doctor, Nancy, Mr. Pendleton, the minister, et al, in fact an entire town. So if someone is Pollyannaish, what are they? In my book, brave as a combat Marine, loyal as a Saint Bernard and tough as a Pollyanna Whittier.
Lucy Maude Montgomery's books are usually found in the children's section and children can and do gain immense pleasure from reading and re-reading them. As I have grown older, I found that I have outgrown categories such as children's or women's books. I think such categories can and do hide a books true merit.
Rilla of Ingleside is the conclusion of the stories begun in Rainbow Valley. As I wrote the previous sentence, I realized that it wasn'true. LM Montgomery wrote only one book during her life. It is a book of stories of and about the people of the Maritime Provinces of Canada and in particular, Prince Edward Island. At its core, Rilla is a romance, a very powerful and moving romance set against the background of World War I and oddly enough includes only two kisses. One kiss was bestowed by Rilla a silly empty headed girl and the second by Rilla the woman. I add, a woman worth having and loving. In between, the politics, privations, sacrifices and motivations of individuals and nations become understandable. One can gain an insight into the lives of ordinary people and their extraordinary accomplishments; most important of all, their quiet resolute courage both on the battlefield and in the kitchens, parlors and churches. Rilla is a story about how World War I changed the world forever and affects us and our attitudes today. It is a book older children will love as well as adults who have gown up enough.
The narrator, Anna Fields has a gift and leads us on through these stories with her clear pleasant voice as she assumes the identity of widely varying characters.
Brilliant. Compelling. Categorized as "Young Adult" but perhaps more because the female protagonist is a child, this story will break your heart on one page and on the next give you comfort. You can't help but care about the characters.
The narrator, Allan Corduner, is truly amazing as he brings life to Death, the book's narrator. I took great pleasure in how his voice messaged the words and images. I've read reviews from those who read the written words and they all complain that it was slow getting into the story, but not true with Allan Corduner giving voice to Death.