Sunday, 25 October 2015

Dress Down Sunday: Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery


published 1936



LOOKING AT WHAT GOES ON UNDER THE CLOTHES



Anne of Windy Poplars
 
 

‘I’ve a plan’ said Anne, with a cautious glance to make sure Mrs Gibson couldn’t hear her… “You know that silver-gray poplin of mine? I’m going to lend you that for the wedding. Saturday morning you'll put it on under your black taffeta. I know it will fit you. It's a little long, but I'll run some tucks in it tomorrow . . . tucks are fashionable now. It's collarless, with elbow sleeves so no one will suspect. As soon as you get to Gull Cove, take off the taffeta. When the day is over you can leave the poplin at Gull Cove and I can get it the next week-end I'm home."

"But wouldn't it be too young for me?"

"Not a bit of it. Any age can wear gray."

"Do you think it would be . . . right . . . to deceive Ma?" faltered Pauline.

"Put it on," said Anne in her best school-teacherish manner.

Pauline obeyed and emerged a transformed Pauline. The gray dress fitted her beautifully. It was collarless and had dainty lace ruffles in the elbow sleeves. When Anne had done her hair Pauline hardly knew herself.

"I hate to cover it up with that horrid old black taffeta, Miss Shirley."

But it had to be. The taffeta covered it very securely. The old hat went on . . . but it would be taken off, too, when she got to Louisa's . . . and Pauline had a new pair of shoes. Mrs. Gibson had actually allowed her to get a new pair of shoes, though she thought the heels "scandalous high."

commentary: For once, what someone is wearing under their clothes is a complete outfit of proper clothes…

Pauline is a slave to her mother: Anne is plotting to try to give her a day off, to go to her cousin’s silver wedding celebration. The mother, Mrs Gibson, a splendid monster says she is leaving it to Pauline’s conscience: “If I must die alone I must.” Anne busybodies around and enables Pauline to go, but Mrs Gibson isn’t giving in too easily:
With a long sigh. “If I ain’t here when you come back, remember that I want to be laid out in my lace shawl and my black satin slippers. And see that my hair is crimped.”
Anne Shirley, heroine of the enchanting Anne of Green Gables, is I’m guessing in her early 20s in this book, and working as a teacher in a small town – see earlier entry. Blogfriend Lucy Fisher pointed this one out to me (ages ago) as being full of interesting clothes, and indeed it is. I have a low tolerance for the later Montgomery, and this one has the virtues and vices of all of them. It is very funny at times, and tells you what people wear. But Anne – whose attempts to get over her failings in the first book were so charming – is now annoyingly perfect, and the residents of Summerside line up to have her solve their problems with her knowledge of human nature. It gets very wearing.

A miserable fellow-teacher - she is described as an ‘iceberg and nutmeg grater combined’, a splendid phrase – really dislikes Anne, and I had a lot of sympathy for her, though she came round in the end. Miracles are performed, engagements are put right, missing fathers are found, photographs are taken. And Anne writes every week to her fiancé Gilbert.

This one is for the committed Anne-fans. LMM certainly kept the character going – this one was published fully 28 years after the first Anne book, although only a couple of years have passed in Anne’s world.

The picture is from the Library of Congress: an illustration from a 1900 book called The Lace Camisole by LB Walford – a book we should plainly be seeking out for Clothes in Books.














20 comments:

  1. I know what you mean, Moira, about the 'too perfect' heroine. The early Anne stories are a lot better, in my opinion. Still, I do like the guilt-as-weapon/manipulative tool that Mrs. GIbson uses. It's really accurate, even if stretched a bit out of proportion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Anne and Montgomery. I tried another Montgomery series and didn't like it at all.

      Delete
    2. I'm currently reading Emily of New Moon. Interesting book. I think I would like it a lot more if I were younger, but it's got its moments. I do like that Emily is such a stroppy, shirty, absolutely non-idealised little madam though, and that a lot of the people in it have their issues too, even the nasty ones have their weaknesses and the nice ones aren't so perfect.

      Delete
    3. You're almost making me want to give it another chance... I did not take to the book/her on a first go....

      Delete
    4. Actually I think this might be only the second Montgomery I've read.

      I do remember reading Rebecca at Sunnybrook Farm (very vaguely, and oddly enough, my only memory is of Rebecca's pink gingham dress getting bleached or stained....) And having just looked that up it isn't even Montgomery at all....

      So this is probably my first ever Montgomery. Odd, I'm surprised I didn't get around to the Anne books. I'm sure I MUST have read the first one at least at some point. I have to say that "Emily at New Moon" is a very interesting book and not at all what I expected - there is a lot of casual nastiness to many of the characters. Teddy's utterly dreadful passive-aggressive clingy mother-from-hell will linger in my mind longer than she ought to, and she's only ever mentioned. Apparently Emily is closer to a self portrait of the author, and I can definitely see that.

      I did find it interesting that the book focuses very heavily on women being in control, and not really answering to men, or generally being far more in control than the men. Emily is very much a book about girls and women taking control of their fates and future, and being in control - even when they fight and clash. So while not warming wholeheartedly to it, I find I have a massive amount of respect for the book and see it as a very interesting, very worthwhile book with some interestingly complex roles for its female characters - even if most of them are not the nicest people.

      BTW: No, I don't see the "email notifications." option - maybe I need to be signed in? Will check that .....

      Delete
    5. Hmm, I think you are signed in, because your name is coming up. I can see the notify box when I make this reply. I wonder if anyone else is having problems? - because I know a lot of people use that button. I need to ask..

      Meanwhile - that's a very interesting point you make about the women-in-control in Montgomery. And better dislikeable women than too many sugary sweet goody goodies....

      Delete
  2. Interesting, I think I'm the only female in the western hemisphere who hasn't read the Anne books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's never too late - you could read them now!

      Delete
  3. Windy Poplars has some very Gothic moments, despite the railway to Charlottetown. But I have to skip the little girl next door.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, definitely a book for cherry-picking. What a varied writer she was.

      Delete
  4. I had never really considered the transformation of Anne in these later books. But she does become quite the perfect mother, loving and endlessly patient, who always knows just what to say and how to fix things. Granted, she had a lot of experience caring for children, but her own upbringing (even at Green Gables) didn't give her strong role models for parenting - except maybe in the "don't do that" fashion.

    I've never gotten on with any of the non-Anne books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - and I can think of another girl-heroine who became a very improbably wonderful adult right now: Joey in the Chalet School series, who ended up with 10 or more children. No, I'm iffy about the later Anne books, and really couldn't get on with the others...

      Delete
  5. I have thought of trying some of the Anne books, but no concrete plans. Always too much else to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of these days Tracy. Anne of GG really is a classic, and, for example, my son is an unlikely fan. Anyone can enjoy!

      Delete
  6. Not for me, but you already knew that...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed I did. The spy novel last week will have to do you for now...

      Delete
  7. Moira: Every girl of my generation read Anne. I am sure she is Canada's best known literary character. Maybe I am now old enough to not worry about reading a book all the girls were reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That made me laugh! As I say somewhere else, my son loved Anne - but on the whole she is the heroine for a whole generation of girls, and not just in Canada. One of your finest exports!

      Delete
  8. Incidentally, what happened to the email notifications of replies option? I liked that - it helped me keep track of posts I'd posted to and replied to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Daniel - don't know why it's not showing for you - it should appear in bottom right when you post your comment. Would you check next time you post, and let me know if still not there? Thanks!

      Delete