I think it is quite possibly the best of the “Anne” books in that it has a depth lacking in some of the others, mostly, I’m sure due to the subject matter. In this book, all of Montgomery’s strengths are on display: her fabulous characters, her social commentary and loving satire, her appreciation for the spiritual and unearthly,her humourous approach to romance, and her heroines.
Rilla of Ingleside has been described as possibly the best book written about the WWI homefront and I think it’s quite believable.
One of the most interesting things about this book is that Rilla is not your standard Montgomery heroine. She is not an underdog like Anne or Jane or Valancy who are instantly sympathetic to the reader. When we meet her she’s more of an Olive Stirling or even a *gasp* Josie Pye.
Rilla is the slightly spoiled youngest daughter of Anne and Gilbert Blythe. She wants for nothing because she’s the doctor’s daughter. She’s pretty and she knows it. She’s petty and frivolous and she doesn’t particularly care that it makes her unlikeable.
But from the minute the minute she has her adventure with the soup tureen (in a chapter title so I’m not really spoiling anything), she becomes more sympathetic. Suddenly we can root for Rilla as we watch her grow and struggle with being stoic and calm and firm while the war touches home in some way every minute of every day.
I would also mention that I read Rilla of Ingleside before I read Anne of Ingleside or Rainbow Valley and I think it made those two much more enjoyable for me.