Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
This is perhaps the oddest of the Anne books, because it has the least Anne in it. Yet as a kid, I really enjoyed reading about the Meredith kids, so Rainbow Valley had a winning way about it for me. And surprisingly, as an adult, this book still holds up for me, though there were a few startling moments I did not remember.
John Meredith is the new minister for the Four Winds Presbyterian Church, and he brings with him a lively and spirited family: cranky old aunt Martha who can’t cook or keep house; Jerry, a mischievous and lively boy; Faith, a pretty and quick-tempered girl; Una, who is wistful and shy; and Carl, a scientist in the making. His wife has died and his unparented and uncared-for children are the talk of Four Winds. Their scrapes and good humor ingratiate them with everyone, including the Blythe children, in whom they find kindred spirits. They then discover Mary Vance, an orphaned working girl, in a hayloft and find a place for her (I was not and have never been a fan of her. To quote Susan, she is a cat of another color). They all converge in Rainbow Valley, a magical place of imagination where Walter Blythe’s dreams of a Pied Piper point to the war ahead.
I know that Faith is a golden child in in this book, but I’ve always been compelled by the braveness and intuition that Una possesses. She’s truly an old soul, and we so how very much she tries to care for her family in her own way, particularly her father. I always wished Una had gotten her due in the series a bit more.