So we finally come to The Great War. This has been slowly building for four or five books now, each book has had some hint about this major event and how it will effect the characters. If I'm to be honest, I don't think I've read this book more then once or maybe twice. The first time I read it, I was very young and the character death really bothered me, so I didn't re-read it very often if at all. Is that a spoiler? It's war, the book is about WWI, I think it's a given that one of the characters is going to die. However, I enjoyed it much more this time, even despite the heavy handed and melodramatic pronunciations as the war started and got worse. Seriously, there are not one, not two, but three premonitions from one character and of course you've got Walter's Piper who shows up numerous times.
The book opens on Susan reading notes in the paper about the Blythe and Meredith families, completely ignoring the headline of some archduke who was assassinated. We move on to Rilla, not quite fifteen, a few weeks later as she prepares to head to her first dance. And it's a marvelous dance, she even spends some time with the dreamy Kenneth Ford (son of Leslie from House of Dreams). However, all that is ruined, RUINED, as someone comes in to say that Britain has declared war on Germany. The dance continues afterwards, but of course it's not the same. And then, well it's the war, as told from the point of view of Rilla at home with her brothers and friends slowly joining up one by one to head out to the trenches. She adopts a war baby, which I'd completely forgotten about, organizes a Junior Red Cross, and does what she can to stay brave and true as the world turns inside out around her. It's the everyday details that made me enjoy the book, from Susan's exasperation with Woodrow Wilson as the US dallies about, to little Dog Monday waiting faithfully by the train, they give a pretty good look at life for these women.
One thing to note, apparently this book has been edited to remove some of the anti-German sentiment Montgomery wrote, and then it was added back in when a new edition was released in 2010. It looks like the version I have on my kindle is the newer version, per this site's accounting of the differences. Though I ought to double check. I will say, the character of Whiskers on the Moon (whose real name escapes me) who is supposed to be a villain, is both more ridiculous then I remember and more sympathetic to this modern reader then Montgomery probably intended.