Finished Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maude Montgomery. It is the seventh book in her Anne of Green Gables series. Anne with an e is now in her 40s. She and Gilbert have been married for 15 years. Their six children spend all their free time in Rainbow Valley, adjacent to their house, Ingleside. They fish in the stream and cook their catch on an open fire. They have names for every tree and landmark, just as Anne had back in Avonlea. One day the scent of roasting fish draws a new group of children into the valley. They are the children of the new minister, John Meredith. The Meredith children are hungry for more than food. They crave companionship and fun.
Mr. Meredith is kindly man, and a good minister, but as a father he is very distracted. As a widower, he has only his own elderly, stingy, almost blind Aunt Martha to run his busy household, The Manse. He is so grief stricken over the loss of his wife a few years earlier, that he does not notice the terrible food that is put before him and his family, the state of his children's shabby clothes or the fact that the child who is a guest in his household is a runaway orphan.
The one thing that engages John Meredith, beyond his calling, is Rosemary West. Rosemary lives with her older sister Ellen in their mother's house on the edge of town. While she teaches piano to the area children, she and her sister keep mostly to themselves. Both disappointed in love when they were younger, they have pledged to stay with each other always. John Meredith falls in love with Rosemary, but is unaware of her pledge to Ellen. When he asks her to marry him she tells him she needs time to think it over. Ellen is severe with her, reminding her of the duty of her promise. Brokenheartedly, Rosemary writes John a note of refusal. After this he is even more disconnected from the world around him.
It was nice to have a romance in the story again. Montgomery is very good at portraying children and the wounds that they experience at the hands and words of others. The Meredith children are badly in need of a kindred spirit. Luckily they find one in the end.