I'll always have a special place for the earlier books, especially 'Anne of the Island', but nothing is unmatched to 'Anne's House of Dreams'.
I always have a certain problem when reading Anne books. Although I enjoy the plot and characters, I resent the melancholy, wistful feel to it everytime Anne goes into a new chapter of her life. There was the last chapter of the first book; 'A Bend in The Road', where the simple description and mood of the scene was so heart-wrenching that I almost cried. 'Anne of Avonlea' was just as sentimental as the previous book, with Anne realizing she cannot turn back time to when she was eleven. We, as readers feel the impact too. We have come to love each and every one character in Avonlea and we cannot stand to watch the years go by and be forced accept that the people are changing. 'Anne of the Island' cured that depressing tone slightly by bringing in cheerful college life but still retained the usual Avonlea village scenes into it. A romance brewing between Gilbert and Anne also helped distract readers from getting too upset about Anne growing up and leaving her childhood days forever. But nevertheless the proposal scene at the last chapter brought up those suppressed feelings out once again and left us smiling a bittersweet smile at the closing descriptions of the book.
But in 'Anne's House of Dreams', we are introduced to a whole new atmosphere. No longer is Anne running dreamily into magical forests and delighting in fairy brooks, listening to the whispers of the trees or playacting as a Fair Maiden with her childhood friends. The fairy-tale, static forests of Avonlea are replaced with a vast sea, salty breezes and spicy scents of seagrass in the air. Whereas the previous books were stuffy and melancholic, this book is wonderfully refreshing and light. Instead of feeling that everything is going to end (growing older, beloved characters dying, leaving Green Gables and Avonlea), we find ourself anticipating Anne's new life as a married woman.
And the plot construction! I've never read an Anne series with a plot so tight and focused. The twist at the end concerning Leslie's husband was the cream of the crop, and I've also enjoyed the beautiful life-story of Captain Jim. Even Anne and Gilbert are involved into this snug plot, they are mostly the benefactors of the events: Gilbert's idea to cure Leslie's husband and Anne's idea to have Captain Jim's life-story written down.
On the other hand, I would complain that there weren't many scenes of the old characters; save Gilbert (duh) and Marilla. It's as if Anne is losing contact with her old life, which makes me a bit sad. I was dying to know more about Davy, Diana, Paul Irving, the Pyes, and even Charlie Sloane. I would love the series more if Anne remained in Avonlea and raised her family in the midst of the atmosphere that we have come to recognize and cherish. What's the use of getting us attached to the 'Lake of Shining Waters' and 'The White Way of Delight' and 'Lover's Lane' and 'Hester Gray's garden' and 'Dryad's Bubble' if Anne was going to move away and leave all those memories behind? Blame it on Gilbert. (kidding)
I finished reading this book with a heart-warmed feeling in my heart for the first time, it seemed more appropriate as a beautiful closure to the series. It should have ended here instead of dragging along until she fades away to become a secondary character in the next three upcoming books.