The book is dedicated: "To the memory of Goldwin Lapp, Robert Brookes and Morley Shier who made the supreme sacrifice that the happy valleys of their home land might be kept sacred from the ravage of the invader." This refers to World War I, which is the main theme of the next and final book in the series, Rilla of Ingleside.
Anne Shirley has now been married to Gilbert Blythe for 15 years, and the couple have six children: Jem, Walter, Nan, Di, Shirley, and Rilla.
After a trip in Europe, Anne discovers that John Meredith, the new minister and a widower with four young children--Jerry, Faith, Una and Carl--has arrived in the village. With no mother, a very dreamy, too-lenient father and an old, bitter, and partially-deaf aunt to take care of them, the children are not properly brought up. The children are considered very wild and unruly in nature. Because of this, they have many scrapes leading to much gossip, risking their father's job. However, these children are kind-hearted in nature and have become good friends with Anne's children. Una helps save an orphaned girl, Mary Vance, from starvation and finds a home for her with Miss Cornelia and her husband, Marshall Elliot.
The Merediths, Blythes and Mary Vance like to play in a hollow called Rainbow Valley, which becomes a gathering place for the children in the book.
Meanwhile, John Meredith is also having a second romance, with Rosemary West. Objections from Rosemary's sister, Ellen, about a promise they made years ago, have obstructed them. Finally the problem is resolved by the children, who find Ellen's long forgotten love, and the book has a happy ending with a double marriage.
Walter Cuthbert Blythe: Walter is named after Anne's birth father and adoptive family, Cuthbert, and is quite the handsomest of the children. He has straight black hair and finely modelled features. Walter is thought of by the Glen St. Mary boys as girly and milky-soppish, because he never fights and rarely plays sports, preferring to read books alone. The Meredith children like Walter well, but Mary Vance finds him odd. Walter has all his mother's vivid imagination and love for beauty, and dreams of becoming a poet someday, choosing Paul Irving, one of his mother's pupils in Avonlea school, as a model. The boys at school respect Walter because of his "book talk", and all the more when he fights Dan Reese after Dan insulted Walter, his mother and his friend Faith.
Anne "Nan" Blythe: One of the Ingleside twins, Nan is Blythe by name and blithe by nature, being a dainty little maiden with velvety nut-brown eyes and silky nut-brown hair. Her complexion is almost flawless, and she has been well aware of this since she was very young. She has many friends, but is thought to be stuck up and proud by the Glen St. Mary ladies--particularly "Kitty Alec" Davis--because she imitates her mother's tricks, graces and poses. Nan also inherited her mother's imagination, which helps her make life more interesting for herself, and also gets her into numerous scrapes. "Nan" is named for her mother.
Diana "Di" Blythe: Diana is the other Ingleside twin, named after Anne's childhood friend, Diana Barry Wright. She looks a lot like her mother, with red hair and gray-green eyes. She is special chums with Walter, who tells her his secrets and lets her read his verses. Di is also her father's favourite, because of her similarity with Anne and because she is very much like him in qualities and personality, having his practical bent and common sense and his twinkling sense of humor. Diana, like her mother before her, regrets her hair colour and wishes her hair was like Nan's. She is very chummy and likes to have a named best-friend, which causes several unfortunate events for her, but she is also quite close to her brothers and sisters.
Shirley Blythe: Anne was very sick after giving birth to Shirley, so the Blythe housekeeper, Susan Baker, had to take care of him until Anne was well. Shirley calls Susan 'Mother Susan', and goes to her to have his bruises kissed and his cuts washed. Shirley is quiet and doesn't like to be forced to talk, liking to play on his own. He is known as the little brown boy, because he has brown eyes, hair and skin, he is also remarked as taking after Gilbert's father, John. Shirley was named for Anne's maiden family name.
Bertha Marilla "Rilla" Blythe: The youngest of the Ingleside children, Rilla is named after Anne's birth mother and adoptive "mother", Marilla. She was born a roly-poly plump baby, and remained so until she was seven. She had red hair, which later turned a ruddy-brown color, and brown eyes. Rilla is very proud, hates to be teased or to be classed with lower people. She has cherished a crush on Kenneth Ford since age six. Rilla has silly beliefs and ideas, and a fear of being unladylike. She has a lisp, which her mother believes she will grow out of. Later in her life, the lisp only comes back when Rilla is nervous. Rilla, in her teens, regrets being called by her silly childhood nicknames - Rilla or Spider - instead of her respectable and "dignified" first name, Bertha.
Faith Meredith - She is eleven when the book begins. Faith is described as wearing her beauty like a rose, careless and glowing. She has golden-brown curls, crimson cheeks, and golden-brown eyes. She is optimistic, laughs a lot, and has a rather different way of thinking. Faith had a pet rooster named Adam, but he was eaten and replaced by a canary, given to her by Rosemary West. She seems to have a crush on Jem. Una Meredith - Una is ten when the book begins. She is little and dreamy, like her father. She has straight pure black hair and almond-shaped dark blue eyes, with something sad about them. Her mouth sometimes falls open to reveal tiny square teeth and sometimes a shy smile creeps over her face. She is sensitive to public opinion, and is the only one who tries to keep the house clean and neat. Una is said to have an uneasy consciousness that there was something strange about her way of living, and longs to put it right, but doesn't know how. She misses her mother more than her siblings do and seems to have a little fancy for Walter.
Carl Meredith - Carl has the fearless, direct, clear blue eyes of his dead mother and brown hair with glints of gold. He is nine at the beginning of the book, and has a fancy for and curiosity towards bugs and animals. He often takes these to his bed or puts then in his pockets. Anne says she believes he will be an environmentalist.
Mary Vance - Mary is a cheeky girl,with tow-coloured hair and light blue eyes which the Meredith children call 'white eyes'. Found by the Meredith children in a barn, they take her home and look after her. She is later adopted by Miss Cornelia. Mary is about twelve when she is introduced in the book. She had previously lived with a horrid Mrs. Wiley who whipped her until she ran away.
|#||Book||Date published||Anne Shirley's age|
|1||Anne of Green Gables||1908||11 — 16|
|2||Anne of Avonlea||1909||16 — 18|
|3||Anne of the Island||1915||18 — 22|
|4||Anne of Windy Poplars||1936||22 — 25|
|5||Anne's House of Dreams||1917||25 — 27|
|6||Anne of Ingleside||1939||34 — 40|
|8||Rilla of Ingleside||1921||49 — 53|
|#||Book||Date published||Anne Shirley's age|
|—||Chronicles of Avonlea||1912||—|
|—||Further Chronicles of Avonlea||1920||—|