Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness  Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.  In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.  Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables."

Marilla Cuthbert lives a quiet life on Prince Edward Island.  She lives with her father, her pregnant mother, and her brother in a modest house on their farm.  Although their farmhouse is off the beaten path, Marilla's father is slowly improving it.  Marilla's mother, despite her previous  challenging pregnancies, finds herself pregnant again at an advanced age for the time period.  With this in mind, her mother's sister, Izzy, comes to visit and help out.  Marilla is thirteen years old and things are changing for her on her idyllic island.  She is starting to notice boys, making her first real girl friend, and the politics of the island are changing as well.  Aunt Izzy really interests Marilla and why wouldn't she? She left Avonlea for the busy city and is a successful dressmaker who is, believe it or not, unmarried.  Aunt Izzy, noticing Marilla can be a bit of a homebody, brings her along to a sewing circle at a nearby house and while there Marilla meets Rachel, who ends up being her best friend.  Through Rachel, Marilla also becomes better acquainted with John Blythe.  John and Marilla hit it off and just when things start to look promising for Marilla disaster strikes.  Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy is the story I had always hoped for the much loved character of Marilla.  Fans of Anne of Green Gables will absolutely love to be back in the charming world of Avonlea.

In Anne of Green Gables, there are references to a past between John Blythe and Marilla. In Marilla of Green Gables, McCoy explores this possibility and I absolutely loved it. While a true Anne of Green Gables fan already knows Marilla's fate, I loved going on the journey with her and it helped me to understand why Marilla felt like she couldn't leave Green Gables or abandon her brother.  Just because Marilla doesn't get the guy in the end doesn't make her any less fascinating of a person.  I truly loved her world and didn't want to leave it.

McCoy does a wonderful job bringing Avonlea to life.  I felt like this re-imagining really worked.  Sometimes when authors continue a beloved story, readers can be upset or disappointed by where the author takes the plot, but that was not the case in Marilla of Green Gables . It was a reuniting that I never thought possible and I was happy to see my old friends.

McCoy also gives us a lot of detail regarding Canadian history and its politic affairs, especially in regards to slavery. I thought this was a nice touch by McCoy and definitely added to the story. I had little prior knowledge about Canada's stance on the issue of slavery prior to the American Civil War, so it was interesting to see how it all played out.

If you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables, you won't want to miss Marilla's story in Marilla of Green Gables . It's the perfect heartwarming novel to cuddle up with this holiday season.

Are you a fan of Anne of Green Gables? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I love that the author is exploring Marilla's life pre-Anne, since when we meet her, she and Matthew are a bit older.

    1. Yes, if you are a fan of Marilla, you will love this book! It was great getting to experience more of her backstory --some of it they hinted in in Anne of Green Gables. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. I am probably the only person in the world who hasn't read Anne of Green Gables. But this one sounds like such a heartfelt and tender novel.

  3. You need to read Anne! It's so good. I think I may re-read some of the books soon - they are just so charming! Thanks for visiting, Joy!

  4. I think this sounds really good, I need to check it out!


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