Title: Marilla of Green Gables
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: October 23, 2018
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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."
My Two Cents:
Growing up, I was a huge Anne of Green Gables fan. I loved those books so much! Not only did I love Anne but I loved all the secondary characters to include staid Marilla, who took Anne in and was hard on her but truly loved her. When I heard about "Marilla of Green Gables," I was all over it. I wanted to dive in to this back story of one of the beloved series of my childhood.
This was a treat! McCoy gives Marilla a rich back story so that we can understand who she became in the Anne of Green Gables series and how she changed since she was younger. We get to see her hopes and dreams and her fears. One of the most striking things to me is how the author gave Marilla echoes of Anne and made the two of them seem that they may not be quite so different after all.
I also liked seeing Green Gables at a different point in time. In the original series, the setting almost feels like another character. It was interesting to see what it was like when Marilla was younger and also to see some familiar characters (or at least familiar families) in the book such as Marilla's love interest John Blythe (that last name rings a bell, no?).
Taking familiar characters and breathing new life into them in a book like this is always a gamble. You run the risk of people not liking how you wrote a beloved character. In this case, I think McCoy does a great job of sticking to the essence of Marilla and creating a lovely companion to the Anne of Green Gables series.