Marilla of Green Gables A novel

Sarah McCoy, 1980-

Book - 2018

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 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.--Amazon.

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1st Floor FICTION/McCoy, Sarah Checked In
Historical fiction
Romance fiction
New York : William Morrow [2018]
Main Author
Sarah McCoy, 1980- (author)
First edition
Item Description
"This novel ... is my invention of Marilla Cuthbert and the foundation of Green Gables before Anne Shirley arrived ...." -- author's note, page [293].
Physical Description
xii, 300 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

In this prequel to Lucy Maud Montgomery's beloved Anne of Green Gables (1908), McCoy (The Mapmaker's Children , 2015) explores what life might have been like for Marilla Cuthbert when she was Anne's age. Not yet the strict but secretly soft-hearted kindred spirit who won her way into readers' hearts, this Marilla puzzles over social niceties, pursues a romance with Gilbert Blythe's father, and helps runaway slaves find sanctuary in Canada. Smart, sensible, and dedicated to her family, Marilla takes care of the loved ones around her and does what she feels is right. Anne aficionados will get a kick out of seeing Avonlea's eccentric cast in their youth, especially Matthew, a bashful, hardworking farmer; Rachel Lynde (née White), a pleasant chatterbox with a fondness for sweets; and John Blythe, who is every bit as swoon-worthy as his son. McCoy captures the magic of Prince Edward Island, describing the changing seasons in lovely prose. Hard-core fans might not agree with all of McCoy's creative choices, but they will appreciate the way she reexamines characters they thought they knew so well.--Biz Hyzy Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

For Anne of Green Gables fans who always wondered about Marilla Cuthbert's long-ago romance with a Cuthbert boy, this well-researched historical novel will satisfy their every longing. McCoy captures the dry wit, warm honesty, and strong sense of duty of the elderly woman from L.M. Montgomery's Canadian classic, while imbuing this tale with its own unforgettable characters and adventure. Marilla is barely a teen when her mother passes away from complications at childbirth and she has to take up the mantle of "lady of the house." McCoy explores the limitations on women at the time, the politics of a colony inching toward nationhood, and the abolition movement that Marilla eventually gets involved in with fascinating, nuanced detail. Fans of the source material will enjoy getting to meet familiar characters as young upstarts, especially Rachel Lynde and John Blythe. Echoes of the "Anne" books include references to old rivalries and friendships, but newcomers won't feel lost. The setting comes alive with every delicious meal, death-defying sickness, and richly described landscapes that would do Montgomery proud. There are some missteps as the author tries to present the Cuthberts as accepting of non-white people, but the enlightenment of the title character at the cost of fully realized secondary characters of color mars that aim. However, the interracial relationship featured in later chapters does feel authentic the plot development. VERDICT The bittersweet romance and family drama will engage fans of Green Gables and enchant historical fiction readers.-Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An imagined life of Marilla Cuthbert, of Green Gables fame.There's a line from Anne of Green Gables that author McCoy says has always stayed with her: When Marilla points out their neighbor John Blythe (father of Anne's beloved Gilbert) and says "We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau," Anne cries, "Oh, Marillaand what happened?" Fascinated by the question, McCoy answers it here with a rich, historically intense life for Marilla, beginning when she is 13; her mother is pregnant and her Aunt Izzy comes to help. The Cuthberts are quiet and retiring, so the arrival of Izzywho fled Prince Edward Island to become a successful dressmaker in the citygently pushes Marilla out of her isolation. Together they join a newly formed sewing circle in Avonlea, where Marilla meets her lifelong friend-to-be, Rachel, and through her meets John Blythe (though this is a bit of a stretch, because as a close longtime neighbor, wouldn't Marilla already know him?). Their attraction is immediate, but on the day John expresses his interest toward her, her mother and the baby die in childbirth, casting a shadow of guilt and pain over the experience. Courting is put on hold as the family regroups and Marilla feels obligated to take care of her father and older brother, Matthew, but a charitable visit to an orphanage in nearby Hopetown brings long-simmering national tensions home to Marilla, leading to a new direction in her life and an argument with John she can't seem to overcome. In fleshing out Marilla's story, McCoy weaves in fascinating historical details of Canada's religious and political tensions of the mid-19th century as well as the devastating legacy of slavery and an interesting contemplation of what might happen to survivors of the Underground Railroad once they hit Canada in the dangerous days before the American Civil War.As is often the question when reframing beloved fictional characters: Does it feel true? Readers will have to decide for themselves, but fashioning Marilla as a flawed hero of her times is a lovely tribute. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.