Published by William Morrow on October 23, 2018
Source: the publisher
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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.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS! With fictional couples and stories, Anne of Green Gables is IT for me. There is no story I love more, especially when we start talking about the romance of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. When I saw that Marilla Cuthbert was getting a chance to tell her story, I was equal parts excited and nervous, but I definitely wanted to read it. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy explores the “what if” between Marilla Cuthbert (Anne’s eventual guardian) and John Blythe (Gilbert’s father), and OH MY GOSH.
Right away when I started reading, I fell into Avonlea and Green Gables. The book begins with a very young Marilla is just thirteen years old. Green Gables is being built. Getting a glimpse into her life as a teen – and sweet Matthew’s life! – is awesome. Marilla is cooking and keeping house, Matthew is working outside with their father. Marilla hasn’t experienced enough of life to become quite so clipped and tough-natured yet, but Matthew is just as quiet as ever. One of the most wonderful parts of witnessing their young years is experiencing the love these siblings have for their parents. The way Marilla loves her mother stands out to me because I can now see how it affects her throughout the entirety of this story and throughout her time in the original series.
There are some heartwarming times throughout the story but MY GOSH there is also some big heartache in here. If you are familiar with the original series at all, you already know how this story ends. I knew that Matthew’s relationship would break my heart and that Marilla’s would too but I had no idea how much. We’re talking tears-I couldn’t help it! But even while my heart was breaking, it was so great to hear Marilla’s story.
I loved this so much. I feel like tinkering with really solid, much-loved stories can be a gamble, but I think this is a good one! I can understand the trepidation for other fans like myself, but I do feel like reading this is time well-spent to be able to explore Marilla’s story, her relationship with her good friend Rachel, and of course more of dear, sweet, precious Matthew’s life. Reading this one reminded me of reading Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller. (I loved that one too, so much.) I never felt like Ms. McCoy was trying to write exactly like L.M. Montgomery or add on to the original series exactly or anything like that. Instead, I think she’s made Avonlea a little larger for us.
I want to listen to this on audiobook! I see that Cassandra Campbell does the narration on this and I love her work. I can imagine that every emotion that I felt while reading with my eyes would be bigger and more if I listened.