Another girl once came of age at Green Gables. Spunky, smart, buffeted by tides of duty and ambition, loss and love, young Marilla finds her voice in Sarah McCoy’s beautiful rendering of a beloved place, a complex woman, and a long-ago time. Deftly and tenderly told, Marilla of Green Gables is a must read for anyone who adored Avonlea and Anne and ever wondered, what came before?
Sarah McCoy has given readers a precious gift: the opportunity to step back into the world of Avonlea, and the chance to get to know Marilla Cuthbert as a leading lady in her own right. In McCoy’s skillful and sensitive hands, Marilla emerges as a heroine of depth, complexity, and heart. I savored my time with this cast of old friends, enjoying the dilemma of whether to speed through these compelling pages or to pause and relish everything about the lovely world imagined within them.
Heartfelt and endearing, the tale of Green Gables will have you devouring this story in one sitting.
A pitch perfect love letter to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Green Gables. Even if you weren’t an ardent fan, you’ll still want to read this book. Marilla is a loving, captivating fictional portrait of a woman and a time that is well worth escaping to. A beautiful, heart rending story, a wonderful novel.
Prepare to meet Marilla, a captivating heroine who will transport you back to the treasured world of Anne of Green Gables. Rich in historical detail, this charming novel vividly explores love, loss, friendship, and the coming-to-self of a girl on the cusp of womanhood.
Fans of the Anne of Green Gables series will rejoice at this warm and heartfelt addition to their world. McCoy’s love for the characters is palpable, and with an insightful eye she illuminates the original Avonlea, while also offering glimpses into the turbulent history of the time.
L.M. Montgomery’s Marilla Cuthbert flares to life in Sarah McCoy’s enchanting novel of Avonlea. Her story of wrenching family sacrifice and the enduring pleasures of home, is as much a love letter to the world of Green Gables as it is a breath of fresh air. Hats off to McCoy for enlivening this classic with such heart and grace.
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
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, Marilla—and 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 Izzy—who fled Prince Edward Island to become a successful dressmaker in the city—gently 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.