Monday, October 29, 2018

Review: Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Title: Marilla of Green Gables
Author: Sarah McCoy
Published: October 2018, William Morrow
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

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.

My thoughts: I was so excited to have picked this book up at BookExpo this past Spring. The Anne of Green Gables series has long been my favorite book series - I still own my original set from my childhood and have purchased a second set that was recently released a few years back because of the beautiful artwork on the covers. This is a series that I cannot get enough of, so of course I could not pass the opportunity to read this book of Marilla Cuthbert before Anne Shirley comes to Green Gables.

This book just made my heart happy. It is told from Marilla's point of view and I felt that Sarah McCoy really told this book in L.M. Montgomery's spirit - she really did her homework. I loved getting to see just how Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert were in their younger years, as well as some of the other much beloved characters of Avonlea - Rachel (Lind) and John Blythe (Gilbert Blythe's father).  

This book really showcases just how strong and remarkable a woman Marilla truly is. She definitely did not have an easy life. It was marked with tragedy at a young age, but she remained strong, not only for her family, but for herself. Her love for her family comes first, as she proves over and over again. 

I think what really shines here is that we come to appreciate why Marilla and Matthew are the way they are. We learn why Matthew is the silent and shy person he is in the LM Montgomery books. Sarah McCoy has created a backstory that builds over time and makes sense as to why Matthew is still living at the farm and still a bachelor. Same with Marilla. She has gone through some transformations, she has loved, yet she is also not married. Sarah McCoy has given us the reasons for this. She has given us the reasons why Marilla feels she needs to stay at Green Gables.

I loved this book. It was a book that I wanted not to end, but also a book that has me yearning to reread my Anne of Green Gables series now. I also love that in the Author's Note at the end of the book, Sarah McCoy shares what sparked this book...a mystery within chapter 37 of Anne of Green Gables. You'll have to pick up the book to find out what it is. But, rest assured this book is the perfect answer to that mystery and I adored spending time in Avonlea and at Green Gables again. This book is certainly going to be added to my collection of Anne of Green Gables books and will be most cherished!  



  1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed this book. I like the idea of the backstory to Anne of Green Gables series. Lovely review, Kristin!

  2. You have so sold this book to me. I adore Marilla (and her brother). Cant wait to read it.

  3. I have this reserved at the library when my turn arrives. Happy to hear you loved it.


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