Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

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.

Kindle, 320 pages
Published October 23rd 2018
by William Morrow
****

What was Green Gables like before Anne showed up? How did it get the name Green Gables? Sarah McCoy answers these questions and more.  This is my second book by McCoy, The Mapmaker’s Children being my first.

It’s a gutsy move if you ask me to dive into the well-loved world of Green Gables. People adore Anne, Prince Edward Island is a favorited holiday destination for many fans and the following is enormous. But what about Matthew and Marilla, wouldn’t it be great to know their story? That’s exactly what the author did here.

The story of Marilla, Green Gables, and Matthew, told in a voice true to the feel of Anne's stories and I really enjoyed reading it.  I was transported to Avonlea with its charm, traditions and enticing scenery.  Told from Marilla's point of view, and beginning when she is only 13 years old, I was able to connect and watch her grow.  Life wasn't easy during that time period as political strife affected this little island also.  What I loved also was St. Catharines being the home for Aunt Izzy, that's where I live (well really close) and the historical elements here have me looking into the local history.

I loved the author's note at the end, what prompted her to write this book, the research and respect she paid to the community and legacy of Anne are evident.

Definitely a book I recommend to fans of Anne of Green Gables and even those that aren't (I'll confess I've only read the first book in series).  Thanks to the publisher for an advanced copy (via Edelweiss) in exchange for honest review.

click on cover for my review

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