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"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, November 5, 2018

2018 Book 430: MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES by Sarah McCoy

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
ISBN: 9780062697714 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062697738 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062866943 (audiobook)
ASIN: B077S3694H (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 23, 2018 
Publisher: William Morrow 


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.


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Many of us read the Anne of Green Gables series and fell just a little bit in love with the sibling Cuthberts, Marilla and Matthew, when they took an orphaned young girl into their home. With Marilla of Green Gables author Sarah McCoy provides a fascinating glimpse into the possible backstory of Marilla Cuthbert. The reader is initially introduced to the middle-aged Cuthberts in the late 19th century just before they take in the orphan Anne Shirley. The story quickly jumps back to the early 19th century when Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years of age, newly taken out of school to assist at home with her pregnant mother. She's a bit wary at first when her Aunt Elizabeth "Izzy" Johnson arrives, especially when she notes that her mother and Izzy are twins. She quickly overcomes her wariness and grows close to her Aunt and enjoys her company. Marilla is beginning to come out of her shell and befriends Rachel White and becomes enamored with John Blythe. Then tragedy befalls the Cuthbert family when the matriarch, Clara Cuthbert dies after delivering a stillborn son. Marilla is heartbroken and has to quickly adjust to becoming the "woman" of the household when her Aunt Izzy leaves to return to St. Catherine's. Marilla goes through many changes over the years but makes every attempt to retain her ties with kin and friend. Sadly, things don't always go as we like or expect in life and Marilla is once again disappointed in her relationship, or at least that with John Blythe. 

I found Marilla of Green Gables to be a fast-paced, engrossing, and engaging read of times gone past in a household I had come to love. It was rather exciting to get to know Ms. McCoy's reveal of how Marilla and even Matthew Cuthbert came to live alone in Green Gables. These siblings have been much loved via the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery but they were generally secondary characters to Anne Shirley. In this book, the reader gets to bear witness to the changing political climate in Canada as well as the coming-of-age of Marilla. We see her initially as a loving, giving, and hardworking teenaged young lady albeit timid in most social environments. She grows into a loving, giving, and hardworking woman who is not afraid to take a stand in what she believes in even if it means she may be sacrificing her future happiness. Marilla's growth is partially due to the encouragement she receives from her Aunt Izzy and due to her innate desire to do what is right no matter what. I enjoyed reading about what was going on in Canada during the early 19th century. It was also interesting to witness the growth of Marilla, her friendships, and see the changes that led to her life with her brother Matthew. Their father, Hugh, was an invisible and silent influence on their lives but had a lasting impact. Obviously, there's a lot more going in this story, but if I revealed everything you wouldn't need to read it at all. I will say this, if you've read any of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series OR read any previous books written by Ms. McCoy, then you'll definitely want to grab a copy of Marilla of Green Gables to read. If you haven't read any of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series, don't worry, you can still read Marilla of Green Gables and enjoy it especially if you're a reader of historical fiction. After reading Marilla of Green Gables I think I need to make time to reread the Anne of Green Gables series just so I can revisit the Cuthberts as well as their friends and neighbors in Avonlea. 

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Meet the author

Photo by Emily Martin

Sarah McCoy is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the novels The Mapmaker's Children; The Baker's Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award nominee; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English and writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilbert, in North Carolina.



Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, on Instagram at @sarahmmccoy, or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.


This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours


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2 comments:

  1. Marilla was always one of my favorite characters in the original books.
    Thanks for being on the tour!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love Anne of Green Gables so much, and I'm so glad you enjoyed this book!

    Thank you for being on this tour!

    ReplyDelete