by Sarah McCoy
William Morrow (HarperCollins), 2018. 300 pages.
Review written July 4, 2019, from my own copy, a birthday present from my sister Becky
This book came out toward the end of 2018, when I was in the thick of reading for the Newbery, and couldn’t possibly get to it. After the winner was chosen, I’d forgotten about it, so I was completely delighted when my sister sent it to me for my birthday. The gift was all the more perfect because I’m planning to go with two girlfriends to visit Prince Edward Island in the Fall, and I’ve been rereading all my L. M. Montgomery books in preparation. One of those girlfriends was at my house on my birthday when I opened the gift. So the timing was perfect to read this prequel to Anne of Green Gables.
Sarah McCoy takes us into the heart of Marilla. We see her as a young teen living with her parents and her older brother Matthew. The author gave Marilla’s parents the same names as L. M. Montgomery’s parents, Clara and Hugh, in a nice act of tribute.
Clara is expecting a baby, and her twin, Marilla’s Aunt Izzy comes to stay and to help. When both mother and baby are lost, Marilla must carry on, taking care of Matthew and Hugh.
But it’s delightful getting a glimpse into Avonlea in the years before Anne. Marilla’s friendship with Rachel started when they were young, and we hear many more names that will be in the village in later years. Yes, we knew that John Blythe had been Marilla’s beau, and we get the story of their quarrel.
A part of the story that surprised me was when Green Gables becomes a safe haven for runaway slaves, under the protection of Izzy. I hadn’t realized that slave catchers could even come into Canada looking for them. There is also some political unrest in Canada at that time, which I’d known nothing about.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It’s a gentle story, a story of a reserved young woman growing up in a small village in Canada in the 1800s. She’s living a quiet life, and love seems to pass her by. At the end of the book, they think that Matthew could use some help on the farm….
This was perfect preparation for a visit to Prince Edward Island, and I heartily recommend it for all other Anne fans out there. The style isn’t the same as L. M. Montgomery’s, but it made me feel I understood Marilla better than when I had only seen her through the eyes of a precocious orphan.
Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/marilla_of_green_gables.html
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