November 2018 Indie Next List
“Many of us who grew up with Anne of Green Gables always wondered why neither Marilla or her brother, Matthew, married; we were also very curious as to what secret Marilla held in her heart regarding John Blythe. Now, Sarah McCoy answers these questions for us in her new book, Marilla of Green Gables. She begins the story when Marilla is only 13 and continues until just before Anne comes to Green Gables. This book is wonderfully and imaginatively written, a rendering that Lucy Maud Montgomery herself would approve of. McCoy brings Marilla to life and helps us understand how she became the woman she did. A must-read for all those who love Anne of Green Gables.”
— Pat Trotter, Bookends On Main, Menomonie, WI
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 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.
About the Author
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.
“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.”
— Sue Monk Kidd
“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.”
— Allison Pataki, New York Times Bestselling Author
“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.”
— Madeline Miller, Author of Circe
“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.”
— M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestseller
“Heartfelt and endearing, the tale of Green Gables will have you devouring this story in one sitting.”
“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?”
— Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours