Marilla of Green Gables

Anyone who knows me would know that there would never been any question of me grabbing this advanced copy when it came in at work. If it’s related to Anne, I’m all over it.

Sarah McCoy’s interest in Marilla’s young life was piqued by one passing sentence in one of the later chapters, where Marilla talks to Anne about John Blythe and how people used to call him her beau. From there, McCoy let her imagination go.

Marilla is 13 years old, doing her best to help her pregnant mother when her aunt whirls into town. At first, Marilla feels threatened, but soon, she’s got more to do in her free time than needlework. Between her new best friend, Rachel White and her uncertain relationship with John Blythe, Marilla has to find her own way through life.

As the years go by, Marilla takes on responsibilities within Avonlea and finds herself involved with things much bigger than she ever would have imagined. But as life goes in, Marilla gets set in her ways, and soon it seems like life might pass her by.

In some ways, McCoy’s story felt like an alternate retelling of Anne’s story. Marilla doesn’t start out as a prickly old woman. Once upon a time, she was an imaginative little girl, or so McCoy imagines. But we see how life circumstances work with her own choices to shape Marilla into the woman she becomes.

My one issue with McCoy’s story is that it doesn’t satisfactorily deal with Marilla’s answer when Anne asks what happened: that she and John Blythe quarreled and she wouldn’t forgive him when he asked her to. In McCoy’s telling, they are both stuck in their pride and neither does much to try to repair the relationship. I’d always imagined the scene being quite literally what Marilla said (after it, she’s become a quite literal old woman).

But other than that one little thing (kind of big thing, since it’s what the story is all about), I enjoyed McCoy’s take on young Marilla’s life. The character of Matthew was perfectly captured, as was the future Rachel Lynde. And for the most part, one can easily believe that Marilla Cuthbert was once the young woman McCoy depicts.

So if you’re a fan of all things Anne, and you don’t mind creative liberty, and you’re not stuck on the way your childhood brain always pictured things, McCoy’s Marilla of Green Gables is worth the wait. Because you won’t get to read it until October.

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