Marilla of Green Gables

240p. Morrow. Oct. 2018. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9780062697714.
For Anne of Green Gables fans who always wondered about Marilla Cuthbert's long-ago romance with a Cuthbert boy, this well-researched historical novel will satisfy their every longing. McCoy captures the dry wit, warm honesty, and strong sense of duty of the elderly woman from L.M. Montgomery's Canadian classic, while imbuing this tale with its own unforgettable characters and adventure. Marilla is barely a teen when her mother passes away from complications at childbirth and she has to take up the mantle of "lady of the house." McCoy explores the limitations on women at the time, the politics of a colony inching toward nationhood, and the abolition movement that Marilla eventually gets involved in with fascinating, nuanced detail. Fans of the source material will enjoy getting to meet familiar characters as young upstarts, especially Rachel Lynde and John Blythe. Echoes of the "Anne" books include references to old rivalries and friendships, but newcomers won't feel lost. The setting comes alive with every delicious meal, death-defying sickness, and richly described landscapes that would do Montgomery proud. There are some missteps as the author tries to present the Cuthberts as accepting of non-white people, but the enlightenment of the title character at the cost of fully realized secondary characters of color mars that aim. However, the interracial relationship featured in later chapters does feel authentic the plot development.
VERDICT The bittersweet romance and family drama will engage fans of Green Gables and enchant historical fiction readers.

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