Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. October 8th 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Spin-off from the Anne of Green Gables series.
Audience: L. M. Montgomery readers. Readers who enjoy the Anne of Green Gables series.
Rating: Okay to good.
1837. Avonlea, Prince Edward Island.
Marilla Cuthbert is age 13 when the story begins. Marilla is known in the Anne of Green Gables series as the sister of Matthew Cuthbert. They take-in orphaned Anne. They become Anne’s family.
Matthew and Marilla are lone siblings. Their parents have had other pregnancies and babies who were born, but none of them survived. Their mother is expecting again. She is older. She is tired during this pregnancy.
Marilla’s aunt, Izzy, her mother’s twin, comes to stay during the latter part of the pregnancy and afterwards. Izzy left the island years ago and lives in a large town. She is independent. She is a business woman.
The story follows most of the teenage years of Marilla. Later in the story it jumps to when she is a woman of 40.
There are things I like about the book and things I dislike about the book. I have mixed feelings about the story over-all. It has been difficult to decide the rating-if the book is an okay or good.
I want to first state I’ve read two books of L. M. Montgomery’s: Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. I’ve read enough to pick up on the personalities of the main characters.
When I read a book like Anne of Green Gables, I wonder what the other characters would be like if they had their own book-their own stories to explore. It’s been fun to read Marilla of Green Gables. Even if she is the creation of McCoy.
In the Anne of Green Gable series, Marilla, comes across as a no-nonsense, practical, stoic, uncomfortable with displays of affection, steadfast, committed, loyal, wants to do the right thing, loving even without displays of affection, comfortable in homemaking, and introverted.
On the back cover of Marilla of Green Gables, she is described as “plucky.” The definition of “plucky” is to be brave, courageous, bold, daring, fearless, and spirited. I do not envision Marilla as “plucky.” I picture her as a steadfast and stoic person. She is a person who does not smile, if at all. She is serious in composure. She is quiet. She is a person that others can depend on, and this includes to not be flighty and spirited. It is possible Marilla’s true character does not compose well for a published book. At least not in the eyes of some. For me, Marilla is a solid character. She is exactly who she is-no pretension. She is not a put-on. But she is not a source for a romantic themed story. I am taking in to consideration Marilla of Green Gables shows us what Marilla is like as a young person. But still. Marilla’s’ character will not have veered too off course in later life.
I feel the story tried to pin some themes that other types of historical fiction stories echo. These themes are romance, and history and politics of that era. In reality, Marilla may not have had either come into her life, especially the later theme. It feels like a far fetch.
On the topic of romance in fiction. Why? Why is it necessary to only display romantic love? I’ve said this before and I will say it again. There are different types of love and different levels of love. Love is important. Romantic love is sweet but not the end-all answer in real life nor in a fiction story. Why not have a story about a person’s love of helping others. For example, a person who remembers their neighbors in need to does whatever it takes to help them. A person who has devoted their life to caring for others to the point of servitude. A person who cares for their parents or a sibling or a friend. A person who adopts or fosters children. A person who adopts or fosters animals. All of these are real. They are admirable. They are read-worthy.
Izzy is the character that is “not like the others.” She is the set off to the side person who everyone observes but can’t quite understand. She is also a heroine. She left her life perse and came to help. This is a perfect demonstration of love in this book. Bravo.
It is sad that no one told Marilla, the young woman, to set aside her life is not the only answer. However, this is a demonstration of love in the book. She demonstrates love, compassion, and commitment to her father and brother.
The last part of the book seems to be a way of tidying up and closure for Marilla. There will not be a part two for her except in the Anne of Green Gables books.
Marilla of Green Gables shows the complexities and messy nature of life. This is truth. This is reality.