Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
Prequel to the Anne of Green Gables books, McCoy has imagined the early years of one of the most beloved characters from the Anne books. She especially focuses on the allusion to Marilla having had a relationship with John Blythe, Gilbert Blythe's father, and how it could have played out and had a lasting impact on the development of Marilla's character. As a huge Anne fan, I was so excited to read this book. In fact, when I found out I was having a girl with my first pregnancy, I immediately started planning on taking her on a trip to the Anne of Green Gables festival on Prince Edward Island when she was old enough.
Having only read positive reviews of the book, and having loved Marilla for so many years myself, I completely expected to love this book, but sadly, I didn't. Some of the ways McCoy depicted Marilla felt very accurate, and I could see Marilla in them through and through. But other times, I felt that she deviated wildly from the Marilla that we know from the Anne books, and I found myself shaking my head and scoffing as I said time and time again, "No way." I enjoy personality theory, and took a writing course last winter where the teacher told us that using personality typing can be helpful in making your characters seem like actual people. As the parts of the book came up where I felt Marilla wasn't being true to her portrayal in the other books, I realized that part of my problem with McCoy's Marilla was that her personality type was inconsistently presented. The Marilla character deviated from the way someone with her personality type would act or view situations and it made her character feel jarring and unrealistic. I also disliked that McCoy created such a deep relationship between Marilla and John Blythe. In my opinion, it far exceeded what was portrayed in the Anne books or what would have been appropriate for the time period. Also, the amount of travel Marilla went on in this book as well as her involvement in the abolitionist cause felt way off course for me. It saddened my heart greatly to be so disappointed in a book I had looked so forward to reading. I appreciate McCoy's imagining of Marilla's life. I've often imagined some spin-off Avonlea tales myself, and can imagine that creating this story brought her great joy. I certainly wouldn't say that this is a must read for any Anne lover, but if you are an Anne lover, you may want to give it a go.