Journey Back to Avonlea with ‘Marilla of Green Gables’ [REVIEW]

Horse in snow

Life at Green Gables can be snowy and cold during the long winter months. (Photo courtesy Canva)

For everyone who fell in love with Anne, journey back to Prince Edward Island’s beloved Avonlea, a place of myth and legend, and discover what transpired there long before we ever encountered L.M. Montgomery’s enigmatic orphan. Meet the woman who ultimately adopted Anne, Marilla of Green Gables, in Sarah McCoy’s enchanting new prequel to the classic series. 


William Morrow

While many 13-year-old girls have little responsibility in life, Marilla Cuthbert’s lot is weightier than most. Suddenly the resourceful and spirited girl must run Green Gables with her father and brother, and it is a task which will test her mettle.

Thankfully she has her mother’s sister, Elizabeth Johnson, to help guide her into womanhood. Farming is a life most girls born into it seldom escape, so her aunt’s tales of life in the big city buoy Marilla’s dreams. Aunt Izzy is a woman of independent means, a fact which emboldens Marilla as she grows into womanhood.

Eventually, Marilla establishes a life beyond Green Gables, one rife with potential and populated by new people. She joins the Laidies’ Aid Society and raises funds for a nearby orphanage. But children aren’t the only people the Sisters of Charity offer shelter to. They also help runaway slaves making their escape from America. 

Meanwhile, romance blossoms between Marilla and a neighbor’s charismatic son, John Blythe, and suddenly the future is full of promise. But her dangerous political endeavors threaten to ruin everything she holds dear until she must decide between chasing dreams in the vast world beyond the farm and the reality she has always known at Green Gables.

In recent years, both in books and in film, there has been an insurgence in prequels which provide the backstory for famous characters culled from some of our most cherished tales. While some have been brilliantly executed (Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, for example), others have fallen quite flat. So it was with trepidation that I read Sarah McCoy’s latest, Marilla of Green Gables. I need not have feared.

Here she casts light on the irascible woman who eventually adopted Anne and stitches together a patchwork quilt from the pieces of detail Montgomery strew throughout her series. The result is a novel that is authentic to the source material, which adds new layers to the title character and fleshes out previously anecdotal specifics. Therefore, while some aspects of the story come as no surprise, including the inevitable results of her own love story, others prove quite captivating and make us want to stay in Avonlea indefinitely.

If you grew up reading the original series, don’t hesitate to pick up this appealing new story in the Avonlea canon. Not only is McCoy a worthy successor to Montgomery, but she handles the characters with reverence and admiration, and thus delivers a novel that transports us one more time to a treasured landscape filled with love and lots of fond memories.

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Sarah McCoy

Sarah McCoy
(Photo by Emily Martin)


Sarah McCoy is the New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of the novels The Mapmaker’s ChildrenThe 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.

To find out more about Sarah, connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Readers may also visit her website at

By Sarah McCoy
320 pp. William Morrow. $15.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase Marilla of Green Gables at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

Marilla of Green Gables is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Journey Back to Avonlea with ‘Marilla of Green Gables’ [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Sarah McCoy, author of Marilla of Green Gables, on tour October 2019 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Sara Strand says:

    I’m so glad fans of the original can get into this one easily! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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