2018 Book 430: MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES by Sarah McCoy

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
ISBN: 9780062697714 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062697738 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062866943 (audiobook)
ASIN: B077S3694H (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 23, 2018 
Publisher: William Morrow 

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

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Many of us read the Anne of Green Gables series and fell just a little bit in love with the sibling Cuthberts, Marilla and Matthew, when they took an orphaned young girl into their home. With Marilla of Green Gables author Sarah McCoy provides a fascinating glimpse into the possible backstory of Marilla Cuthbert. The reader is initially introduced to the middle-aged Cuthberts in the late 19th century just before they take in the orphan Anne Shirley. The story quickly jumps back to the early 19th century when Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years of age, newly taken out of school to assist at home with her pregnant mother. She’s a bit wary at first when her Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson arrives, especially when she notes that her mother and Izzy are twins. She quickly overcomes her wariness and grows close to her Aunt and enjoys her company. Marilla is beginning to come out of her shell and befriends Rachel White and becomes enamored with John Blythe. Then tragedy befalls the Cuthbert family when the matriarch, Clara Cuthbert dies after delivering a stillborn son. Marilla is heartbroken and has to quickly adjust to becoming the “woman” of the household when her Aunt Izzy leaves to return to St. Catherine’s. Marilla goes through many changes over the years but makes every attempt to retain her ties with kin and friend. Sadly, things don’t always go as we like or expect in life and Marilla is once again disappointed in her relationship, or at least that with John Blythe. 

I found Marilla of Green Gables to be a fast-paced, engrossing, and engaging read of times gone past in a household I had come to love. It was rather exciting to get to know Ms. McCoy’s reveal of how Marilla and even Matthew Cuthbert came to live alone in Green Gables. These siblings have been much loved via the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery but they were generally secondary characters to Anne Shirley. In this book, the reader gets to bear witness to the changing political climate in Canada as well as the coming-of-age of Marilla. We see her initially as a loving, giving, and hardworking teenaged young lady albeit timid in most social environments. She grows into a loving, giving, and hardworking woman who is not afraid to take a stand in what she believes in even if it means she may be sacrificing her future happiness. Marilla’s growth is partially due to the encouragement she receives from her Aunt Izzy and due to her innate desire to do what is right no matter what. I enjoyed reading about what was going on in Canada during the early 19th century. It was also interesting to witness the growth of Marilla, her friendships, and see the changes that led to her life with her brother Matthew. Their father, Hugh, was an invisible and silent influence on their lives but had a lasting impact. Obviously, there’s a lot more going in this story, but if I revealed everything you wouldn’t need to read it at all. I will say this, if you’ve read any of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series OR read any previous books written by Ms. McCoy, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Marilla of Green Gables to read. If you haven’t read any of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series, don’t worry, you can still read Marilla of Green Gables and enjoy it especially if you’re a reader of historical fiction. After reading Marilla of Green Gables I think I need to make time to reread the Anne of Green Gables series just so I can revisit the Cuthberts as well as their friends and neighbors in Avonlea. 

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Meet the author

Photo by Emily Martin

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

Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, on Instagram at @sarahmmccoy, or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.

This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

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Marilla of Green Gables

Marilla of Green Gables








Marilla of Green Gables



The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy
ISBN: 978-0-307-46020-2
Publication date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naïve teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. But in the waning days of the Nazi empire, with food scarce and fears of sedition mounting, even the private yearnings of teenage girls were subject to suspicion and suppression. Elsie’s courtship by Josef Hub, a rising star in the Army of the Third Reich, has insulated her and her family from the terror and desperation overtaking her country. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door puts all she loves in danger. 

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is a rolling stone, perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a full-time fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba knows that in every good story, lines will be blurred. 

Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Elsie keeps turning the tables on Reba, and Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions have been a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive. 

It is perhaps human nature to believe that everyone that “supported” the Nazis were bad people. The truth is that many people were simply trapped in an environment where speaking out meant imprisonment, torture or death. Elsie’s family operated a bakery in Germany during the war and they were simply trying to survive along with others in their community. Elsie’s older sister had been taken into a “breeding” program and her sole purpose was to produce kids for the great Aryan nation. Elsie is left at home and as a teenager, she only wants to enjoy her teen years. Unfortunately she grows up fast when faced with unthinkable decisions, such as hide a young Jewish boy or report him in which case he’ll surely die. To say that Elsie’s life hasn’t been easy is somewhat of an understatement, but she perseveres and ultimately winds up married to an American GI. She relocates to the US and eventually has a daughter and builds a business baking all of the foods she fondly recalls from Germany.

Reba is only looking for a story on multi-cultural holiday celebrations when she enters Elsie’s bakery. Reba is happy with her relationship with Riki, a US Border Patrol agent, but she isn’t sure if she wants to marry him. Reba thinks she wants more from life than to stay in Texas and get married. It isn’t until she gets everything she wants that she realizes she prefers simplicity and misses the love of her life, Riki.

The Baker’s Daughter is about much more than survival. It’s about doing what feels right even if rules say it is wrong. Elsie faced this decision when she helped a young Jewish boy, feeding him, clothing him and ultimately helping him to escape. Riki faces a similar situation when dealing with families that are desperate to escape their lives in Mexico at any cost. Ms. McCoy has provided a stirring and heartfelt story with The Baker’s Daughter. This isn’t a fast read primarily because of the subject matter presented (World War II, anti-Semitism, illegal aliens, etc.), but it provides a thought-provoking albeit fictionalized glimpse into life that provided this reader with a slightly different perspective. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”