I've been a lifelong fan of Anne of Green Gables, I was six years old the first time I saw the 1985 film adaption on PBS, when I was eight my whole family listened to the audio while on a road trip, and when I was about ten I read the entire original series. So when I saw this book on my library's list of new books, I knew I had to read it. Marilla has always been my one of my favorite characters of the series, and though L.M. Montgomery told many a story about the many other residents of Avonlea in her collected short stories, she never wrote more about Marilla's past and younger life than what is hinted at in the original series.
Marilla is the responsible and level-headed, dutiful daughter, with a gift in the kitchen and a generous heart. She becomes fast friends with Rachel White, and catches the eye of farmer's son, John Blythe. When tragedy befalls the Cuthbert family, Marilla must grow up fast taking on the household responsibilities, sacrificing some of her dreams, while finding purpose in serving others.
I loved this book so much more than I thought I would, it's hard to know with prequels to such beloved favorites if the author will do justice to the people that you know and love, and all of what they became, but I feel that Ms. McCoy rises to the occasion with this memorable prequel exploring the earlier life of Marilla Cuthbert. I felt very much that this book honored the original series, staying true, yet showing a glimpse more of what Marilla, Matthew, John and Rachel were in their youths. I especially liked how Rachel was portrayed in her youth, matter-of-fact as ever, yet lighter and more carefree, a faithful friend to Marilla.
Marilla and John's romance was handled well, and though we know how it ends, it was no less true, and shines with hope despite their obstacles, setting the stage for the future. John is a good hearted man, he is kind and selfless, smart and forthright, though mule-headed at times, just like Marilla.
Overall, if you are a fan of L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables this is worth a read, I think that you will be pleasantly surprised as I was, enchanted once again by the beauty of Prince Edward Island. Marilla of Green Gables stays true to the spirit of the original, taking a deeper look at Marilla before Anne Shirley came into her and Matthew's life. A savory delight that I enjoyed to the last, it fits well with the original series, and is a treat that you won't want to miss!