Why a devoted Anne of Green Gables fan wanted to tell the story of Marilla

Marilla of Green Gables is a new novel that tells the story of Marilla, years before Anne Shirley.

Sarah McCoy says she always wondered about Marilla's life before Anne Shirley

U.S. author Sarah McCoy will be in Charlottetown on Saturday for the launch of Marilla of Green Gables. (Angela Walker/CBC)

As a lifelong devotee of Anne of Green Gables, Sarah McCoy was always curious about that "juicy, ripe piece of fruit" Lucy Maud Montgomery leaves hanging on her readers.

Wait, what? John Blythe was Marilla's beau?

"I always got hung up on that couple little lines in the very first book of the eight-book series and I always remembered that and dreamt on it and thought, 'What happened?'" McCoy said in an interview on Mainstreet P.E.I.

"Suddenly you see Marilla in a new light."

So when McCoy, a best-selling author who lives in North Carolina, was asked by her editor "what would make your heart sing to write," Marilla's story was the first thing that came to mind.

Wrote final chapter on P.E.I.

The result is Marilla of Green Gables, a novel released this month by HarperCollins. McCoy will be in Charlottetown this weekend for the first stop on her book tour.

[Anne] was the girl that Montgomery maybe wished she had been or wished she could have been, but I think Marilla was the one she was.— Sarah McCoy

It'll be one year since she visited P.E.I. for the first time. She wrote the last chapter of the book and the prologue while on the Island. After her experience on P.E.I., she also rewrote some earlier passages.

"I went back through all that I had written, the whole book, and I laced in even more detail that I had experienced," she said. "I came into this book wanting to be genuine to every part that Lucy Maud Montgomery created and initiated. She loved Prince Edward Island. That was the foundation for her creative wellspring."

McCoy believes Montgomery was more like Marilla than she was Anne.

"I think Marilla was really a closer part of her and probably Anne was the dream. She was the girl that Montgomery maybe wished she had been or wished she could have been, but I think Marilla was the one she was."

Same names as Montgomery's parents

It's no coincidence that in the book, Marilla's parents have the same name as Montgomery's parents..

"I thought it was important for Lucy Maud Montgomery's spirit to be a part of this," McCoy said.

McCoy will be at Bookmart in Charlottetown on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.


  • An earlier version of this story said L.M. Montgomery's mother died in childbirth. In fact, she died of tuberculosis.
    Oct 29, 2018 11:21 AM AT