Monday, October 22, 2018

"Marilla of Green Gables"

Sarah McCoy is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of Marilla of Green Gables; The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post, Read It Forward, Writer Unboxed, and other publications. She has taught English 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 Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

McCoy applied the Page 69 Test to Marilla of Green Gables and reported the following:
From page 69:
Matthew threw up his hands. “Aw, I ain’t no good at this!”

“That’s why we’re practicing,” Izzy said consolingly. “There aren’t any rules to it. Don’t think of it as something to be good or bad at. Courting isn’t anything ore than getting to know a person. So every time you step out with them, you’re discovering something new.”

“Like a newspaper story—telling what’s the news with each edition, right?” offered Marilla.

“Exactly,” said Izzy. “Like you’re curious to read the happenings, be curious about the person you’re courting.”

It made sense to Marilla, but Matthew still seemed perplexed.

“I dunno,” he said again.

“That’s the marvel of it, Matthew. You don’t have to know from the start. You can’t help falling in love any more than you can help breathing. It’ll come naturally enough.” Izzy smiled.

Marilla wondered if Izzy had courted with William Blair and, if so, what had made her change her mind about loving him. Or maybe falling in love and falling out worked instinctively the same. It didn’t seem a thing to ask, however.

“Even old Skunk has a sweetheart,” said Izzy. “Found himself a Molly in the barn. She’s a wild thing, though. Doubt she’ll stay through summer—too many chases to be had out in the world.”

Marilla scooped up Skunk and nestled him in the crook of her neck, ignoring his mews of protest. “Maybe if we give your girl some warm milk and sardines, she’ll stick around.”

“See now, that’s courting, Marilla!”

“Dunno if milk and sardines will work on Johanna,” said Matthew.

They laughed so hard together that Clara awoke upstairs in her bed and smiled.
This excerpt is from Chapter VII titled, “Aunt Izzy Gives A Lesson.” It’s a sweet scene wherein the worldly Aunt Izzy tries to help her adolescent niece and nephew, Matthew and Marilla, understand the ways of romance during the Victorian era. The two have been sheltered by their parent’s reserve and their own limited experiences in a small farming town (Avonlea) on a small island (Prince Edward Island).

The responsibility of family, nurturing the one you are born into and creating a new one with a spouse, is a major theme here and throughout the book. We all know how Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert’s story ends: neither marries but together they adopt the extraordinary orphan Anne Shirley. So this scene has a bittersweet echo toward that future. It provides readers with layered insight into these two characters’ hopes and dreams. And moreover, how different those end up being.

Overall, that’s one of the resounding messages of this novel—that life doesn’t always end up the way we thought it would. We’re only human, after all. We can’t plan or fashion fate into what we wish. Similarly, if one read Marilla of Green Gables looking for a different ending, he/she would only suffer heartache. For me, this book is a microcosm for our larger, real lives. It helped me to understand that it’s not the terminal destination that matters. It’s the journey we make as people, our development, the love we share, and the fingerprints we leave on history.
Learn more about the book and author at Sarah McCoy’s website, Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Sarah McCoy and Gilbert.

--Marshal Zeringue