Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her beloved mother dies in childbirth. Suddenly she 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. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth "Izzy" Johnson, whose talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business in St. Catherines and make her own way in the world.
Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe offers her a possibility of future happiness, but Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. When she finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics and abolition, she 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.
This bold and absorbing story of Green Gables before Anne explores some of the Canadian Maritimes' unique history.