Writing about my L.M. Montgomery favourites a couple of weeks ago (here) had me wanting to pick up and read most of them again, and since the Blue Castle was right in front of me, I did just that. Written in 1926, the Blue Castle can be compared at some level with books like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodson Burnett, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, and LM Montgomery’s own, Jane of Lantern Hill (even perhaps, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), but with a difference. While for the characters in those books, it is the change of scene that triggers the change in their lives, in The Blue Castle, an event triggers the change, which then leads to a change of scene and more change, and though certainly not the most positive event, proves to be the magic that our heroine needs.

 Valancy Stirling is twenty-nine, unmarried and with no prospects of getting married either. She is drab looking, prone to colds, and lives a dreary life with a rather hard mother, and a not very companionable cousin. She has never had a moment of happiness in her life, for even the smallest joys seem to be snatched from her or she finds herself being told off for even wanting them. Her other, much wealthier relatives (she belongs to the ‘Deerwood Stirlings’) aren’t very much better (a lot worse actually), and her role seems most often to be to listen to their largely adverse comments and observations or to be at the receiving end of jokes; to add to her woes, she is constantly called ‘Doss’, a nickname she hates. Her only solace lies in books, nature books (for her mother wouldn’t permit her to read fiction) by John Foster and escape into the Blue Castle, a world in her imagination where she can be both free and happy. But the worst is, there seems no prospect for anything ever being different.

But when she visits a doctor, for once without her family’s knowing, over a complaint and receives some alarming news, rather than being alarmed, she feels freed—free of all the fears and inhibitions that were holding her back, and suddenly able to tell her family exactly what she feels about them, well, more or less. This freedom also means that she decides to live her life, for all she’s been doing so far is existing, and not very pleasantly at that. To the horror of her relations, she takes up a job, and then takes an even more shocking step. But for her this means finally getting to live her dream life, and find her Blue Castle.

Valancy may not sound the most attractive of characters to start with, but one feels a lot of sympathy for her right from the start. And when she finds herself free and able to deal with her family as she would like, one finds oneself cheering her on and laughing at the thought of the looks on her family’s faces when they hear the unexpected from her—one after another and another.  And with these changes she finally also finds some friends—people she likes and can talk to, even enjoys spending time with—rather than only those she’s simply been putting up with.

Like the other books I mentioned, and like most of LM Montgomery’s own books, nature of course has a role to play. When Valancy is living at home, she experiences it through the books of John Foster. But when she leaves home, she gets to experience it first hand, living on the banks of lake Mistawis, looking at the beauty all around her, a place where she can not only explore and spend time amidst nature, but have her Blue Castle, complete with cats!

This was a lovely read as always, though I felt as I did before that the ending (though I realise why it was how it was) was a touch melodramatic and even over the top, but still overall, a wonderful and cheerful read, about how anyone can have a little touch of magic in their lives, which can change it completely, and that perhaps even something not so wonderful could lead to something that is unexpectedly so!

p.s. This by the way is L.M. Montgmery’s one book that was meant for older readers.

Have you read this one? How did you find it? Did you like it as much as I did? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cover image: Goodreads

One thought on “Book Review: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.