The Blue Castle
by L.M. Montgomery
Published on April 1st 1988
by Seal Books
Genres: Adult, Romance
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Valancy lives a drab life with her overbearing mother and prying aunt. Then a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Trent prompts her to make a fresh start. For the first time, she does and says exactly what she feels. As she expands her limited horizons, Valancy undergoes a transformation, discovering a new world of love and happiness. One of Lucy Maud Montgomery's only novels intended for an adult audience, The Blue Castle is filled with humour and romance.
Once upon a time, when I was young, I read the Anne of Green Gables series. I hope that you too enjoyed this wonderful series… I digress, anyway I saw a recent review of The Blue Castle and I was so intrigued that I purchase it and read it right away. Oh my goodness, what a gem!
Valancy (don’t you love that name!) is turning 29, an old maid, that leaves with her oppressing and unloving mother and aunt. I felt so bad for her! They call her ‘Doss’, which she hates and they are poor and follow a stupid schedule. She has to eat at the same times every day, she cannot be in her room by herself, she has to ask permission to leave the house, and she has to endure the not-so-gentle buying and prying of her very big extended family.
“And Valancy had long ago decided that she would rather offend God than Aunt Wellington, because God might forgive her but Aunt Wellington never would.”
Valancy is having chest pains and when she secretly goes to see Dr. Trent, the local heart expert, she receives a letter telling her that she has at most, a year to leave. She realizes very suddenly that she has spend 29 years in misery, unloved, resentful, and worse of all, bottling up all her feelings. To escape this awful situation, she creates an imaginary Blue Castle that is beautiful and in which she can do whatever she wants.
Valancy was very bitter and I was a bit ambivalent about her at the beginning, but then she throws caution and to the wind and starts doing what she wants and living. That alone deserves an award, it took guts to defy convention and prejudice and leave her house as an unmarried lady in the early 1900s. Hers in one of the best characters development ever.
“Just to love! She did not ask to be loved. It was rapture enough just to sit there beside him in silence, alone in the summer night in the white splendor of moonshine, with the wind blowing down on them out of the pine woods.”
Valancy goes to care for a sick friend from school and her drunk father and gets to know Barney Snaith, a mysterious recluse that owns his own small island by the lakes. She falls in love with him and when her friends passes away, Valancy shares her secret with Barney and proposes to have very short marriage with him. It is in Barney’s island that she finds her Blue Castle. A carefree existence in an idyllic paradise, friendship and companionship.
“If you can sit in silence with a person for half an hour and yet be entirely comfortable, you and that person can be friends. If you cannot, friends you’ll never be and you need not waste time in trying.”
I really liked Barney and the simple life he shared and provided for Valancy. Free of judgement, buying, offering all he had and all he knew. He loved the wilderness, he’s adverse to civilization and he has secrets. It all makes sense at the end. I just loved him.
The writing is both funny, light and lyrical. SO beautiful. There is a lot of nature, and exploring in the book, but there’s also a lot of twists and turns and an amazing ending for sure.
“Then the immortal heart of the woods will beat against ours and its subtle life will steal into our veins and make us its own forever, so that no matter where we go or how widely we wander we shall yet be drawn back to the forest to find our most enduring kinship.”
The Blue Castle is an amazing story of love, friendship, the power to grow, to be more, to be happy and how grab life with both hands. A new favorite.