Mary’s Book Review: The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
How Much Do I Love This Book? It might be my very favorite L.M. Montgomery work. For those that know me, that says A LOT.
Book Jacket: At twenty-nine Valancy had never been in love, and it seemed romance had passed her by. Living with her overbearing mother and meddlesome aunt, she found her only consolations in the “forbidden” books of John Foster and her daydreams of the Blue Castle. Then a letter arrived from Dr. Trent — and Valancy decided to throw caution to the winds. For the first time in her life Valancy did and said exactly what she wanted. Soon she discovered a surprising new world, full of love and adventures far beyond her most secret dreams.
Review: This book differs from many of L.M. Montgomery’s better known works in that it was written for an adult audience. It is marketed to kids today, but I do think this is one that older readers may enjoy for its own sake and not just for the nostalgia factor.
The Blue Castle refers to Valancy “Doss” Sterling’s dream world. Like every L.M. Montgomery character she has a very active imaginary life. More so than some like my beloved Anne-With-An-E (will it ever be possible to think of that name in the same way again? Or spell it otherwise?!), she has this imaginary life because she needs it, not because she enjoys it. In some respects, including in this one, the book is like an adult version of Jane of Lantern Hill. Valancey is under-appreciated and trapped, only instead of escaping to Prince Edward Island and a dad she never knew, she escapes to the island of Mistawis and the arms of Barney Snaith. (that’s obviously my highlight version, Montgomery’s isn’t so overtly racy, but that does about sum it up!)
She grows the backbone to make this escape when she is misdiagnosed with terminal heart disease and told she only has one year to live. At 29, over the hill in Montgomery-land, she decides she wants to really LIVE for the first time and events unfold from there!
Unresolved-But-Possibly-Resolved Sexual Tension? Ah Barney Snaith. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. What other man would accept an abrupt marriage proposal from a confirmed spinster in Montgomery-land? What other man would fully appreciate our Valancy? What other man would be happy to be used in such a way? (Wait, let’s not answer the last question, it just starts to sound bad…) From his reddish hair and peaked eyebrows to his perfect prose-spouting mouth, right along with Valancey, I love Barney. Maybe even more than Gilbert Blythe? Ooooh I went there.
Re-readability: Fantastic! This book is always there for me in my time of Canadian-woodsy-romance-need!
Recommended for: Fans of RILLA, another more grown-up Montgomery book. Romantics and nature-lovers.
If You Enjoyed This Book You Should Also Check Out: The aforementioned Jane of Lantern Hill for similar plot elements (sans romance) or Rilla of Ingleside (after reading all 7 previous Anne books, obvs) for another more mature romance. Perhaps also A Tangled Web, another stand-alone adult L.M. Montgomery book.