Book: The Blue Castle
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Series: Stand Alone
Category: Romance, 1920's
The Blue Castle had been sitting, unread, on my book shelf for close to a year before I finally cracked it open. Had I known what a beautiful story awaited me between the covers, I would have read it a long time ago.
Valancy Stirling has just reached her 29th birthday and has nothing to show for the years she has lived. She is unmarried, lives with her widowed mother and meddlesome cousin, bows to the whims of her overbearing extended family, and suffers a life of monotony. Her only retreat is into the day dreams of her Blue Castle, a place where Valancy is something more than dutiful daughter, cousin, niece, where she is happy and full of life, and she always has a beau, though his face has changed over the years. But outside of her Blue Castle dreams, Valancy mutely accepts that she will be alone forever and doesn't push her own boundaries, out of fear of upsetting her family.
Then her whole life suddenly changes when it rains on the day that Valancy is supposed to attend her Aunt's engagement picnic. This natural occurrence leads to a dramatic shift in Valancy's life. She decides to shirk responsibility to her clan and throw caution to the wind. Her actions shock her family and lead Valancy into a life that she had only dreamed of.
To say I loved this book would be putting it lightly. The Blue Castle was awesome! In the beginning chapters I was a little more than upset with Valancy for letting everyone around her treat her so badly. It is not that she is abused, but she is continually taken for granted, and looked at as a sort of blot on the family since she has never managed to find a man. Valancy has to deal with everyone fawning over her pretty cousin Olive, she has to laugh at her uncle's bad jokes, she must endure her mothers strict demands that are stifling the life out of Valancy, she must answer to a nickname that she hates but her family refuses to quit calling her by... When Valancy finally takes control of her life and says what she is really thinking to her family members, I cheered her on. Her family was left dumbfounded by this odd change in Valancy. "She's dippy--I tell you she's gone dippy," Her uncle declares at one point.
Valancy's family is left unsure of whether to commit her or to just wait it out and pray that she would come to her senses. Meanwhile, Valancy has gone off and started living. She leaves her mother's home for the first time, going to live with the town drunk and his dying daughter. She falls in love with the town mystery man, Barney Snaith, who is whispered to be every sort of evil known to man kind. He was the one main character that the reader never gets in the head of, so he is left a little ambiguous, but he is just so great. Barney is a woodsman who takes great pleasure in time spent outside exploring the forest. He admits that he doesn't love Valancy the way she loves him. This could deaden a story in one second flat, but the way Barney does it is just so darn endearing.
"Valancy," he said, trying to speak lightly, "of course I'm not in love with you-never thought of such a thing as being in love. But, do you know, I've always thought you were a bit of a dear."Ms. Montgomery's description of Barney was so striking that it stuck with me long after the story was over. His mismatched eyebrows and the way he sat with his hands in his pockets and his chin on his chest. I smile just thinking about it. The montage scenes where Barney is opening Valancy's eyes to the world around her were just beautiful. The island and Mistawis Canada come to life as the story unfolds and one can almost smell the pine trees and see the purple lake mist surrounding Valancy and Barney's island.
Gosh, this story was fantastic. It was great following Valancy on her adventure into life. Reading about her finding her inner strength, and eventually, her Blue Castle, was just magical. I've never read any L.M. Montgomery books before this one, and don't know if I will read anymore, but I will forever have a special place in my heart for The Blue Castle. Grade A+.