The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Genre: Romance / Historical Fiction
My rating: Outstanding adventure
This is one of my all-time favourite books ever, and one that I think is completely underrated. Generally, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series gets all the attention, but The Blue Castle is an amazing little gem of a book.
Our heroine, Valancy Stirling, is a twenty-nine year old spinster, stuck at home with her overbearing mother. Valancy is the epitome of a dutiful daughter; however, she is desperately unhappy, her only outlet being the “forbidden” books of John Foster. Foster’s books are all about nature – quite the racy read, I’m sure.
When Valancy starts having strange sensations in her chest, she dutifully visits the doctor. When she hears her prognosis, Valancy decides its time for her to make some changes in her life if she’s not expected to live out the year. Valancy’s first order of business is to vacate her mother’s home and care for the ill and disreputable Cecily Gay. In caring for Cecily, Valancy gets to know the town “bad boy,” Barney Snaith, notorious for flying about town in his outrageous car. In an impulsive moment, Valancy asks Barney to marry her, explaining that she will not live out the year, and Barney miraculously agrees and takes Valancy off to his island in the Muskokas.
Finally free from her family, Valancy begins to shine and becomes her own woman and Barney becomes her best friend. However, Barney is hiding something in a locked room in their cabin, and while Valancy has promised never to go there, Barney’s secrets may be enough to tear them apart.
While I’m not sure that the plot is original, I loved Montgomery’s quiet delivery when I discovered it in high school. Valancy was a wonderful character that I think many can identify with. When I read The Blue Castle I always hope for Valancy to find her courage and live her life. This book is the ultimate comfort read for me.
The relationship between Valancy and Barney is also quiet and understated. It’s not a grand passion; rather, Valancy and Barney slowly become close friends and then realize there is something more. Readers get to watch them become friends, which I find rather lovely in a world where many romance novels speed through to the steamy bits (not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that there are times when you’re looking for something else).
Overall, I highly recommend this book. If you liked Anne of Green Gables you will be sure to love The Blue Castle. This is an atmospheric and lovely little novel that will appeal to a wide audience. And I also think that, despite the main character’s age, this novel is also appropriate for a teen audience.
If you have already read The Blue Castle or want more similar reads I would urge you to check out some of L.M. Montgomery’s other lesser known works: