Synopsis: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery is the story of Valancy Stirling and how she takes charge of her own life. Always under the thumb of her controlling family, meek and mild Valancy is shocked to learn that she has only one year to live. As a result of this revelation, Valancy takes her life in hand and does things that shock and outrage her “proper” family. Along the way, she discovers love and friendship, two things she never had in her former small life.
My Thoughts: I really thought when I finished Jane of Lantern Hill earlier in the month that I was finished with the L.M. Montgomery Challenge. However, when I read Sarah’s review of The Blue Castle over at A Library Is a Hospital of the Mind, I began to reminisce about the book and decided I wanted to re-read it before January was over. That’s what I did, despite my towering TBR stack for the month of February, and I am so glad!
I think I like Valancy Stirling just as much as I like Anne, Pat, and Emily. In some ways, reading her story is much like reading about most of Montgomery’s other heroines: an oppressed girl finally finds her freedom through some magical turn of events that liberates her imagination and personality so that she can finally be who she really is. However, this story deals with more “adult” themes (‘though certainly these are tame by today’s standard): alcoholism, the sullying of a girl’s reputation, the illegitimate birth of a child, etc. I understand that Montgomery intended this novel for an adult audience. Certainly it would be entirely appropriate for any young adult reader, as well.
I really appreciate Valancy’s frank appraisal of her family after the scales are removed from her eyes (or maybe a better analogy would be after her tongue is loosened and she can finally speak the truth without fear). Valancy is sarcastic and truthful, and it is downright hilarious at times. Montgomery is a master at characterization, and although her characters are so extreme that at times they seem like caricatures (i.e. the snobbishly cold mother or grandmother, the outwardly-wicked-but-good-at-heart man, etc.), her descriptions and little vignettes make reading her books delightful. This is why I love Montgomery’s works.
Since I read Jane of Lantern Hill for the first time just a few weeks ago, it was still on my mind when I re-read The Blue Castle. There are many similarities between the two novels. I will not say what they are and ruin it for you if you haven’t read these fine stories; however, I can summarize these similarities by saying that some of the things that happen to Jane as a child are mirrored in the adult world of Valancy Stirling.
The Blue Castle is an entertaining and delightful book. Highly recommended!