Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors.  During my teenage years I devoured everything she had written, casing my local bookstore to see if any new collections of her short stories had come out (I think the last one came out while I was in college).  I love Anne of Green Gables; she is one of my all-time favorite heroines, but I also love all of Montgomery’s other literary creations as well.  The Blue Castle is one of her “adult novels.”  I loved it as a teen, but haven’t read it about twenty years.  When I was given the opportunity to review a new edition published by Sourcebooks, I jumped at the chance.

Valancy Stirling is a 29-year old spinster in a very domineering and controlling family.  The Stirlings love to gossip, and to make sure that you never forget any slight transgression even if you were only an eight-year old at the time of the transgression.  She has faded away from life and the only thing that keeps her going is her day dreams of a “blue castle” where she can be happy and the nature books of John Foster.  Valancy has been not feeling well and after a visit to her doctor, she learns some shocking news.  The news revitalizes her and makes her determined to grab life by the bullhorns and to really live it.  The new Valancy learns about compassion, life outside her family circle, and about love.  She also learns to not be afraid to speak the truth.

I found that even though I hadn’t read this book since I was a teenager, I still remembered much of the plot.  I enjoyed every single page of it.  I loved Valancy’s journey from shy and sad girl to empowered and happy woman. I’ve always thought this would make a great film, especially with the train scene at the end.  I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but now that I’m older and know more about L.M. Montgomery and her struggles with depression, the book really got me thinking.  Montgomery’s novels are often about family. Family can be loving and supportive, but family can also be cruel and vindictive.  With her mother dying while she was still a child and her grandparents raising her, did Montgomery ever feel emotionally adrift as Valancy did?  Was her family controlling and gossiping as the Stirlings were?  Did she wish she had a blue castle that she could escape too with a happy ending?  I really need to read the 2008 biography of L.M. Montgomery.

One other item I need to mention is how much I LOVE the new cover that Sourcebooks has put on this edition.  The Blue Castle is set during the 1920’s and the cover really captures the feel of the time period with Valancy’s dress and it looks like how I would picture Valancy with the description in the text.  I also LOVE the depicted blue castle, which really matches the text as well.  This edition is a Trade paperback book and is visually much nicer than the mass market paperback from the 90’s.
Overall if you are looking for a good story or love L.M. Montgomery, but have never read beyond the Anne series, make sure to pick up a copy of The Blue Castle.  You will enjoy it!

Book Source:  Review Copy from Sourcebooks – Thanks!


  1. The Blue Castle sounds wonderful, Laura. Lovely review.

  2. I really love, love, love Blue Castle!

  3. Thank-you Suko!

    Me too Becky! I keep thinking and thinking about this book. There is so much I would like to write about in the review, but it's hard to do without spoiling the story for everyone else. I love the love story and Barney Snaith. I love all of the characters. They are perfect. Why isn't this a movie?

  4. I read this last year for the first time and liked it also. I agree that family dynamics shape much of LM Montgomery's fiction and from what I know of her own history, that makes sense.

    My sense of Valancy is that hers is Anne's story, if she hadn't been adopted by the Cuthberts.