As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

February 16, 2011

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery, 1926

The Blue CastleThe Blue Castle is a 1926 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known for her novel Anne of Green Gables (1908). The story takes place in the early 1920s in the fictional town of Deerwood, located in the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada. Deerwood is based on Bala, Ontario, which Montgomery visited in 1922. Maps of the two towns show similarities. This novel is considered one of L.M. Montgomery's few adult works of fiction, along with A Tangled Web, and is the only book she wrote that is entirely set outside of Prince Edward Island. It has grown in popularity since being republished in 1990. The book was adapted for the stage twice; in 1982 it was made into a successful Polish musical and ten years later Canadian playwright Hank Stinson authored another version, The Blue Castle: A Musical Love Story. (Amazon product description)

Review by Debbie, Prince Edward Islander (she wishes)

The Blue Castle is Lucy Maud Montgomery’s anthem of freedom and self-discovery for single women. Okay, many single women these days have more choices than Valancy did in a small town in Ontario in the early 20th century, but her story is still inspiring.

On her 29th birthday, Valancy Stirling is feeling hopeless. As she has no marriage prospects (and never has had, which is even worse), her next year is looking to be as bleak as her last – living stifled and penny-pinched at home with her widowed mother and cousin, who treat her like a child without showing any love for her; meekly attending family events, too afraid not to laugh at her rich uncle’s crude jokes for fear of being left out of his will. Her family aren’t bad people, but they never question their socially approved way of life. Then Valancy, in her first breach of protocol, sneaks away to see a non-family-approved doctor about heart pains she’s been having, and she receives news that changes her life. She decides she is going to live how she wants to live, and she goes to keep house for the town drunk and care for his dying daughter (sending her family into full-on panic and suspicions of inherited insanity). While there, she becomes friends with Barney Snaith, another town reprobate, but one whose mischievous expression Valancy has always found intriguing.

I’ve always liked L. M. Montgomery-created characters (even Valancy’s self-absorbed relatives are fun to read about), but for me, what really makes this book classic L. M. Montgomery is the natural beauty that she glories in. Her celebration of beauty, which has made generations of girls dream of visiting Prince Edward Island, extends to Ontario, too. Valancy and Barney spend a happy year berrying in the summer, munching apples by the fireplace in the fall, snowshoeing in the winter, watching the woods come alive in the spring. Valancy once dreamed of living in a castle but now can’t imagine anything more perfect than life with mysterious, possibly criminal Barney in his little cabin on an island in a lake - and neither can I!

Market: Adult / Young Adult
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: None
Mature themes: drunkenness, death, unwed motherhood, but none is the main focus of the book

Book formats:
The Blue Castle (paperback)
The Blue Castle (hardcover)

To learn more about the author, visit: L.M. Montgomery


Mary Campbell said...

I love The Blue Castle - I've read it several times - so romantic. I love LM Montgomery for the very reasons you said - the characters are great and the prose is full of beautiful treasures to savor.

Mary E Campbell said...

The comment above from 't' is really from me. I signed into wrong account.

Emilee said...

This was always my favorite L.M. Montgomery book--even more than the Anne books. Probably because I admire Anne's spunk but had more in common with Valancy so I connected with her more.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love THE BLUE CASTLE! It's been ages since I've read it. Time for a reread, I think!

Anonymous said...

This is one of my very most favorite books of all time. Thank you for featuring it!

Laura Howard said...

Wow, I can't believe I never read this. As a young girl I positively loved Anne Shirley, this a must read asap for me!

elisekayem said...

Wow I can't believe I've never read this either!! I was also a huge Anne of Green Gables fan growing up! I'm definitely going to read it now! Oh and The Idea Room sent me!! :D

elisegeorgoussis at gmail dot com

Nicole said...

I love LM Montgomery. I have never read this one. Ive never even heard about it. The Idea Room sent me!


Elissa said...

Thanks for the review! I'll try this one out. I don't know if any of you have ever read her collections of short stories but they are WONDERFUL. I absolutely loved them, especially the first one "Chronicles of Avonlea." Some of the following volumes are even kind of ghost story-ish. The Idea Room sent me!

debra said...

I am a new follower, "Infarrantly Creative sent me. I would love to add this book to my library. My daughters and I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables. Ah, the memories.