“The Blue Castle”–Book review
It’s 88 years old. Why did I wait so long to read it?
The Blue Castle is a delightful novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, about 29-year-old spinster Valancy Stirling who early in the book makes a drastic change in her life.
But though she was not afraid of death she was not indifferent to it. She found that she resented it; it was not fair that she should have to die when she had never lived. Rebellion flamed up in her soul as the dark hours passed by–not because she had no future but because she had no past.
Valancy’s transformation is fun to watch, especially if you’re like me and deal somewhat with fears and worries yourself (thus relating to Valancy).
“Fear is the original sin,” suddenly said a still, small voice away back—back—back of Valancy’s consciousness. “Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.”
Unlike many older novels, this one keeps a brisk pace. But like others, vocabulary can gap so I occasionally had to look up words new to me. Montgomery also sprinkles in several biblical references if you notice those things, although in general she casts a dispersion on Christian hypocrisy.
“Cissy Gay is dying,” she said, “and it’s a shame and disgrace that she is dying in a Christian community with no one to do anything for her. Whatever she’s been or done, she’s a human being.”
. . . Oh, Valancy, what you’ve been to me! I can never tell you–but God will bless you for it. I know He will—“with what measure ye mete.”
Near the end of the book, I was caught off guard by some of the plot twists, which I attribute either to Montgomery’s skilled writing or to my naiveté.
I heartily recommend this book to adults and youngsters alike for a fun look at living life while you’re alive instead of dying through others’ expectations.
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Do you have a favorite older novel? A favorite L. M. Montgomery book? Leave a comment here.
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Huh… I’ve never read any of Montgomery’s work. I guess I really should. Couldn’t hurt, right?
I’m guessing not a lot of men have read Anne of Green Gables (her most popular book) but your daughter may have. 🙂 I wish I’d read The Blue Castle with my girls; it would have been a great read-aloud. But I think men would enjoy it too if you ever want to give it a try.
I assumed my husband wouldn’t be interested in investing the time to read Anne of Green Gables, so I told him he should watch the movie with me sometime (so he would understand a few of the bits of Anne I find myself quoting frequently in melodramatic moments: “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes”, etc.) He asked me why he shouldn’t just read the book–and promptly started in on it. He was barely into it when he was asking me if the whole book was as witty as the first bit was. Success!
I identified with Valancy, but in a rather different way than you (since I’m not prone to think what others will think when I start doing something).
I’m encouraged to hear that Daniel liked Anne! You’ve got a great man. Jeff might have read it to our daughters when they were younger, but I don’t think I could convince him to read it on his own now. However, he is faithfully watching Downton Abbey with me this season, so I give him credit for that. 🙂
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I had never even heard of this book before Carrie chose it for her book club, though I’ve enjoyed many other of Montgomery’s books. I enjoyed the second half much more than the first.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this one, but I’m glad it turned out to be so enjoyable. It’s nice to have another older novel to be able to recommend.
Oh, yea! Just the contrast I need right now, having finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road last night. A little L.M. Montgomery should brighten things up. I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t “met” her books until young adulthood, but I read all the Anne books in a hurry once I did. This one escaped my notice, and our library doesn’t even have it, but it definitely sounds worth reading. Thank you, Lisa! You always have book recommendations. 🙂 God bless your weekend.
You’re still ahead of me, Christina. 🙂 I didn’t read Anne until I was an adult either, and never read any more in the series. I googled The Blue Castle online and found a free copy that I downloaded to my Kindle. Praying you have a blessed weekend too! Ours will be a little fuller than I like, but all good stuff so I should survive it. ha.
Thanks for linking your review to the Back to the Classics Challenge!!
I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables until I was an adult either. I got my 65 year old mother to read it as well, and she loved it so much she read the entire series. I still haven’t read any more of them but I will someday. I have The Blue Castle on the TBR shelf, maybe I should use it for my 20th century classic also. I think I keep putting it off because the cover looks like a Harlequin Romance — I know that’s really shallow of me. Maybe I should wrap it up in brown paper first.
Aw, that’s so sweet that your mother read the entire Anne series. My mother used to love to read but I don’t know if she ever read this series or not.
I laughed when I you said the book cover for The Blue Castle looked like a Harlequin Romance. That turned me off too! ha. When I was trying to find a picture to put with this post, I wasn’t happy with what was available because it’s misleading. That’s probably shallow and judgmental of me too.
I thought I’ve read all of her books, but I’ve never heard of this one. I’ll have to find it!
I hadn’t heard of this book until I saw it on some lists this year. But I’m so glad I found it. Better late than never.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve read Anne of Green Gables maybe i’ll borrow a copy and read that too.
I read Anne with my daughters so it’s been awhile for me too. Maybe next year I’ll reread it as well.
I haven’t read it…but I want to! 🙂
I can see you enjoying it too, Lisa. It’s not up to par with the likes of Pride and Prejudice, but it’s a sweet little story.
Living while you are alive instead of dying through other people’s expectations. That sums up the message of this book QUITE well (and in a beautiful sentence) that I find really thought-provoking and inspiring. I had a very, um, interesting conversation this past weekend about some expectation that were had for me that don’t really match up with who I am as a person. And so I’ve spent the last few days thinking about where changes can and should be made and where I really need to relax “in my own skin” as it were and be who God made me to be. (And enjoy that!) Loved that concluding sentence.
Also, super glad you read along this month and read a Montgomery that you had never read before! Loved reading your thoughts and all of the comments received here. 🙂 Very fun.
Ouch–hearing expectations that we don’t line up with can be tough. I keep getting the message lately though to ask for that…hard to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to change accordingly, but it usually means something needs to be tweaked somewhere. I admire you for listening and thinking about what was told to you–and to be who God made you to be! I think Valancy would agree that’s the right thing to do. 🙂