I’ve mentioned before that this book hosts my favorite book couple and is one of the three books that define me, so I must REALLY like The Blue Castle! I’ve always been more of a magic-fantasy-action reader, but this is one of the few “quiet” books that just made its way into my heart. It’s soft, wonderful, and empowering, and full of nature and laughter and love.
Twenty-nine-year-old Valancy Stirling lives a dreadfully boring life with her mother and aunt, and is surrounded by relatives who insist on calling her “Doss”, a childhood nickname that she’s always hated. Timid, drab, and unassuming, Valancy is determined to change herself and her life after finding out from her doctor that she doesn’t have much longer to live. Much to her relatives’ distress, Valancy moves out of her house and mingles with the disreputable crowd in Deerwood: the perpetually drunk Roaring Abel, his sick daughter, and the infamous Barney Snaith. Her life (and reputation!) will never be the same again.
This is another random library book sale find, and I must’ve gotten it ages ago in high school because of the pretty cover. It was a time of my life where I was interested in romance and wanted to get romance novels but felt awkward with my parents with me, but since it’s by L.M. Montgomery, everything was fine. 😋 (I love finding books this way – it makes me feel that much more connected to them, because it’s such a serendipitous meeting, me and a book.)
Valancy is the most relatable girl ever. I read The Blue Castle for the first time when I was over ten years younger than Valancy, but as the shy kid, I could relate so much to the way she feels. Valancy feels trapped by her appearance, her house, and her feelings of a life that she hasn’t fully lived. Her inner world, the blue castle, is a place where she is forever twenty-five and forever being courted by dashing, young men – her imagination is vivid even though her life is not, which was something I was feeling at that time. Her rebellion from her old life and her transformation into confidence and contentment is a pleasure to watch, and really gives me hope that I also have that power to take control of my life.
Romance, friendship, relationship… Valancy and Barney’s relationship is super down-to-earth, and it reminds of of how some couples often say that they got to marry their best friend. Valancy and Barney’s personalities and interests are similar in that they both enjoy solitude, animals, simplicity, and nature. Barney is also not the tall, dark man usually found in Valancy’s blue castle (and Anne’s COUGH COUGH), but I love how sensible Valancy is in keeping reality separate from her blue castle. And it’s a beautifully peaceful life that they’ve created, and gives me a sense of contentment and fulfillment that’s even better than happiness.
After the meal was over they would sit there and talk for hours – or sit and say nothing, in all the languages of the world, Barney pulling away at his pipe, Valancy dreaming idly and deliciously, gazing at the far-off hills beyond Mistawis where the spires of firs came out against the sunset. The moonlight would begin to silver the Mistawis. Bats would begin to swoop darkly against the pale, western gold. The little waterfall that came down on the high bank not far away would, by some whim of the wildwood gods, begin to look like a wonderful white woman beckoning through the spicy, fragrant evergreens.
And of course, since it’s L.M. Montgomery: nature is always beautiful. Valancy really enjoys reading John Foster’s nature books, which are full of wonderful quotes that touch all of the senses:
“For the woods, when they give at all, give unstintedly and hold nothing back from their true worshippers. We must go to them lovingly, humbly, patiently, watchfully, and we shall learn what poignant loveliness lurks in the wild places and silent intervales, lying under starshine and sunset, what cadences of unearthly music are harped on aged pine boughs or crooned in copses of fir, what delicate savours exhale from mosses and ferns in sunny corners or on damp brooklands, what dreams and myths and legends of an older time haunt them.”
Overall, The Blue Castle reminds me to never give up hope and always keep improving myself. Even more than the romance, I feel that the part of this book that inspired me the most is seeing Valancy take control of her life and the freedom she feels after doing so. This is a beautiful, sweet story that I’ll revisit again and again.
Have you read The Blue Castle?
What are your go-to feel-good books?