Fanciful Reader

a book blog about romance and more. . .

The Blue Castle

The Blue Castle had been on my bookshelf for well over a year. Last week I finally dusted it off and finished it.
It’s the story of Valancy, a young woman who’s supressed in every way by her overbearing family. She has always felt awkward and out of place especially in comparison with her beautiful cousin Olive who kept Valancy close to her to use her as a foil.

Valancy describes the tiresome condition of her life in the first few chapters. She finds comfort only in the florid nature writing of John Foster, and in dreaming about the Blue Castle, an exotically beautiful place of her own invention.

Everything changes when Valancy is diagnosed with a terminal heart condition. She shakes off her timidity almost at once. One of my favorite quotes:

“The greatest happiness,” said Valancy suddenly and distinctly, “is to sneeze when you want to.”

Earlier in the story one of her relatives had admonished her for sneezing, because it was not ladylike.

Her relatives are shocked but take it in stride–they think she’s going soft in the head and pity her.
She moves out of the house and starts living independently, associating with those whom her family condemn as the worst sorts of people–including the mysterious Barney Snaith who is said to have a criminal past.

Because of the unromantic name and his looks–crooked eyebrows, generally rumpled appearance, pipe smoking–Barney is not the most appealing romantic hero to me. He certainly is nothing like the cover model on my edition of the book, who looks to me more like a J. Crew model circa 1988. But as the story went on, I was able to see him more through Valancy’s eyes.

The conclusion is predictable but satisfying. The way that Valancy is able to embrace life and enjoy the wonders of the natural world in her own version of “The Blue Castle” makes this book a truly uplifting read.

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  1. This is my favourite of all the LM Montgomery books. I read this book at least once a year. The message I take from it is to live life to the fullest every day.