Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Blue Castle

As one of my Christmas gifts, I received The Blue Castle, by Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables), the only novel she wrote for an adult audience. I spent Christmas evening reading it in one great, grateful gulp.

It's wonderful.

Imagine that you are a 29-year-old spinster - past your prime, unlovely, unloved, living at home with your domineering mother, who controls every minute of your day, the timing of every meal, your posture ("Sit up straight, Doss,"), your every bite ("Doss, you haven't eaten your crusts"), what you are allowed to read (no novels), what you are allowed to feel ("It is not ladylike to have feelings"), even whether or not you sneeze ("'You can always repress a sneeze by pressing your finger on your upper lip,' said Mrs. Frederick rebukingly"). Now imagine that you receive a doctor's diagnosis of your chest pains: you have a very dangerous and fatal form of heart disease, and if you're lucky, you might live a year.

What would you start doing differently?

This is Valancy Stirling's life ("Doss" is a hated nickname); and what Valancy does next makes for riveting and inspiring reading. She comes to believe the truth that "Fear is the original sin" and learns that "It was so easy to defy once you got started. The first step was the only one that really counted."

The plot has some preposterous coincidences, and some readers might find Valancy's complete and utter transformation unbelievable. I believed all of it. I loved every word. Because once you decide to give up fear, once you resolve to defy everything that keeps you from living your life to the fullest, well, then, anything is possible. Everything is possible.

This book makes me want to start NOW.


  1. Montgomery has another adult novel: A Tangled Web.

  2. I was going to say what Anonymous said! But I also wanted to say that The Blue Castle is my favourite Montgomery book of all time. I read it 6 times in a row back to back once!

  3. Is A TANGLED WEB wonderful, too? Thanks for telling me about it! - Claudia (I've already read THE BLUE CASTLE three times now back to back - but that still doesn't equal Vanessa's record!)