I recently read The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery. If you are familiar with the Anne of Green Gables novels, then you know how beautifully Lucy wrote. Her descriptions are scrumptious. Her characters are lovable, amusing, and very well-drawn. By the end of the story, the main character has become your life-long friend, and you are dying to go to the Canadian Maritimes and see the incredible beauty for yourself. This book is no exception.
Valancy Stirling is twenty-nine years old and has never been in love. Her whole life has been dominated by her overbearing mother, meddlesome aunt, and other numerous older relatives who live rigid, strict lives, but still feel the need to gossip and condemn their flighty neighbors. Poor Valancy’s life is boringly consistent and consistently boring as she tiptoes around, fearing to offend anyone, never saying anything about her true thoughts and feelings. Her only consolations are her daydreams of the wonderful Blue Castle, where someday she’ll live happily ever after with her handsome prince, and her precious books by naturalist John Foster, which she reads in secret.
Everything changes when Valancy gets a letter from her doctor telling her that she has a severe heart condition and isn’t expected to live more than a few months. Valancy spends an entire night thinking. “I’m poor — I’m a failure — and I’m near death… I’ve never had one wholly happy hour in my life — not one… I’ve just been a colourless nonentity.” (pg. 39)
She decides that no matter what, from now on she is going to say exactly what she thinks and do what she wants. She says, “I’ve been trying to please other people all my life and failed… After this I shall please myself. I shall never pretend anything again. I’ve breathed an atmosphere of fibs and pretences and evasions all my life. What a luxury it will be to tell the truth! I may not be able to do much that I want to do, but I won’t do another thing that I don’t want to do.” (pg. 46) The results are hilarious. Her family thinks she has gone mad, but Valancy steps out into the world and discovers joy, adventure, beauty, and even love as her greatest dreams come true.
This is one of the few books that Lucy wrote for adults. It is definitely going on my Favorite Book List!