Goodreads: The Blue Castle
When Valancy Stirling learns she only has a year to live, she throws caution to the wind. Instead of abiding by Stirling standards of decency and decorum, she’s going to do what she want and enjoy every moment she has left, even if that involves courting one of the most disreputable men in the neighborhood.
I don’t think I’ve read The Blue Castle since I was a child, so revisiting it as an adult was interesting. The book is considered to be one of two novels Montgomery wrote specifically for adults, along with A Tangled Web. While I’m not sure what this would have meant to Montgomery–how she personally distinguished between writing for adults and writing for children–I do think The Blue Castle is more bittersweet than some of her other work. As a child I mostly saw the happy points of the novel; now I see all the things Valancy doesn’t get, as well.
Put another way, I see all the complicated social ties Montgomery weaves together with her characteristic skill. Valancy may want to eschew social expectations–and in many ways she does successfully. I will always relate to her desire to wait to clean a room until it looks dirty, and cleaning will make a difference. However, I can see now the things she’s giving up, though whether those things have value, I think, is nicely open to debate. Montgomery is rather cynical about the Stirlings and their ways. As a child, I mostly just found them ridiculous. Now I find them sad.
However, the bulk of the book is, of course, beautiful Montgomery romance, and I loved every minute of that, as well. It’s not Montgomery’s standard fare–childhood friends realize they have affection for each other–and I appreciate the uniqueness. Unexpected things happen in The Blue Castle, and it’s wonderful. I’ll definitely continue to reread this in years to come.