Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thoughts: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Valancy Stirling is basically an old maid whose entire clan—including her overbearing mother—either ignore or walk all over her. When Valancy learns that she has only a year to live because of a heart ailment, she decides to finally grab life by its throat, and becomes the person she was always meant to be.

There are so many things a modern reader wouldn’t like about this book. You can see how the story will end from miles away, and that supposed twist in the end? It’s not a twist at all, because modern readers have probably seen it thousands of times.

With that said, it was virtually impossible for me NOT to love this book.

Valancy is beyond annoying in the beginning of the book. She wallows in self-pity and basically lays herself on the floor so the beautiful Olive and the other Stirlings can walk all over her. After learning that she has a severe heart ailment, she feels comfortable in her own skin, and unleashes all the venom she’s been storing inside her for the past twenty years or so. And all that venom was pretty freaking hilarious.

Don’t even get me started on L.M. Montgomery’s descriptions of Muskoka and Deerwood. The descriptions are so lush and vivid that I wanted to get on the first plane to Canada. *Sighs.*

And the mysterious Barney Snaith? The romance between him and Valancy was delicious to watch, and problematic at the same time. When Valancy has nowhere else to go, she turns to Barney Snaith, and he becomes her salvation. It’s cool that she’s striving to make a path for herself, but must the way to freedom always involve a man? Don’t get me wrong. I think Barney Snaith is worthy of Valancy in every sense of the word, but I just wanted to see her get together with him after she figured things out on her own.

On a somewhat different note, have you heard of The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough? The plot is really similar to The Blue Castle. Some might even call The Ladies of Missalonghi an Australianized version of The Blue Castle. I don’t want to jump on a pulpit and scream ‘plagiarism’ outright, but I think this should be a topic for discussion.

8 comments:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

My goodness, I've never even heard of this LM Montgomery novel, and I thought I was at least familiar with all of her books. I've been a bona fide of the Anne and Emily books ever since I can remember, and I know what you mean about her descriptions of Canada. My first trip to PEI made me feel like I was someplace comforting and familiar after having grown up reading her.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I've only read the Anne books (and only a few of these), but this one sounds very cosy and comforting.

I don't like the cover though, it looks like a tacky romance novel with a swooning woman....

Lorren Lemmons said...

I adore this book! It is rather cliche but at the same time so cozy and lovely. It is one of my favorite L.M. Montgomery books.

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

I LOVE this book, and quite happily overlook any of the little problems you noticed with the storyline. My fondness for L.M. Montgomery knows no bounds, I do believe.

I think the highlight of the book, though, are the nature descriptions. This is the first books where I've really slowed down to enjoy the descriptions, and I think it's a credit to Montgomery.

Nymeth said...

I haven't read The Ladies of Missalonghi, but I'm not surprised that other books with a fairly similar plot exist because what LMM does here is really not that original. I mean, I LOVE this book, but IMHO it's all about the voice and the execution rather than the fairly predictable plot. But I guess I'd need to read it to know for sure :P I'm glad you loved this one too!

Kailana said...

I have owned this forever and STILL not read it. I really need to get cracking!

Aarti said...

I just got this one on my Kindle recently, so will be diving into it... some day ;-) I am glad you liked it, even though it is uber-predictable. Sometimes, as Nymeth says, it's just all about execution.

Cynthia Kleppang said...

I love The Blue Castle, and I have also read The Ladies of Missalonghi, which was different enough to be its own story, even though there are striking similarities in the heroine's family. TLoM is a delicious read, and nowhere near as chaste as The Blue Castle.

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