Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.  Published by Bantam Publishing, 1989.

I chose to read The Blue Castle as a part of the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge for two reasons:  I wanted to read a novel that wasn't Anne and I wanted to read the novel that my friend, Carrie, named her photography business after.

The Blue Castle begins on Valancy's 29th birthday.  She has never had a "beau,"  is plain looking, and is pestered and bullied by an overbearing extended family.  To escape the reality of her dreary life Valancy created a Blue Castle in her imagination.  After being told she only has a year to live Valancy develops a backbone and makes choices that leave her family believing she has lost her mind.

I'm going to try really hard not to mention any spoilers in this review but it's going to be really hard!

I love Valancy's imagined Blue Castle.  I remember having similar daydreams about handsome young men and beautiful dresses.  I am a little disappointed that Valancy's daydreams weren't described in more detail.  I had hoped to read a flashback of sorts of an experience at the castle.  Instead it's all kind of lumped together in descriptive narratives.

I also like that Valancy found her backbone!  I emailed Carrie after reading the third chapter and told her the girl better start standing up for herself soon because I was getting really annoyed with her.  Thankfully she finally did - and sent her family into quite a tizzy!

As with Anne, I found myself skimming Montgomery's flowery, must-this-go-on-and-on descriptions.  I used to love that kind of writing but not so much now.  I think I'm more interested in descriptions that move the story along.

Now comes the hard part of the review.  I'm not thrilled with the ending.  I feel like Montgomery had in mind two possible endings, couldn't make up her mind which she wanted to use, so she watered them both down and combined them.  I wish she had picked just one and made it strong. 

That isn't to say I disliked The Blue Castle.  Just that I feel it was ... eh, a'ight (that's "all right" for those who don't speak Southern).  A good read on a cloudy afternoon but nothing to rave about.

Have you read The Blue Castle?  Have you ever imagined your own version of a castle?  If so, what was it like?


Rachel said...

I've never read any other of her books that aren't Anne. I can't decide whether or not you recommended the book either. :)

Carrie said...

LOL to Rachel's concluding remark.

Yes, when I saw your e-mail I thought, "Oh she will! She will!" But I didn't want to say anything. I just hoped you'd like it. ;D Thanks for giving it a shot.

I picked that title to name the business after because I wanted something more subtle than anything Anne to throw people off of my trail a bit. ;) And none of Montgomery's other titles really seemed suitable. So walla! The Blue Castle. And I always like telling people the why behind the name anyway.

Stephanie Kay said...

Rachel, it's an ok book. It's not one I'll rave about but it's worth reading on a cold, snowy day. I don't think it's appropriate for teens. Mainly because Valancy refuses to listen to her family and does her own thing. In the end everything turns out ok and her family is shown to be a little hypocritical. I'm not sure that a teen could separate the need for fictional rebellion with the concept in real life. I'd rather err on the size of caution.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I re-read this one for the challenge the first year, I think. Of all the LMM books I've re-read the past three years, I so believe I enjoyed this one the most. Mind you, I haven't revisited Anne or Emily yet. Believe it or not, I really can't remember what is ambiguous about the ending, though.

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