The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I didn't read anything by L.M. Montgomery until I was in my mid-twenties and finally read the Anne of Green Gables series. And I was hooked. In my opinion, Montgomery writes the most beautiful prose in the English language. I've re-read the Anne series more times than I can count; my boxed set of paperbacks are nearly coming apart at the binding and the pages are well-yellowed with age and use.
I ran across this title when reading the Here in the Bonny Glen blog by Melissa Wiley, and she mentioned re-reading this book yet again. I quickly ordered it from the library and absolutely adored it!
Valancy Stirling is a character with whom I identified immediately. Her repressed childhood was nothing like mine, and I married young (at 19!). But I understand her love of nature and her longing for life to go beyond the boxed-in existence she was forced into through fear of what her family and the ubiquitous "they" might think. I cried with Valancy as she lived a life she hated and felt so fortunate myself in living in a place surrounded by natural beauty.
And I admired her reaction to the distressing medical news--her decision to go and truly LIVE her life the way she wanted. Ignoring the town gossip and her family's pleas for her to return home to her loveless mother and horrid aunt because she was making them "look bad." Leaving her home to "work"--no Stirling woman would ever stoop to work, for genteel poverty was far more respectable--shocked her family and the entire town. But only then does Valancy learn what it is to truly live.
This book is beautifully written and is ever so poignant; I found myself in tears more than once. Montgomery's beautiful prose combined with a heroine who suffers quietly for 29 years of her life and then finally breaks free of society's constraints to live at last!! I was in love!!
This is a book that I, like Melissa, will return to again and again.
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