book review: the blue castle

Valancy lives a drab life with her overbearing mother and prying aunt. Then a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Trent prompts her to make a fresh start. For the first time, she does and says exactly what she feels. As she expands her limited horizons, Valancy undergoes a transformation, discovering a new world of love and happiness. One of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s only novels intended for an adult audience, The Blue Castle is filled with humour and romance.


Every once in a blue moon (pun totally intended) a book comes along that speaks to me in a special way and when that happens, forever and always, I view that book as ‘mine’, even if it’s hugely popular and has hundreds or even thousands of fans. (Though usually that’s not the case.)  The Blue Castle is such a book.  Even though I only read it for the first time a couple of months ago, it’s already made an impression on me in a big way, and I know I’ll love it for years to come.  It just might be my favorite Montgomery book, actually, although to chose one over Rilla of Ingleside is still a pretty hard/major decision.

(By the way, I was tremendously stubborn about reading this book in the first place.  My mom recommended it to me, and then Naomi and then Hamlette but I took my own sweet time getting around to reading the thing.  And then when I finally did, I got so sucked into the story that I read it one day, almost in one sitting.  It’s that good.)

Why do I love this book so much?  TONS of reasons.

The characters.  I LOVE SO MANY OF THE CHARACTERS.  Valancy first, of course.  I love every single Montgomery heroine that I’ve read about so far (meaning, the ones in the books I’ve read) and Valancy is no exception.  She’s my favorite heroine after Rilla, as it turns out.  I love how she’s brave in leaving the Stirlings and making such a fuss at the anniversary dinner (although some of her comments were too rude for my liking) and how she’s kind in going off to look after Cissy and how she proposes to Barney (as a rule, I think the idea of a woman proposing to a man is ridiculous, but Montgomery handled it well) and she’s just lovely.  And as for the rest of the Stirlings, they’re faintly amusing, though they’re so annoying, and I feel a bit sorry for Aunt Georgiana.  She seemed the nicest of the lot.

Roaring Abel was great and Cissy was a dear (I don’t condone her past actions, but she was so sweet all the time that you can’t help but love her).  When she died, I’ll admit to tearing up a little (The Blue Castle, as a rule, didn’t make me really cry, but there were some emotional parts).

And THEN there’s Barney.  ASIDJFOWRLKADF;LAWERKL;DAMLDSV.  Favorite Montgomery hero ever, hands-down, no doubt about it. (Though all the boys in RoI come exceedingly close.)  I love how he looks after Cissy and then how he looks after Valancy, especially at the dance she goes to (and then the whole thing with Lady Jane and him giving her his jacket and I LOVE IT ALL SO MUCH).  And when Valancy proposes and they go and get married right away and how he calls the island ‘our island’ without a thought.  That always stuck out to me.  And when the train’s coming and he refuses to run away.  AND WHEN HE COMES TO THE HOUSE AND TELLS HER EVERYTHING.  Plus, sprinkled in between all those bits I mentioned is everything else I like about him which would take up this whole post. (The only thing I don’t like about Barney is his name.  I still don’t think it’s a proper name for a hero.) 

(ALSO.  His eyebrows.  I love his eyebrows.  Which may sound weird, but if you’ve read the book, you’ll get it.)

Also, I love the part when Uncle Benjamin (I believe it’s him) starts bad-mouthing Barney and Valancy won’t stand for it. ❤

Isn’t it wonderful how The Blue Castle is set in the 1920s?  Because then we get cars and bobbed hair and lovely, lovely clothes (the 20s is one of my favorite fashion eras) and more freedom for Valancy because stuff was changing then.  And there’s no horrible First World War to spoil everyone’s happiness, like in Rilla of Ingleside. (Though, Barney and Valancy’s children could theoretically be soldiers or nurses in WWII and I still don’t know if I want to think about that.)

Let me talk about the island for a moment: I’m not an outdoorsy/”Let’s go camping!” kind of person but I think being on a little island, in a cozy cabin with two cats and bearskins rugs and wolf pelts and books and a fireplace and, most importantly, the man you love more than anything in the world would be pretty close to heaven on earth.  Sometimes I wish I could switch places with fictional characters…

I don’t feel like I’ve given this book even half the justice it deserves because there really aren’t words to describe how it makes me feel and all the daydreams it always inspires and how amazing Barney is and how adorable he and Valancy are together and how there needs to be a GOOD movie of it right now.  Also, I want to read John Foster’s books. 

Basically, The Blue Castle is gorgeous and wonderful and squee-ful and basically every complimentary adjective ever invented.


*shivers with the delightfulness of it all*



28 thoughts on “book review: the blue castle

  1. Rosie McCann

    I’ve heard so much about this book. So, I went and read it last night.



    I agree – a lot of the things Valancy says to her family are just to far for me. But she is really brave in leaving to do what she wants, especially as that life was ALL SHE KNEW, even though it was horrible.

    And Barney. He was cool, although I agree that “Barney” isn’t really a proper hero name. I think I’m biased though, by watching too much of the kid’s TV show “Barney.” My favorite part of him is where he saves her when the train’s coming 🙂

    Oh, and one more thing I’m veeeerrry proud of. I guessed the whole Jon-Foster-Bluebeard’s-Chamber deal immediately at the very beginning of the book. *grins*


    1. Oh, you read it! Excellent. 🙂

      Well, I had no idea that Barney was John Foster, and it was nice to read about a plot twist that I didn’t have spoilers for, since that happens so rarely. 😛 But kudos to you for figuring it out!



    Nothing else to say. Just I agree with everything you said and I need to reread it. AGAIN. GOODNESS I’m glad I was one of the people who made you decide to Finally read this. 🙂


    Gah, I love this book to bits.

    ~ Naomi


  3. YAY! I’m so glad you love it dearly 🙂 I want to pawn my children off on a babysitter for the day and just read it again today. It’s a lovely rainy day, perfect for reading a good book with a mug of hot chocolate.

    I mean, it’s not exactly the most plausible plot, and it all hinges on a few coincidences, but it’s just put together so beautifully that one doesn’t remotely care about all that because it’s just soooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious. Kind of like an ice cream sundae — we don’t care that it’s not nutritious, we just need a treat sometimes ❤

    Like you, I kind of was petulant about reading it at first. "What can be so good about this book that I'd never heard of before?" I had the same problem with "North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell and the BBC version. Hahahaha, joke's on me, they're actually EXCELLENT just like people kept saying.


    1. Ohhhh, it’s such a delicious book. Once I finish reading A Christmas Carol, I might have to re-visit it. (It would be my third re-read in two months, which is usually what I do with books I adore – read and read and read them until I find something new.)

      I enjoy the N&S miniseries, but I found the book really hard to get into, so I gave it up. 😛 Would it be worth another try?


      1. Hmm, I wonder why you had trouble getting into the book? It’s not so witty and sparkly as Jane Austen, but it’s considerably less dense than much of Dickens, for example. I read it while at my parents’ house back in May, and Cowboy was gone, and I stayed awake until 3am finishing it because I just couldn’t put it down. And I never do that — I value my sleep highly. So yes, I think it would be worth another try.


      2. Some books just don’t capture me – like Code Name Verity – and I don’t know why. However, I was much younger when I tried reading N&S, so I should probably give it another chance. 🙂


      3. Oh yes, I absolutely know how that goes. But yeah, now that you’re older you might get sucked right in — I don’t think I would have liked it much before I was like 17 or 18. I mean, I loved Jane Eyre when I read it at 16, but I didn’t enjoy Austen until I was in my 20s, and I probably would have been the same with N&S.


  4. I love this book too! It’s such a strange, unique, beautiful story. And I agree with you — the only thing I don’t like about Barney is his name! I still can’t hear the name Barney without having visions of a big purple dinosaur come to mind…*sigh*

    Lovely review! 🙂


  5. What a perfect review. Thank you for saying what was in my heart, but I couldn’t have written it as perfectly as you did.
    What is it about this book that captures everyone?
    I don’t mind Barney for the hero’s name, but maybe that’s because I’m old enough (did I just admit that?) to not associate that name with a certain despicable dinosaur. 🙂


    1. I’m the same, Jennifer S! The character/person who comes to mind when I hear the name “Barney” is Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. Not exactly a romantic hero either, but I really don’t object to the name at all just because it sometimes makes me think of him.


  6. jessica prescott

    Sounds like I need to read this book, too 🙂 Rosie and me were talking about it till . . . ummmmmmmm . . . Rather Late last night 😉

    I don’t know if it’ll turn out to be my favorite–Rilla of Ingleside is my current favorite and I can’t really imagine anything replacing that–but I’d like to read it anyways!

    Oh, yeah, I don’t like the name “Barney” either. See, I actually LIKE the big-purple-dinosaur-Barney, but I just can’t see him as the hero in a Highly Romantic Story. So . . . it strikes kind of a Jarring Note.

    By the way, did you know that “Barney” is originally an Irish (I think) nickname for Bernard? I had no idea, till I read it somewhere . . . I thought it was just “a name” 🙂


    1. Rilla is tied with Blue Castle, pretty much, though whenever I’m reading one or the other, it’s my favorite. 🙂

      Barney being a nickname for Bernard is touched on in Blue Castle, actually. But the circumstances surrounding that are highly spoiler-ish, so I’m afraid I can’t give you details. 😉


  7. I actually quite like the name Barney. I mean, I would never choose it for my own son, but it has it’s very unique sound. I like the crunch of it. 😛 And I like it because… it’s BARNEY’s name. 🙂


  8. Ashley Perham

    I read this book and enjoyed it, but I don’t love it as much as everyone else seems to. However, I love the actual plot because it’s so fun and different!

    I also love Barney! Doesn’t he play the fiddle or something? I actually like that name because it’s unique and seems friendly I guess. (Ignoring certain deputies and dinosaurs) I really, really dislike the name Valancy though! What is she, a curtain?

    YES! We need a movie! And fanfic about their children could be amazing! Lovely review!


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