The Blue Castle
September 26, 2020 12:52 PM - by Montgomery, L.M. - Subscribe

Valancy Stirling is twenty nine, unmarried, and has had a cowed, fearful, dreary existence. Would an unexpected doctor's diagnosis change her life irrevocably?

I don't want to focus this thread too hard on a specific book or series by LMM; to be honest. I picked The Blue Castle because it is my favourite. Can this be a book clubby place for discussing her works? Inspired from the responses to this question. Take it away!
posted by Nieshka (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What a timely post, I’ve just finished a reread of The Blue Castle and will watch with interest! It always hits the spot for shameless escapist romance. I’ve now picked up my copy of Jane of Lantern Hill again which has many similar themes - a downtrodden life with a forbidding matriarch which is interrupted by a fateful letter, a perfect cousin, a single friend of dubious background, secret author identities, freedoms found in becoming outdoorsy and eschewing convention (not to mention the joys of housekeeping!). I wonder if Lantern Hill was just the Blue Castle recycled for a younger audience?
posted by Naanwhal at 12:56 AM on September 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

Naanwhal, the parallels you point out make so much sense! It is interesting how the place (Lantern Hill, the Mistawis) takes up so much space as an additional character that that is what I see when I think of these books rather than the similarities in plot.

I love both of these books and the Pat books for all their joyous domesticity in making a home. Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams also scratch that itch for me.
posted by jilloftrades at 4:02 AM on September 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have to reread Jane of Lantern Hill, but LMM did this often, didn't she? A fair number of short stories recycle plot points and/or characters. I've always found it vaguely endearing. The nicest part of Blue Castle was the sense of...remaking, if that makes sense? In a world that feels on pause in the worst way (and a life that has felt a bit like that for quite some time), it's nice to have that sense of hope from somewhere.
Anne of the Island was the first Anne book I read! I so enjoyed the setting up of Patty's Place and all the girls and their sense of fun surrounding it.
posted by Nieshka at 9:15 AM on September 29, 2020

I came late to The Blue Castle (long-time reader of the rest of LMM), via recommendations on AskMe, and I'm never quite sure what to make of it, though I have recommended it to others. (Most recently to my mother, who rang me when she was halfway through asking me to reassure her about the ending.) I'll try it again, I think.

I wrote an essay years ago (intended for publication in a collection which never got off the ground) about the demographics of the Anne series. I had fun listing all the characters, including everyone just mentioned in passing, and comparing them to the age / gender / marital stats of PEI at the time of writing. It gave me a lot of admiration for just how rich LMM makes her society. There are so many lives and stories referred to briefly. The data I gathered showed that the demographics matched very well with the actual island figures.

I've been meaning to read her life for ages - is there a good one?
posted by paduasoy at 2:03 AM on September 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

PS The Jane books are some of my favourites. May have to reread those now too.
posted by paduasoy at 2:04 AM on September 30, 2020

I would love to read your essay, paduasoy, if you still have it!
posted by Naanwhal at 3:19 AM on October 1, 2020

Back to the book....I kinda love wish fulfillment stuff like this. Most of us can't just completely upend our lives and change them this easily, so reading things like that is a fantasy that we can live out through someone else.

I admit, "go be a caregiver for a random girl" wouldn't have been my first choice, but it all worked out so well....
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:49 PM on October 1, 2020

I don't have easy access to the essay, I'm afraid. It's on an old computer.

Started reading Magic for Marigold on the 'bus this morning. I have read it before but don't remember it clearly. I haven't got very far but ws gripped - missed my stop. It did strike me how dark the beginning is. The whole weight of family coercion on the young widow. I could easily see that section being an anecdote in one of the other books - "the family tried to tell her what to name the baby, and as a result she ran off with a commercial traveller / drowned herself in the pond / never left the house again / joined an odd religious sect". (For the avoidance of doubt, I'm still in the naming discussion, and can't remember what happens next.) There's a lot of eccentricity and mental illness and tragedy in the books.
posted by paduasoy at 4:06 AM on October 3, 2020

Also, I don't know why I thought there was more than one Jane book (Jane of Lantern Hill). Either I wrote the sequel in my head, or melded it with Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat. Must not go down fan-fiction rabbit hole to see if anyone has done a sequel ...
posted by paduasoy at 4:35 AM on October 3, 2020

paduasoy, her journals are really interesting - there are multiple volumes.
posted by jilloftrades at 9:53 AM on October 3, 2020

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