Book Review: The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery
Lately, my son has really been into all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. We have checked out every single one from the library. My son keeps asking for more, but we have gone through them all. Honestly, I'm just as disappointed as he is that there aren't more in the series. It's been fun reading with my son and laughing at the same jokes. Anyway, now that I am finishing the wimpy kid books, I am looking for something new to read. As I was reminding myself what books I already had on my kindle, I came across one that made me feel like I just ran into an old friend: The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery. Yep, same author who wrote Anne of Green Gables. So I decided to share my review. Minor spoilers below.
It's a very sweet romance that feels like a more old fashion version of that movie with Queen Latifah called The Last Holiday. The book is about Valancy Stirling (I love her name!) and the boring life she lives until a fatal diagnosis inspires her to seek out the life she has always wanted, if only to enjoy it for the short time she has left. The book starts off a little slow because so much detail is given about Valancy's relatives and the rut she is stuck in with all of them, but all that detail really helps the reader feel Valancy's despair. By the time she decides to take charge of her life, I was screaming "Yes! Do it, Valancy! You can do it!" I was ready to take charge if she didn't!
I really loved seeing all her relative's reactions to the new Valancy throughout the book and how their opinions evolved as they learned to appreciate Valancy's efforts. It is hilarious to see how their narrow perspectives change based on circumstances.
Valancy herself is a really great character. She is brave, funny, and caring. One of the things I really loved about Valancy was that even though she is experimenting with her freedom, she still clearly has morals, and she sticks to them. I think it is refreshing to see her make decisions for herself about what she believes in and what she doesn't. I think this was one of the things that made me trust her as a reader.
And then there is Barney and her relationship with him. I don't want to give away too much, but I think their romance is so sweet and fun. Barney is mysterious, but there are reasons to trust him. He is kind and fun to be around, and it is clear why Valancy likes him, but he is definitely hiding something.
My least favorite character was probably Valancy's mother. I could not stand her coldness and the way she always walked around as if she were a victim. I don't think she showed any growth at all, but Valancy finally probably got her respect in the end. It's hard to say, but at that point, no one cares or wants it.
The blue castle itself is just something Valancy has created in her mind, a dream of the perfect place to be. I thought the whole idea of a blue castle that she dreams about was a little cheesy, but there are ways in which I can still relate to the idea. Mostly, I just like how she comes to discover that there are blue castles in real life too.
I think The Blue Castle would totally be appropriate for younger girls interested in a clean romance. The focus is really more about Valancy living life intentionally than it is about the romance, but the romance always adds that extra spice! Plus there are some fun twists at the end that may or may not be predictable. If I remember right, I think one of them surprised me and the other I saw coming, but it was still fun!
In the end, The Blue Castle is definitely a book I would recommend!