Comfort Reads: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

The book blog, Giraffe Days, had a wonderful entry about comfort reading. The blogger defines a comfort read as "...a book that, no matter your mood, you can snuggle down with. A book that you know, because you’ve read it before, has the power to absorb you, de-stress you, shine a little light on your soul for however long." I'm completely addicted to comfort reading. There are some books I reread annually, others I read whenever I'm slightly depressed, and still others I read when I've got nothing else that appeals to me. I was happy that Giraffe Days listed one of my own comfort reads in her top ten list of comfort reading, so I've decide to highlight it in my first Comfort Reads post. I'm not going to give a verdict on any of these books, but you can pretty much assume that the verdict is a ten, because, why else would I be reading these books at the drop of a hat?

The Blue Castle (Voyageur Classics)I'm sure the majority of people who place a L.M. Montgomery book on their comfort read list will have named Anne of Green Gables.   While I've got nothing against that book, and it might even find its own way into a Comfort Read post, I've got to say that given my druthers, I'd always choose The Blue Castle.  I vividly remember sitting down with this book with no expectations other than perhaps an orphan being involved with the story (that Montgomery does love her some parentless characters), and I remember getting sucked into the story swiftly.

This novel of the growth of Valancy Stirling is astounding.  When I started the novel, I felt so incredibly mired by the things that are holding Valancy back.  As she lists injustice after injustice, I wanted to scream at the world to just be fair to her.  Her family is hideous and mean and incredibly shallowly vicious and they keep Valancy down in a variety of large and small ways that add up to Valancy's complete misery.  Her life looks completely hopeless and she's living with her mother who is, perhaps, the worst person in her whole family.  Then, the turning point of the novel, a trip to the doctor where Valancy learns that she is dying and that she won't live out a year.

It is completely exhilarating and awesome to see how Valancy acts when she learns this news.  Rather than being shoved down any further, this last blow frees her!  The Valancy that is hinted at in the first few chapters blooms quickly and brilliantly into the Valancy that continues from there on in.  At first, it's the small things that thrill.  The quick little snaps she takes at her uncles, the refusal to her humor her mother, and the way she tries to do whatever she feels like doing.  However, as it goes on, you get to see Valancy live the life she's always dreamt about.  I think this is where the novel differentiates itself from so many romance novels I've read.  In those, you see the struggles of the heroine to get the man of her dreams and, perhaps, her own dreams lived out, but you never see the heroine live the dream.  Here, Valancy does.  She fulfills her dreams, gets her guy, and lives a wonderful life.

Reading about how Valancy lives this last year makes me want to sing.  When she talks of her cats and her snow shoeing and her jalopy riding ways, I almost regret that I wasn't young during the 1920s and living in Canada!  Barnay Snaith, the dream guy in question, is awesomely sweet and when he finally declares his love for her, as you know he will, it's heaven.

I save this book for when I feel put upon by relatives, or when I just need to be reminded that sometimes it's better to fight against bad news rather than letting life bring me down.  We make our own luck, as it were.

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