The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

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.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Published 1926 by McClelland and Stewart
Format: e-book rental from Hoopla*; 218 pages
Also By This Author: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Kilmeny of the Orchard
Goodreads | Amazon 
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I am blogging about a new favorite love story of mine by one of my favorite authors.

The Blue Castle was the first book I read in 2018, and as soon as I finished, I knew I had found my favorite read of the year. I know I will probably read 40+ more books this year, but I don’t think any of them will resonate with me more than The Blue Castle. It’s a hidden gem of a novel and I only wish I had read it sooner!

The characters in this novel are so bold and entertaining. The heroine, Valancy Sterling, is as lovable and admirable as Anne Elliot, Jane Eyre, and Jo March, and the supporting characters will honestly make you laugh until you cry. There was a smile plastered on my face for most of the novel (with the exception of a few moving scenes–I mean, this is L.M. Montgomery we’re discussing!).

The Blue Castle is one of those books you bring with you everywhere, just in case you’re able to sneak in a page or chapter while you’re out, and once you finish the book, you’re ready to start it all over again. I felt so happy and thrilled when I finished it, and I couldn’t stop recommending it to friends.

You May Also Enjoy…

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope
(I haven’t read this one yet, but I loved the miniseries!)

Final Musings

I tried listening to The Blue Castle on audiobook, but it just wasn’t good. This is one of those books you need to read in print.

One of my favorite things about reading The Blue Castle is that I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, and even the blurb on the cover gives nothing away, so I was in full suspense and surprised by so many of the plot points. That’s why I’ll keep this review short and sweet, but if you have read it and would like to gush about it with me, leave a comment below :)

*Hoopla is one of my favorite bookish services! It’s a free online digital library that offers 6 e-book, audiobook, album, or film rentals a month, and there are NO waitlists! If they have it, you can check it out. They partner with public libraries, so see if your library offers membership :)

“Come Away, Come Away!”: J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan


Artwork by Nicholas Jackson

“You just think of lovely wonderful thoughts,” Peter explained, “and they lift you up in the air.”

“After the first production I had to add something to the play at the request of the parents…about no one being able to fly until the fairy dust had been blown on him; so many children having gone home and tried it from their beds and needed surgical attention.” – J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan (originally Peter and Wendy) by J.M. Barrie
Published Oct. 11, 1911 by Hodder & Stoughton
Children’s/Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Annotated hardcover; 182 pages
Also By This Author: The Little White Bird, Peter Pan (play), The Admirable Crichton
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5/5


Peter Pan, the book based on J.M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children–Wendy, John, and Michael–who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks. 

(This review is spoiler free)


What is there left to be said about the story of Peter Pan, the Darling children, and Neverland? I feel as if this beautiful story about children who don’t want to grow up has been analyzed, digested, and adapted more times than anyone can count, but clearly there is a reason for that: Peter Pan is an enduring masterpiece. So instead of analyzing it, I just want to share a few of the things that struck me the most while reading this book.

Firstly, I checked out my library’s copy of The Annotated Peter Pan, and I’m really tempted to buy a copy for myself. It has so much information about J.M. Barrie, the early productions of the play, hundreds of footnotes (which is where I found that quote from Barrie about the fairy dust), and some chapters on Peter Pan adaptations, spin-offs, and productions.

The Introduction by Editor Maria Tatar included this similarity between Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which echoed my own feelings while reading the novel:

[Dorothy], Huck, and Peter have won us over with their love of adventure, their streaks of poetry, their wide-eyed and wise innocence, and their deep appreciation of what it means to be alive. They all refuse to grow up and tarnish their sense of wonder and openness to new experiences.

Reading this book as an adult, I noticed myself trying to rationalize things or figure out a logical solution to the characters’ conflicts, but when I tried to see Peter Pan and the world of Neverland through the eyes of the Darling children, I began to feel inspired and light-hearted again. This is the exact reason why I enjoy reading children’s and YA literature. Of course every genre deals with serious subject matter, I am not disputing that, but I particularly love reading tales from the POV of a child or adolescent; experiencing situations from the eyes of a younger person has always been eye-opening to me.

Another aspect of the novel that made a big impression on me was Barrie’s style of writing. His sense of humor is both subtle and cheeky, and it’s most concentrated in his descriptions of the characters. One of my favorite examples of this is from a passage about Peter Pan’s imagination:

The difference between him and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing. This sometimes troubled them, as when they had to make-believe that they had had their dinners.

And another one about Captain Hook being temporarily overcome by softness:

There was a break in his voice, as if for a moment he recalled innocent days when–but he brushed away his weakness with his hook.

Speaking of the characters, every film adaptation I have seen of Peter Pan has done an excellent job at keeping the characters pure to their original depictions. I grew up watching both Hook and Disney’s animated version of Peter Pan, and I was easily able to resonate each of the film characters with their print versions. Captain Hook seemed both hauntingly intimidating and ironically frightful while Tinkerbell was as mischievous as ever.

I loved how the last chapter concluded everything nicely for our characters, although in such a short and intense way that it definitely brought tears to my eyes. This is one of those books that stays with you a while after you finish the last page; you’ll reflect on things in a bittersweet or inspirational way.

Read This Book If…:

…you have an active imagination
…you’re always up for an adventure!
…you’re not ready to grow up (or you have grown up, and you wish you hadn’t)
…you need to refresh your sense of wonder and embrace the unexpected

Final Musings:

I dearly loved this book, in a different way than I probably would have if I had read it as a child. The themes that resonated with me the most weren’t about the pirates or the fairies, but about living for the moment, staying curious and interested, and always being ready to face the unexpected (as impossible as that sounds). And this wonderful story reminded me that sometimes we have to pause and take a look at the things around us, to reflect on where we are and how we got there.

Odd things happen to all of us on our way through life without our noticing for a time that they have happened.