The Blue Castle (by L M Montgomery)

I like LM Montgomery's books for teenage girls, even if they do seem a bit dated now. The 'Anne of Green Gables' series' series is, of course, by far the best known, but there are several other books by this author, which have been republished fairly recently, and inexpensively.

So we bought 'The Blue Castle'. My first surprise was that it's not about a teenager. Valency, the heroine of the book, is twenty-nine, although her lifestyle feels more like that of a ten-year-old of the times. She is totally submissive to her domineering mother and aunt. She's also the butt of all family jokes, has never been in love, and is already considered a plain 'old maid'.

Moreover, Valency is a timid kind of person. She's afraid of upsetting people, afraid of the future, and very afraid of some pains that she has recently been suffering in her chest. However she will not bring herself to mention them to her relatives.

Eventually she is worried enough that she plucks up the courage to visit the doctor in secret, and receives news that she has a terminal illness. Ironically, this actually pushes her out of her fear, now she has to face reality. She determines to enjoy what is likely to be the last year of her life.

So Valency speaks her mind to her family in strong terms, and makes several dramatic stands for freedom. The rest of the book follows the results - including explorations of romance, truth and integrity.

On the whole I thought it a pleasant book, with a few surprises along the way (although I had guessed many of them). A nice enough book for older teens and adults, though nothing special.

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