The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery is one of those backlist classic books I’ve meant to read for years. I’ve loved the Anne of Green Gables book series since I was a young girl, but I haven’t read many of her other books. I read this mostly from an actual paperback book.

I think The Blue Castle is as good a classic romance as a Jane Austen book, though it takes place about a hundred years later.  It’s one of the few adult novels that L.M. Montgomery wrote.

Paperback book The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery This book has social commentary, humor, tears, romance, and a wonderfully written cast of characters. Plus cats! This is a cat-friendly book. The chapters are short. There are 45 chapters in this book that’s about 250 pages long. If you’re looking for short chapters, this book has them.

“Fear is the original sin,” wrote John Foster. “Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something. It is a cold, slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.”

The beginning of the book is slower with lots of social commentary and introductions to Valancy’s family and her expected societal limitations. The social and religious commentary alone was riveting. 

In many ways, I’m glad I read this book for the first time as an adult married woman and mother. I think I appreciated the nuance more than I would have ten years ago. I thought and talked about The Blue Castle intensely for days after I finished reading it. 

The last 25% of the book is packed with reveals and emotional excitement.


I thought that the rose bush Valancy “attacked” at the beginning of the book would be blooming at the end, and it was.

I cried big tears at Cissy Gay’s story of her baby’s death, then for her own death a few pages later. 

The only problem with this romance is that Barney Snaith is perhaps the worst name for a romantic lead I’ve ever heard. 

I’m interested in how much detail is on the page compared to what we’re supposed to understand is going on off-page. In my experience, intimacy is rarely mentioned in a book like this. A “respectable” book published in 1926. 

To “make love” means romantic speech or “sweet nothings” and seems to have no “bedroom” implications. I’ve read this in “older” books before, but it was especially noticeable here that this was still accurate. On the drive home after they get married, Valancy says she doesn’t “want him to make love” to her, and suggests that she just wants him to talk to her like usual. Then as soon as they get to the island, they have their first kiss. I think we are to understand from this first kiss, that they have an intimate physical relationship.

But I wanted you to talk. I don't want you to make love to me, but I want you to act like an ordinary human being.

Barney lifted Valancy out of the canoe and swung her to a lichen-covered rock under a young pine-tree. His arms were about her and suddenly his lips were on hers. Valancy found herself shivering with the rapture of her first kiss. "Welcome home, dear," Barney was saying.

And a bit later, this line.

And that little kissable dent just between your collar bones.

That sounds quite intimate to me. Interestingly, none of the “marriage of convenience” style tropes such as sleeping apart happened. That’s not where the romance is. A sweet and wonderful relationship is described for them, from companionship to implied physical intimacy. The conflict comes from the unknowns in his past as well as her assumed quickly approaching death. 

All this, and still Valancy does not believe he loves her. She truly thinks he’s just been pitying and humoring her. This is frustrating to the reader but is not unbelievable given her emotionally abusive upbringing.

Thankfully, they sort it all out in the end.

The hypocrisy of her family! Ugh!