I read The Blue Castle for the first time in Hong Kong right after my 30th birthday, and I felt like Valancy was a kindred spirit. Fear has been my strongest companion and fiercest motivator through the years (yep, I’m an Enneagram 6 all the way). I definitely did not grow up with family anything like hers, but I have struggled to keep people happy and often change my own desires to please others.
So maybe that’s why I was so utterly delighted to read about Valancy’s courage to start speaking up, to follow her heart wherever that path might lead her, and to make choices solely because it was what she wanted and it sounded fun!
If you found out you had only one year to live, what might change in your life?What would it look like to live freely and purposefully in that year?
The changes Valancy made were pretty drastic! She talked back to her family members, which made her gleeful and brought much consternation on their part. She took a position nursing a young woman on her death bed, and then proposed marriage to someone she barely knew. What a turnaround!
I have never had the privilege of traveling in Canada, but the spot where Barney and Valancy lived sounds like a little piece of heaven. I love that instead of desiring a palace or fancy dishes and furniture or the best of everything in the time she has left, Valancy is perfectly happy with a tidy little house on an island with her cats.
Maybe that’s what I love most of all about this book. Valancy finds that balance between pursuing life, pursuing dreams, but also finding contentment in the little things. She finds delight in relationships with people who truly care about her. She doesn’t completely scorn all worldly goods but enjoys a pretty gown and impractical shoes. She gives space for her family to come around and decide what they will rather than completely giving them up.
She chooses to live.
We each must make those choices, mustn’t we? We can choose to stand strong with firm boundaries while also loving well. We can choose to say yes even when we are afraid, to try something new or make a frivolous and fun purchase. We can take a risk, or learn how to be content right where we are. For sometimes contentment can be a life-filled risk all it’s own.
Let me leave you with a few more questions and then let’s discuss The Blue Castle in the comments!
Which character in the book was your favorite? Have you ever had a “Blue Castle”, a place in your imagination that feels perfectly like home? In what ways did Valancy inspire you or do you find her choices foolish?
Check out what we are reading in July!
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.
Here’s the schedule for reading the book:
July 2: Sabbath week, so no Book Club
July 9: Chapters 1-6
July 16: Chapters 7-12
July 23: 13-18
July 30: Chapters 19-23