The One Day That Changes Everything {Book Club}

one day

I have a confession that feels sacrilegious in this space: I love the Anne of Green Gables movie series more than the books.

Perhaps it is because I watched the movies first, pulling long marathons at my grandma’s house during New Year’s sleepovers. They were her favorite, and I smile when I think of watching them with her. Those movie marathons also meant the rare treat of eating popcorn in the living room, which was normally forbidden.

We are not reading the famous series by Lucy Maude Montgomery this month, but instead we are picking up another book of hers, The Blue Castle. Consider this week a preview, and then you are set free to read at your own pace until the last Tuesday of the month when we’ll circle back around to discuss it!

The Blue Castle was published in 1926 and takes place in Ontario, Canada, set in pre-World War 1 times. It’s one of L.M. Montgomery’s only novels not set in Prince Edward Island, but is based on a region she visited. It’s also one of two books geared more to adults!

Here’s a little bit of history about the author that I found: L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874 and lost her mother at a young age. She was raised primarily by her grandparents and grew up on Prince Edward Island. She started writing and submitting poems and short stories for publication at a young age, but it wasn’t until after she received her teaching certificate that any of her shorter works were published. In 1908, her first book, Anne of Green Gables, was published and was a raving success in Canada. She married a minister in 1911 after refusing a number of marriage proposals and she continued writing from their home on Prince Edward Island.

In The Blue Castle we will meet Valancy, our old maid 29-year old main character, and she feels rather stuck. I wonder how many of us can relate. Our life overseas can feel like a grand adventure, yet most days are full of market runs, laundry (by hand?), paying bills at various locations around town, creative meal solutions and so many other everyday routines. Sometimes the days can roll forward, one after the other, without a way of marking time.

The first sentence of the book reads, “If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different”. In that day and the days following, everything changes. Do you have any stories like that, where you can say, “And then one day…”? One day that changed your story, your circumstances?

I know there are prayers in my life waiting to be answered, dreams waiting to be fulfilled. I have conversations with the Lord and wonder how or when He will open the door, and in the waiting so often I wish I had a novel version of my life so I could flip a few chapters forward and see what happens. How long is this season going to last? Will I get the answer I’m hoping for?

But the waiting, those areas where we feel stuck, can also feel safe. We know what life looks like in those spaces. I wonder how much of Valancy’s life is ruled by fear, and how much is beyond her control. Sometimes, taking that first step toward change can be scary, and the risk can feel too great. L.M. Montgomery writes in the book, “Isn’t it better to have your heart broken than to have it wither up? Before it could be broken it must have felt something splendid. That would be worth the pain.”

Maybe that’s part of why I’m drawn to this book, those themes of hope and risk, making the most of each day that we have. Judging by the first sentence, I think Valancy’s life is going to get turned upside down. I’m cheering for her anyway.

Okay, am I the only one that loves the Anne of Green Gables movies more than the books? Anyone want to convince me otherwise? Have you ever identified with Valancy, the main character, whose life feels rather stuck?

P.S.- Come join us on Tuesday, June 25th for our discussion of The Blue Castle! Just a reminder we won’t have book club posts the weeks in between. Happy reading!

P.P.S.- Need some book recommendations? Every book we have read in Book Club is listed in our archive. If you weren’t able to join in, go check out the page for great reading ideas!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

5 Comments

  1. Adora June 3, 2019

    I loved the first book, but not so much the others. Her descriptions of PEI are so vivid and accurate, I really think it’s the loveliest place in Canada! But I also love this quote from Anne of Avonlea:

    “Anyhow, there’ll be plenty of jam in heaven, that’s one comfort,” Davy said complacently.
    Anne nipped a smile in the bud.
    “Perhaps there will… if we want it,” she said, “But what makes you think so?”
    “Why, it’s in the catechism,” said he.
    “Oh, no, there is nothing like that in the catechism, Davy.”
    “But I tell you there is,” persisted Davy. “It was in that question Marilla taught me last Sunday. ‘Why should we love God?’ It says, ‘Because he makes preserves, and redeems us.’ Preserves is just a holy way of saying jam.”
    “I must get a drink of water,” said Anne hastily. When she came back it cost her some time and trouble to explain to Davy that a certain comma in the said catechism question made a great deal of difference in the meaning.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann June 5, 2019

      Haha, I love that quote! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I would love to see Prince Edward Island someday!!

  2. Elizabeth June 3, 2019

    I love, love, love The Blue Castle! A fellow writer friend in Taiwan recommended it last year and I fell in love! So much so that I bought a hard copy for my daughter, who also loves L.M.M. I was obsessed as a child — loved the Anne series (though the movies really do compete, Megan Follows’s Anne is perfection), Jane of Lantern Hill, The Story Girl, and the Chronicles and Further Chronicles of Avonlea. Also loved the Canadian show Road to Avonlea. I really want to read more of her works in the next few years, but of course time is always tight 🙂

    All that to say, you really will love the Blue Castle as much as you think you will, and I will try to drop back in when you discuss it!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann June 5, 2019

      That’s so neat, Elizabeth! I hope you will drop back in for the discussion at the end of the month. 🙂

  3. Abigail Zhao July 20, 2019

    I think I love the books and movies equally! That was one of the first series of chapter books I remember reading because I really wanted to read them, after the Little House On The Prairie one. I think my parents bought it as a gift because my mom liked the stories. The way I remember it is that I also gave that idea to my mom for an idea for my unborn sister’s name. It became her middle name, and her first name Emily from the series Emily of New Moon? I don’t remember that series much. This makes me want to go read The Blue Castle now. 🙂

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