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!