It’s that time of the week already – time for me to select my very first quote from my newly established Twitter catalogue to share with all of you. Here it is:
“It was amazing to be able to sit up half the night and look at the moon if you wanted to.” – The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
Now, yes, this happens to be the quote I posted on Twitter yesterday (Sidenote: I hope you’re all following me there because I have to say, I selected some great quotes this week), but I didn’t tweet this quote last strategically or anything. It legitimately is the one quote that has stuck in my mind since I finished reading The Blue Castle a few days ago. So, you guys are in for a real literary treat today because not only can I tell you why I liked this particular quote so much, I can also seriously review the novel and explain to you how this quote fits into the grand scheme of the story.
I must admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Canadian literature, which is quite sad because I do really love my country and I am incredibly patriotic and proud to be a born and bred Canadian. Having said that, other than loving short stories by the likes of Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant, I’ve never really found myself drawn to Canadian literature as a genre…and this is probably all due to the fact that my mark in my second year university Canadian literature class was the worst mark I received in my entire university career. I can’t really warm up to Canadian literature as a result (I swear, that mark will haunt me forever…talk about overachiever problems!), and I can’t even say I was the type of girl who sat down and pored over the Anne of Green Gables series as a child. (Mind you, I watched the miniseries adaptation with Megan Follows almost every single weekend, so maybe I didn’t object to the story so much as to sitting down and reading something I’d already watched on TV…who knows?!) In any case, I don’t rush out to the bookstore or to my local library and think, “Oh my, it’s high time for some Canadian literature!” because, let’s be real, I live a thoroughly Canadian life and I grew up in a thoroughly Canadian small town, so I don’t see any form of escapism in reading about equally small town Canadian girls doing equally small town Canadian things. I’m more of a “Let’s go on an adventure to 19th century England and meet a dashing gentleman with a moderate fortune, a large country estate and an irresistible BRITISH accent” sort of person, apparently!
That being said, my fondest memory of that forever ruined Canadian literature class from my university days was reading L.M. Montgomery’s children’s novel Emily of New Moon, and while I think I’ve seen the Anne story adapted one too many times to read it with an open mind, when I heard about Montgomery’s adult novel The Blue Castle, I was intrigued and immediately put it on my To-Read shelf. (Sidenote: To find out what I’m reading at any given moment – and I am always reading something, naturally – become my friend on Goodreads!) Having finished it, I can say that it was one of the sweetest, most lovely novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s short, so I think the ending was a little rushed and the final conflict was treated a bit too quickly for my liking, but it was such an absolutely enjoyable read that I would highly recommend it! And, I admit, it was cool to read about a young woman living in 20th century Toronto…it certainly didn’t hurt to be able to visualize some of the locales!
What I loved most about the book, though, was how it treats the subject of personal freedom. The heroine, Valancy Stirling, is impossibly lonely and desolate at the beginning of the novel, all because she is controlled by her overbearing family and doesn’t have a voice of her own. She lets her mother, her cousins and her uncles and aunts make all her decisions for her, and it isn’t until she has a brush with death that she starts to fully assert herself and quite literally do whatever she wants! She is outspoken, forceful and unrelenting, and she does not allow anyone to tell her what she can or cannot do or how she can or cannot spend her time. It is honestly the most inspiring thing! And she tells people what she thinks of them in plain words, without embarrassment, and I couldn’t help thinking the entire time how liberating that must be!
Okay, I’m gushing now, but only because I find Valancy so amazing and I wish I could be her! I’ve always struggled with being strong and standing up for myself, and it was really interesting to see a character be 100% true to herself and actually end up happier for it. Valancy doesn’t feel much regret, and in the end her family members seem to respect her more than ever. Moreover, she has what I know I crave more than anything: complete freedom. She can, as the quote illustrates, sit on her front porch all night with her lover and watch the sky. She can wear fancy dresses whenever she wants. She can lie in bed all day and gaze at the wilderness outside her window. She just seems so totally at peace in every way, and I am envious of her, I truly truly am!
So that is why this quote spoke to me, and why I couldn’t get the image of Valancy on her porch in the moonlight out of my mind – because I want that life. Sure, I’d probably get bored eventually, but reading this novel on the bus after a long day of work, all I wanted was to sit in a garden and do nothing for hours; and for that reason, Valancy’s story took me to a place where I could live, at least for a couple hundred pages, the life I felt I wanted.
If you enjoyed this post and are interested in more of the quotes that inspire and affect me, be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. That’s where you’ll find all the quotes I posted this past week and the quotes I plan to continue to post!
Until next time, thanks for being interested in what #JNGReads!
Girl with a Green Heart