Oh my goodness how I loved this book! It's a pure Cinderella fairytale of the very highest quality and is easily one of the best books that I've read this year. Valancy Stirling is an extremely likeable heroine and the book itself contains some absolutely stunning descriptions of the Canadian wilderness. This book is also funny, romantic, gripping, moving, and utterly heart-warming. The Blue Castle happens to be my first L.M. Montgomery novel and it certainly won't be my last. And yep, you did read that last sentence correctly. I don't quite know how I managed it but I somehow made it to the age of 27 without reading a single one of Montgomery's books (gaaasp!) I'm sure many readers will feel that I've missed out by not getting to read any of them as a child and maybe I did. But having said that I think it's probably a good thing that I didn't manage to read this particular book up until now, because I believe The Blue Castle is one of only two books that Montgomery wrote with an adult audience in mind and there are some genuinely deep and meaningful themes in it - e.g. overcoming fears, embracing change, the idea of rebirth and new life - that I really don't think I'd have been able to fully appreciate as a child.
Some reviews of this book that I've read have pointed out that it's rather a predictable read, but the predictability of it in no way lessened the story for me and there was this one detail about the hero's past that I genuinely didn't see coming. In fact the only thing that I'd really criticise about this book would be the name of its hero! Because Barney Snaith has got to be one of the sexiest and most swoonworthy heroes that I've come across in years and yet I've never heard his name being mentioned in the pantheon of romantic literary heroes before. I'm convinced that it can only be because of his name because Barney is a pretty horrible name for the hero of a romance novel. Forgive me, Barneys of the world!
The Blue Castle is such a lovely, happy, magical book and I would strongly recommend it to Jane Austen fans, especially those fans who particularly love Persuasion because The Blue Castle has some similar themes to that one. Now that I've read The Blue Castle I plan on moving on to Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon books in the near future. I'd love for someone to make a film adaptation of this book some day too! I've put down Felicity Jones and Ryan Gosling as Valancy and Barney on my Pinterest dream cast board :)