Today is already our final day of the Literary Sewing Circle focusing on LM Montgomery's The Blue Castle!
The project linkup will be added to the bottom of this post: as soon as you are done your project, just pop a link to your post into the linkup and we will all be able to visit your blog/instagram etc. and explore your creation -- remember, it can be sewn, or knitted, crocheted, embroidered... any textile art that you practice.
And thanks to our sponsor Blue Calla Sewing Patterns! She will be giving a randomly chosen winner a free bag pattern from her shop. The project roundup closes on November 30th (LM Montgomery's birthday!) and I will draw a name from anyone who has linked up a project by then, whether on the blogpost or IG.
I shared a lot of my thoughts on the book in our earlier book talk post. You can explore those for some of my thoughts; today I'll share an overview of my impressions of this novel. I hope you will too!
I reread this one fairly often, having been an LM Montgomery fan from quite a young age -- although this one is better appreciated as an older reader, I feel. On rereading this time around, I did find the first section, with poor Valancy oppressed and living as "Doss", to go on a little long. It was like an extended rainy day from the opening of the book until Valancy's shocking decision to leave home, and maybe because I was familiar with it, or maybe because real life is so dreary in so many ways right now, I was ready for the happy bits to start!
This is a book you will read for the storyline, although all the characters are pretty engaging, at least for me. And the setting is just so lovely. If you like the writing style, you'll have lots to appreciate here; LMM is great at poking fun at pretension, using common adages to really give a flavour of her time, and of course at writing descriptive passages especially about nature. If you don't really like this kind of writing, it might not be as compelling to you! I love her style so did enjoy it even after many reads. I do usually skim the John Foster quotations by this time, however ;)
Something I really enjoy in all LMM's books, and I hope it was clear in my previous posts, was how much she includes clothing, and homes, and food in her writing. I find it fascinating and intriguing to read those elements, and to see how she uses things like clothing to reveal a character. Valancy's movement from snuff brown silk and an old-fashioned pompadour hairdo, to pale green shift dress and a bob, shows a vast change in how she sees and presents herself. While Olive, so sleek and plumply satisfied in expensive clothing in the beginning, remains exactly the same at the end but has lost her aura of superiority in Valancy's eyes. And from stuffy, multi-course family meals for all occasions, to roasting potatoes with salt on a campfire in the woods, Valancy's way of living changes from stifling social norms to personal freedom. LMM wrote this at a time that she was finding life difficult, and maybe this was a way of expressing her dreams of freedom.
The joys of a readalong are that you see new things even in a story that's familiar. In our last book talk post, reader Linda C. made a great point about Valancy running away from Barney at the end and going back to her horrible family home. It made me look at the conclusion of this story in a new way. What do you think about how it ends?
Questions for you: Were you already a Montgomery fan or was this book a new one for you? Did you find the character development satisfactory in the story, or would you like a little more in the main characters? Did you have a favourite side character? Did you enjoy the inclusion of so much description of the setting -- both the natural world and the homes that Valancy lives in -- and what people wear? Would you want to live on a secluded Muskoka island like Barney does? What is your Blue Castle?
If you're interested in delving a LOT more deeply into The Blue Castle, I recommend the Facebook group "L.M. Montgomery Readathon". They've gone through a number of LMM books, but the most recent readthrough was The Blue Castle. Each chapter is examined, social issues explored, images shared -- and many of the posts are made by LMM scholars. It's a wonderful group and you'll think about this book differently as you read all their discussions!
What project have you made, inspired by your reading of The Blue Castle? Share a link to your project on this post as soon as you're done! The linkup will be live until Nov 30 -- you have another 2 weeks of sewing time to finish and share. Don't forget that anyone who enters a project is in the draw for a bag pattern from Blue Calla!
(If the linkup does not work for you please leave a comment with your project)