Thursday 20 February 2014

The Blue Castle by L M Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery only wrote 2 adult novels. One of them was The Blue Castle published in 1926.

I had never heard of it until last year when I wrote a post about The Ladies of Missalonghi by Australian author Colleen McCullough. McCullough was accused of plagiarism because of the number of similarities between the two books.

I have to say, that it does look incredibly suspicious.

McCullough claims no knowledge of The Blue Castle.
Perhaps it was one of those books she picked up in the library as a little girl, browsed through it, liked the idea enough for it sneak into the back reaches of her memory, only to emerge in her adult years as an 'original creative idea'?

Whatever happened, The Blue Castle and The Ladies of Missalonghi are basically the same book. One is set in Ontario, Canada, the other in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

They both describe a quiet, genteel, unlovely young woman, slowly becoming a fearful, poor relation spinster. Suffocated by her controlling family, suffering pangs & pains of the heart and finding solace in her local library.

A visit to the doctor changes everything when she finds out she has only a year to live.

What happens next in both books is a sweet, delightful romance as Missy/Valancy throws off her cares and fears to embrace life. She speaks her mind, shocks the family, changes her hair and clothes, asks a man to marry her & runs away to live happily ever after.

The various plot twists are predictable and easy to spot. There is nothing challenging about either book, but, ohhh, they are just so soul-satisfying!

Missy/Valancy stand in for every shy, insecure girl in history. They give hope that every single one of us can be beautiful when loved. That everyone can dream of love and eventually find true love if only they are brave enough and honest enough to be themselves.

The Blue Castle AND The Ladies of Missalonghi are now two of my very favourite rainy afternoon comfort reads.

The Blue Castle counts as my book for The Colour Coded Reading Challenge hosted by My Readers Block.


  1. "Soul-satisfying" what a perfect way to describe it! You know what's going to happen and yet you're thrilled when it happens!

  2. The Blue Castle is a favorite book of mine...I read it every year, or so...but I didn't know it was so similar in plot to the Ladies of Missalonghi. Makes me want to check that one out and see which one I like better. Fun post!

  3. What an interesting post Brona. I haven't heard of The Blue Castle, or the controversy over The Ladies of Missalonghi, but then I haven't read much (?any) McCullough. Do you have a favourite between the two?

    1. TBC was sweet and of it's time. I enjoyed the Canadian setting. The plot twists were pretty obvious, but that may have been because I had already read TLOM and knew what to expect!
      TLOM has a more modern edge to it as you would expect and the sex scene is mentioned more openly. There is also a curious little ghost story tangent in TLOM. There are some other differences that I wont mention here, so that it doesn't spoil your reading pleasure. I guess I lean towards TLOM because I knew it first and the story line is a tad more complex.

  4. So they really are very close - that must have made things very uncomfortable for McC.!

  5. The Blue Castle sounds like a winner! I didn't even know she wrote adult novels.

    1. Neither did I until last year. Apparently there were 2 adult books, the other being A Tangled Web.

  6. I have been meaning to read The Blue Castle for AGES! It's definitely at the top of my TBR. I had no idea that there was a Colleen Mcullough controversy though...scandalous!

  7. Anonymous29/6/17

    Hi Brona, very interesting blog post! I had no idea about this controversy or for that matter, the author, but then I haven't read a lot of Australian authors yet. I think I will give McCullough's book a try as well sometime. Loved your description of the Blue Castle. :)

    1. I hope you hunt down the McCullogh book - it is just as delightful & I'll always be grateful that it led me to The Blue Castle as well.


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