I was 14 the first time I read The Blue Castle. I was spending the night with my aunt, a rare treat, reveling in her full attention and an enormous bed all to myself. Being a typical teenager, I chucked my own cleanser for the apricot scrub on her bathroom shelf, and then snuggled down under the sheets with my new Montgomery book. To this day, I cannot smell apricot scrub without thinking of The Blue Castle.
It’s so easy to visualize each scene as you read this story. They unfold before your eyes. I believe there were plans to make it into a movie, fifty years ago, but nothing came of it. I’d cry at a modern attempt, though, because filmmakers would certainly tweak the plot until it was unrecognizable. But to write the screenplay myself, if only for my own enjoyment—that is one of my dreams.
Dialogue would sparkle. Valancy is a 29-year-old girl still living under the thumb of her mother, and the scenes around the breakfast table are delicious. “Doss,” rebuked Mrs. Frederick, “you haven’t eaten your crusts.”
When Valancy throws caution to the wind and does and says whatever she likes, audiences won’t be able to keep from smiling. “Where did the dog bite you?” asked Uncle James. “Just a little below the Catholic church,” said Aunt Alberta. Valancy laughed. “Is that a vital part?”
The situations Valancy encounters ... befriending poor Cissy Gay, being rescued from the up-back dance, asking Barney Snaith to marry her, transforming from an incurable old maid to a deeply happy woman whose face even Tierney would paint … is this not the stuff of a delectable film?
John Foster’s books, Doc Redfern’s pills, the whole enormous Stirling clan, the cozy, contented Mistawis evenings, the fatal moment on the railway tracks … truly, The Blue Castle is a book to be seen with the inward eye again and again and again.
Note: read for the L.M. Montgomery challenge.