Every so often I rant and rave about The Blue Castle
and try and make everyone read it. It's LM Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables
fame) writing a book for grownups.
Wherein we read about Valancy's Blue Castle for the first time:
Valancy, so cowed and subdued and overridden and snubbed in real life, was wont to let herself go rather splendidly in her day-dreams. Nobody in the Stirling clan, or its ramifications, suspected this, least of all her mother and Cousin Stickles. They never knew that Valancy had two homes--the ugly red brick box of a home, on Elm Street, and the Blue Castle in Spain. Valancy had lived spiritually in the Blue Castle ever since she could remember. She had been a very tiny child when she found herself possessed of it. Always, when she shut her eyes, she could see it plainly, with its turrets and banners on the pine-clad mountain height, wrapped in its faint, blue loveliness, against the sunset skies of a fair and unknown land. Everything wonderful and beautiful was in that castle. Jewels that queens might have worn; robes of moonlight and fire; couches of roses and gold; long flights of shallow marble steps, with great, white urns, and with slender, mist-clad maidens going up and down them; courts, marble-pillared, where shimmering fountains fell and nightingales sang among the myrtles; halls of mirrors that reflected only handsome knights and lovely women--herself the loveliest of all, for whose glance men died. All that supported her through the boredom of her days was the hope of going on a dream spree at night. Most, if not all, of the Stirlings would have died of horror if they had known half the things Valancy did in her Blue Castle.
For one thing she had quite a few lovers in it. Oh, only one at a time. One who wooed her with all the romantic ardour of the age of chivalry and won her after long devotion and many deeds of derring-do, and was wedded to her with pomp and circumstance in the great, banner-hung chapel of the Blue Castle.
At twelve, this lover was a fair lad with golden curls and heavenly blue eyes. At fifteen, he was tall and dark and pale, but still necessarily handsome. At twenty, he was ascetic, dreamy, spiritual. At twenty-five, he had a clean-cut jaw, slightly grim, and a face strong and rugged rather than handsome. Valancy never grew older than twenty-five in her Blue Castle, but recently--very recently--her hero had had reddish, tawny hair, a twisted smile and a mysterious past.
I don't say Valancy deliberately murdered these lovers as she outgrew them. One simply faded away as another came. Things are very convenient in this respect in Blue Castles.
But, on this morning of her day of fate, Valancy could not find the key of her Blue Castle. Reality pressed on her too hardly, barking at her heels like a maddening little dog. She was twenty-nine, lonely, undesired, ill-favoured--the only homely girl in a handsome clan, with no past and no future. As far as she could look back, life was drab and colourless, with not one single crimson or purple spot anywhere. As far as she could look forward it seemed certain to be just the same until she was nothing but a solitary, little withered leaf clinging to a wintry bough. The moment when a woman realises that she has nothing to live for--neither love, duty, purpose nor hope--holds for her the bitterness of death.
It's a really uplifting tale so far, isn't it! LOL.
But after various convenient plot twists, Valancy grows a backbone, throws off her familal ball and chain, and goes to work for the town drunk, whose daughter is dying of TB (or some such wasting lung disease) after the death of her illegitimate baby.
I promise there's a happy ending ... (having something to do with that mysterious red-head with the past. Also there are moving pictures, Chinese fried chicken, bobbed hair, and patent medicines. Also canoes...).
But meanwhile, she is out in the backwoods taking care of Cissy who is rapidly dying.
ENTER MY YULETIDE FIC OF AWESOME!!!!!!
Someone wrote me the loveliest Valancy, Cissy fic called Where the Winter Roses Grow.
It is sad, and beatiful and I just love it to pieces.
It made me cry. I sorta love that. I can't wait to read the other two Blue Castle fics.
Forget the giant cuddly slippers, and the crop-a-dile, and all the milk glass in the world, it's my favorite Christmas Gift!!!
p.s. the lovely australians have provided The Blue Castle full text if you're curious!!