I finished it! I’ve been reading Elizabeth Goudge’s The Child from the Sea off and on for over a year. A 736-page historical novel that offers an alternative reading of Lucy Walter, secret wife of Charles II, the book shines in its place descriptions, touches of realistic detail, and attitude of wonder about the natural world. But I had my struggles with it just the same. For one thing, I wasn’t up to speed in my knowledge of the subject matter when I started. Not…Continue Reading “The Child from the Sea”

I enjoyed Elizabeth Goudge’s The Blue Hills over a period of about two days. It’s actually a children’s book, though it was not located in the children’s section of the library when I came across it. However, it’s one of the children’s books that can be read with pleasure by adults — at least, by this one. Not much happens; it’s a tale about a birthday picnic in which almost all of the guests lose their way and have adventures in a mystical wood, but…Continue Reading “The Blue Hills”

What a deep well of quiet reflection and spiritual satisfaction this novel is. It was my first Elizabeth Goudge book when I read it back in 2010, and having read a number of her other books since then I wanted to revisit it. I stand by everything I wrote about it in my first review. There I summarized the plot and offered a few observations about things I liked. One of Goudge’s trademarks is that she writes with special insight about places, and I love…Continue Reading “The Scent of Water”

Even in the Northeast, everyone is bracing for Hurricane Sandy. Back on Wednesday, before it had really registered as a force to be reckoned with, I read this episode in The Child from the Sea and thought it was just stunning. I’m not sure why it had such an impact on me, but it’s partly that it represents some fine nature writing. I live inland and have never spent much time near the sea, but Elizabeth Goudge consistently enables me to feel the immensity and…Continue Reading “Storm writing”

When I finished Linnets and Valerians, I vowed I was not going to read any more Elizabeth Goudge. (I wrote about why here.) But now I’ve gone and read Green Dolphin Street. What can I say? My Goudge ban is not the first impassioned vow I’ve broken, and it’s had very happy results. Green Dolphin Street is the most absorbing, most satisfying, most meaty book I’ve read in a very long time. It’s a tale epic in scope, one that follows the stories of three…Continue Reading “Green Dolphin Street”

I started reading this novel to my daughters last week, and I raved about it. I’m withdrawing my rave. In fact, I’m discontinuing it as a read-aloud. Normally I don’t write about either unfinished or abandoned books. But since I foolishly wrote about this one before I finished it and would feel bad if anyone else picked it up based on my premature enthusiasm, I feel the need for a second post. The opening chapters have the Elizabeth Goudge trademark of wonderful place descriptions, as…Continue Reading “Linnets and Valerians (Revised)”

Over the last year I discovered Elizabeth Goudge, a 20th century Christian author with a remarkable gift for capturing the beauty and sense of place in the English countryside that forms the setting for many of her books. Readers of Goudge will be familiar with her trilogy about the Eliot family, their indomitable matriarch Lucilla Eliot, and their country estate Damerosehay, a 16th-century mansion patterned after the the one to which Goudge herself retreated to face her own inner demons. The real Damerosehay is demolished,…Continue Reading “The Heart of the Family”

*Edited to add: See my revised view of this book. It’s Read-Aloud Thursday, and none of the shorter books we’ve read this week seem post-worthy. But we’re a few chapters into Elizabeth Goudge’s Linnets and Valerians, an ALA Notable Book for Children published in 1964. We are having a blast with it. For one thing, I’m getting a chance to introduce the girls to a recently-discovered author, my favorite discovery from 2010. Elizabeth Goudge has a knack for writing descriptions that capture the essence of…Continue Reading “Linnets and Valerians”

“Who did that?” he demanded.“Ben, my oldest boy,” said Nadine… “It’s damn good,” said John Adair, almost with violence. “But the drawing –” “Faulty, of course, he’s had no teaching. But he’s got it — the light.” It’s a conversation between artist John Adair and Nadine Eliot, returning in this second book of the trilogy Elizabeth Goudge began with The Bird In the Tree. They are discussing a painting of her son Ben Eliot’s, but they could just as accurately be discussing Pilgrim’s Inn, for…Continue Reading “Pilgrim’s Inn”

The White Witch is a historical novel about the English Civil War(s) of the 17th century. It is surely one of Elizabeth Goudge’s best works, capturing not only the political conflict of Puritan against Royalist, but the many smaller-scale conflicts that characterize human existence. Some of these conflicts are antagonized by the war, but others are ever-present realities, whether personal, political, or spiritual: citizen vs. gypsy, Protestant vs. Catholic, trust in God vs. trust in magic, love for security vs. love for God. The all…Continue Reading “The White Witch”