Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dean's Watch

newly back in print!
The Dean's Watch, by Elizabeth Goudge

It's Elizabeth Goudge Week, and I've already finished a book!  This is the first of her "cathedral" books; it's set in about 1870 and is based on Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire.  It took me a little while to get into it and figure out the shape of the narrative, honestly, but after a while I really got into it and read a huge chunk yesterday afternoon.

We have two protagonists, opposite yet parallel.  Isaac Peabody is a little, nervous clockmaker--a great craftsman, but prone to bouts of depression.  Adam Ayscough is the Dean of the Cathedral; one of the most eminent men in the city, yet miserable because he wants nothing more than to serve and truly connect with the people of the city, which his crippling shyness and intimidating appearance make almost impossible.  The Dean's watch--an actual watch--becomes the catalyst for a friendship between the two men that makes it possible for a lot of fairly miserable people to be rearranged into a pattern of peace and happiness, and finally for the Dean's watch--his calling to have the people of the city in his care--to be fulfilled in the way he wishes.

An interesting thing in a Goudge novel is that virtually no one, no matter how villainous, gets a comeuppance.  Nobody gets what they deserve; they invariably get something much better, and even the most awful people get some easing of their burdens, some way to be softened and become a bit better.  They don't usually repent completely and become wonderful people--she's more realistic than that even when writing a fairy tale. 

I quite liked The Dean's Watch.  Thanks to Lory for hosting this week, which prompted me to find a copy!  I have one or two other Goudge books from the library, so we'll see if I can manage another one.

Yeah, I'm going to need to visit this...

This book is based on the real-life Ely, so it counts for Cambridgeshire.

1 comment:

Lory said...

The Ely cathedral is amazing. I got to sing there when I was 17 years old but I need to go back. I'm glad you ended up liking the book too!