Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Elizabeth Goudge Day: The Master Post

Greetings, fellow Elizabeth Goudge readers!  (Or prospective readers; we're looking for new club members!)  This is the Master Post for Elizabeth Goudge Day; you can start a readalong of Towers in the Mist at Jorie Loves a Story, enter the book giveaway elsewhere on this blog, or comment here about what Goudge books you love.


I have now read most, but not all, of Goudge's adult novels and a good few of the children's stories.  I find her writing difficult to describe; most of her adult books are realistic historical or domestic stories that would be quite unremarkable mid-20th-century novels, except that a) Goudge was such a very gifted writer, and b) she had an unusual ability to write stories infused with Christianity that were nevertheless hardly ever didactic or preachy.  Her books tend to be uplifting and hopeful, giving everyone involved some redemption, even when totally undeserved.

I've looked back over my blog to see what books I have read, and it appears that I must have been reading Elizabeth Goudge longer than I had thought, since I have no posts for the first five or six books that I read.  That's too bad, because they are some of my favorites!  The first book I read was City of Bells, which I have now read twice and never reviewed properly.  Then I tried Pilgrim's Inn -- the middle book of the Eliot trilogy, and my favorite of the three.  Of the children's books, I started with The Little White Horse, a lovely work that really ought to be much better known, and Linnets and Valerians, which reminds me of E. Nesbit.

Here are some links to former posts I've written about Goudge novels:


Gentian Hill:   Fear, and the overcoming of it, is Goudge's main theme.  Zachary is not the only one who has to face his fears and work through them, but his ordeal takes the foreground.

The Rosemary Tree:  We have John and Daphne, a married couple who need to connect better, their three daughters (each with her own story), the girls' school teachers, Daphne's former fiance (fresh out of prison), a great-aunt who lives on a small estate, and John's old nanny.  All of their stories intertwine to produce a really lovely novel about second chances that uplifts but is never sticky or saccharine.  I didn't know that anyone could write novels like this anymore.

Green Dolphin Street:  Goudge was really quite a genius at taking a hackneyed old plot like "two sisters in love with the same man" and turning it into something unexpected, fresh, and redemptive.  She did it pretty often.   Here, the three protagonists have long, troubled roads, and their lives turn out otherwise than expected, but they are also all engaged in a lifelong work of saving each other.  There is a lot about love, and what that really means.  Is it necessary to be married to your true love?  What if you are not?  What is marriage meant to do, and what work should it accomplish?  Are there other ways to love and do good?  How do we each find our life's work?  Goudge's answers to most of these questions are very, very different than you'd get from almost any other novelist.

The Valley of Song: It's an unusual story, that's for sure, combining a fantasy tour of all creation, a love of one particular English village, and a deep belief in the possibility of redemption for everyone, no matter how lost they feel. 



Please tell me about YOUR reading of Elizabeth Goudge novels and what your favorites are!




3 comments:

Helen said...

I love Elizabeth Goudge so thanks to you and Jorie for hosting this. I also have a giveaway on my blog and should be posting my review of Gentian Hill later today. So far I've only read four of her novels but my favourites are Towers in the Mist and The White Witch.

Lory said...

I am reading Gentian Hill but have not finished it yet. Thank you for sharing your favorites! I love The Dean's Watch and A City of Bells (I really, really want to live in Torminster and run a bookshop.)

Jean said...

Oh, Lory, me too! (I bet we all do.)