Monday, May 25, 2020

The Castle on the Hill

The Castle on the Hill, by Elizabeth Goudge

I acquired this book sometime last year and saved it for a special treat.  Or for Elizabeth Goudge Day, but I wasn't very good at that event, and the publisher moved its interest to Instagram, and I wound up skipping it.  (Am still up for next year, maybe?)  Anyway, a global pandemic seemed like a good time to enjoy a new-to-me Goudge title.  This one was published in 1942, in the middle of the war, and probably everybody needed a nice uplifting read right then.

It's 1940, and Miss Brown is homeless and jobless, at her wits' end to find a solution.  She's not wanted for war work, and all she's ever done is run a boarding house -- and there are a lot of people looking for jobs as housekeepers.  A train journey gone wrong brings her to Torhaven, in the West Country, where several mismatched people have been washed up by the war: a destitute Jewish refugee; a daring pilot and his brother, a dedicated pacifist; and two evacuee children.*  These strangers all find a haven at the castle on the hill run by the lonely, elderly Mr. Birley. 

It's a lovely story, though it stretches coincidence much too far and is not in the least probable.  Doesn't matter.  There's a romance and several tragedies and plenty more.  While I wouldn't put it on par with Goudge's best work, it's a good book to nestle up with and live in for a while.  I got to about page two and realized that my friend (the one I sent Coronation Summer to) would probably love it, so I ordered a copy and am going to convert her to Elizabeth Goudge.


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*As my mom wryly commented, round up the usual suspects for a war novel!



4 comments:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Awww, this sounds really sweet. I haven't had a lot of luck with Goudge historically -- I read I think two of her books and they were both just okay for me -- but maybe this would be more up my alley. I could use a gentle read! I'll see if I can get it on PaperbackSwap.

Jean said...

You might well like this one better, Jenny! I'm glad you're willing to try another Goudge.

Karen K. said...

I hadn't heard of this one but I've had Green Dolphin Street languishing on the bookshelves for a couple of years, so maybe this would be a good time for it.

And I love "round up the usual suspects for a war novel" -- sounds like they've checked off all the boxes!

Joy Weese Moll said...

This does seem like just the sort of escape I could use right now. And, I love your mom's comment!