Elizabeth Goudge Day: The Valley of Song

The Valley of Song, by Elizabeth Goudge

Lory's Elizabeth Goudge event is now something I look forward to a lot.  This year, I splurged a little bit and bought two (used) books I've never read, but I am still saving those for later; I also got The Valley of Song through ILL.  It's a strange and charming story; a children's fairytale, but a long and complex one that makes me think of....oh, At the Back of the North Wind, maybe.  Goudge mixes her Christian imagery and older mythology with happy abandon, like Lewis does in Narnia, but it's a very different feel, and her story is set maybe 250 years ago, in the late 18th century, I think.

My ILL cover -- charming
Tabitha, age 11, would always rather be outdoors exploring, or visiting her little town's shipyard, than anything else.  She has discovered a magical place she calls the Valley of Song, and when she takes her friend Job to see it, he is transformed from an elderly woodcarver into the boy he once was.  Together, they enter the Workshop, where everything is made before it appears in the world, and where they meet fantastic creatures, including the figures of the zodiac.  Job's special place has trees, but when Tabitha brings other people, they each have their own zodiacal sponsor and special place in the Workshop too.  All of them are needed to build a beautiful ship from an abandoned shell, which will belong to the people of the town.

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.   I really liked it, and now I have to give it back tomorrow, but maybe someday I can find a copy to own.  It would be worth having.


  1. Great review Jean! My library has most of Goudge’s novels for adults but none of her children’s literature! The Valley of Song sounds very much like it would be perfect for the child who has read all the Narnia books and wants to read something similarly creative.

  2. I've been enjoying Goudge's adult novels (including Towers in the Mist which I read for this year's Elizabeth Goudge Day) but I haven't tried any of her children's books yet. This one does sound very intriguing!

  3. Her children's books are wonderful. I wish I'd had them as a kid.

  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed this - I was longing to read it after finding the review from Charlotte's Library and so excited when I found a copy! Now I'm thinking it's about time to read it to my son (he's ten) and hope it "takes". He shall not be deprived of Goudge's children's books as I was at his age.

  5. I have just read my first Goudge book, also for Lory's reading day. I read The Little White Horse. I think I would enjoy more of her children's fiction. I will definitely keep an eye out for this one.


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