27 Sep 2008

Oh my.

I've just read the most sublime piece of writing.

Snuggled up on the couch this morning with a freshly brewed coffee and a good does of laziness I set myself to read. My current book was over near the fire , drying off after having been doused last night by a falling glass of water.
Instead of disturbing myself I reached out to the pile of books on the trunk and settled on my new library book."The Heart of The Family", another by Elizabeth Goudge. Now I know it's the third in a series and I know I haven't finished The Rosemary Tree yet but it's Saturday, time to live dangerously.

What a reward, one chapter was all I read and it was so so satisfying.
Almost a short story in its completeness.
Just wonderful.
Such a perceptive writer, so adept at putting into words the human-ness of people.
I must get my mother to read some of Goudge's books, so much more satisfying than those vast Aga Sagas she reads, books that use up a lot of time but give very little.
Although I must admit to reading one or two when I was staying with Mum when Kate was a baby and Stephen was away with work. It was by....., can't remember... but it was a saga set originally in the second world war and moving on from there. In it was a detailed description of the main character's weekly baking session which I found fascinating and another I read was about three women and one of them lived in the countryside with a domineering husband and she was "forced " to do all the baking and cooking from scratch using homegrown ingredients. Again I was fascinated by the way she worked in her kitchen and what she produced .
Her life seemed quite attractive to me. Actually I think that was one of my sister's Fay Wheldon books that Mum had borrowed.

Domestic detail in books is always a bonus in any book I read. The thing I enjoyed the most about "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French was firstly the shared lives of the housewifes in the early part of the book and then I was intrigued by the household organisation of the main character when she moved into her big new house, she had a card system I think. Don't worry, I did get the piont of the book but that wasn't the part that really interested me.

Coming back to "The Heart of The Family".
I would love to share the whole chapter with you but that would take too long.
I'll give you the opening of the first chapter, and see if you remember this part of your childhood.

"Meg, wearing mackintosh boots and a red mackintosh, and with a red sou'wester tied under her chin, splashed down the drive, and under the dripping oak-trees, in a state of happiness deeper and more perfect than any other she was likely to know while she lived in this world. Had she known that she would never be so happy in quite this way again she would not have been so happy, but she did not know. She was four years old, and much beloved, and regarded happiness as the normal state of everybody."

I love that in my middle years I have discovered these books written in the middle years of the Twentieth century, books by Monica Dickens, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Goudge and all the others I have yet to discover.
And the treasure trove that is Persephone books as well Virago.
How did I not know about them before?
It's wonderful that I have found them now.


last night's sunset.

17 Responses to “ ”

  1. I've been wanting a good book to read lately. Thanks for sharing some of your favorites. I will have to go to the library myself and look some of them up. Beautiful sunset too.:)

  2. Oh yes, I remember Monica Dickens, I remember reading One Pair of Hands, and One Pair of Feet, really enjoyed them, must have been 30 years ago I read them.
    take care

  3. Jenny,

    Thanks for sharing an author that is new to me! I am looking forward to reading Elizabeth Goudge's novels.

  4. Elizabeth Gouge is one of my favorite authors. Since a lot of our libraries have been getting rid of books by some of the older authors, I have been able to pick up some of my favorites quite cheaply from Amazon. The three books in the series about the "Elliot family" are, in order, "The Bird in the Tree", "Pilgrim's Inn" and "The Heart of the Family". "Pilgrim's Inn is one of my special favorites and you would love the description of the old kitchen in that book. That one has a lot of domestic details.

    Some other of my favorites are by D.E.Stevenson - "Vittoria Cottage","Music in the Hills", and the third of the trilogy "Shoulder the Sky.

  5. My future MIL gave me an entire stack of Goudge books as a Christmas present when I was dating dh. They were lovely used copies that she had collected, and I have treasured them ever since. The Child from the Sea, Pilgrim's Inn, Castle on the Hill, The Dean's Watch, etc. ALL so wonderful in their own way, that it would be hard to pick a favorite!

    The neat thing is that every 4 or 5 years or so I re read them all... and each time I find something new in it, partly because I have been a different age... idealisitic early 20s, then busy mother early 30, now working mother early 40s. So there is always something fresh and new to understand about myself or the characters. I LOVE books that grow with me, and never become outdated for me. LM Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Miss Read, Angela Thirkell, Wodehouse, just a few of the authors that have traveled with me from youth to middle age without seeming to lose their lovliness.

  6. I'm so glad you're enjoying Elizabeth Goudge, she's a writer who seems happy exploring "goodness" without being overly sentimental. And yes, she absolutely understands the power domestic detail has for her readership. I'm glad you like Barbara Pym too, so very funny and touching and real. Oh, good books, where would we be without them?

  7. Thank you so much for this post.

    I've been wanting a list just like this. You've included authors I haven't heard of before and I'll start searching. :)

    I have three E. Goudge books on my shelf (all library sale books) and I'm trying to find more.

  8. Jenny,
    YOu might also love the Grace Livingston Hill books:-)

  9. I love your blog. Your artistic process and gentle way of being are delightfully soothing. I will definitely check out some of these books.

  10. Hello,
    I am a frequent visitor, but have never commented, here. I love your blog. What a nourishing place it is! Thank you for sharing the beauty of a creative, happy home life with us.
    I comment today because I can't keep quiet when Elizabeth Goudge books are mentioned! They have been a continual source of inspiration to me for years. There are atmospheric descriptions of all that is safe and beautiful and cozy (the kitchen passages alone are worth many rereadings!), combined with such clear insight into our duty (and struggle) to love and sacrifice for one another. I am glad to think you've introduced her to so many readers.
    Thanks again!
    A new friend (and mom to Katya at the rose garden),

  11. I read your lovely blog often.
    If you haven't tried them already may I recommend Persephone's Dorothy Whipple's books? I'd never heard of Elizabeth Goudge but thanks to your blog I've just tracked down one of her books..Thank you!

  12. My daughter and I love E. Goudge also. They're so charming. I didn't discover her until I was in my early forties when a friend brought me one of her books. I've been hooked ever since and have collected as many of her books as I could find over the years.
    Love your blog!

  13. I don't know these authors, but then again, most of my reading has been done in Russian. :-)

    I'll try to keep the names in mind for future reference.

  14. I do love Elizabeth Goudge. Have you come across Miss Read? My absolute favourite for a cosy afternoon read, full of simple happy domesticity and post war rural English life. Just lovely - restful yet inviting me to get up and make jam.

    And oh yes the mackintosh and sou'wester and the joy of needing wellies!


  15. Lovely! Actually, I have a blog entry started in my drafts folder about some women writers, and EG is on that list. I've read a few by her - off the top of my head - City of Bells. I have loads of quotes I got from that book. But there are a few other women I like even better who haven't been mentioned by Persephone or Virago. Stay tuned - I hope to get it written soon. :<)

  16. I will have to add that book to my read list, it sounds lovely. Your sunset picture is magical! Thank you for sharing!


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.