Friday, January 28, 2011

My Favorite Author

First, an apology. I should rename all my blogs “I’m Sorry”, I have to apologize so much for letting months long lapses occur. Or, maybe a better idea would be to get my act together and keep them timely!

Let’s try that last one.

Thank you to my faithful readers. I am so grateful for your support and encouragement, even when I fall down on the job.

So who is my favorite author?

I actually have many favorites and they have corresponded with stages in my life. High school had J.D. Salinger, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Harper Lee. In college I adored F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, John Dos Passos. Since then, there have been many more I have been fortunate to discover and I will share those over time.

But when I was in eighth grade, our reading book that year had ‘further reading recommendations’ at the end of each chapter. I was always looking for new and interesting books and one that caught my attention was “The Little White Horse”.


This was a children’s novel written in 1946 by English writer Elizabeth Goudge. It was enthralling. Set in the 1840’s, it opens with the orphaned Maria Merryweather arriving with her governess at her new home, Moonacre Manor, where she is to live with her guardian and cousin, Sir Benjamin.

There are secrets and fantastic characters at every turn, along with magical touches and a heavy dose of coincidence. Everyone has a story and a past, all neatly entwined and interconnected by the author as you race to the delicious and, naturally, happiest of happy endings.

Elizabeth Goudge’s writing was sentimental and old-fashioned and charming. I was totally hooked and proceeded to devour everything she had written from the library.

Most of her books were for adult readers, but they took place in a world that was unique to her, one that was full of noble emotion, forbidden love, honor and devotion to duty. Her prose now would be considered by most people to be hopelessly out of date, but that is one reason I continue to love her and re-read her work constantly. Her stories are safe and predictable, but written with heart and full of wonderful quotes to support the themes of her novels. I read as much poetry reading her books as I did in my whole college life as an English major. She was also very spiritual and I found that to be inspiring.

Elizabeth Goudge was born in Wells, England in 1900, the only child of an invalid mother and a theology professor father. Her carefully worded and discreet autobiography, The Joy of the Snow, describes the challenges of growing up with her mother’s mental illness and how she adored her father. Her earliest writing was not successful and it discouraged her for years. But in 1934 Elizabeth wrote Island Magic, based on stories her mother had told her about her own childhood on the Guernsey Islands. This was a success and she became a renowned and well loved writer for the rest of her life. She died in 1984.

She is most well known for Green Dolphin Street, a story of star-crossed love, and then for her series on the Elliot family, The Bird in the Tree, The Herb of Grace and The Heart of the Family.

For years my great challenge was discovering her books at second hand book sales, each find a triumph. Then EBay came along and, while I was eventually able to collect all my favorites, it definitely took away the thrill of the hunt.

I actually wrote to Elizabeth when I was in college and she wrote back! She wrote me a charming thank you for my fan letter and I treasured it. It was lost when my parent’s basement was flooded. But I will never forget her sweet and friendly reply.

Whenever I need a true comfort fix, Elizabeth Goudge is where I turn. There is always a place for me in her delightful, gracious and bygone world.




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2 comments:

Dirty Butter said...

I'm not much of a reader any more, as I spend most of my time on the computer. But I must say I enjoyed your review of this author's work. I love YOUR writing! Thanks for sharing your personal attachment to these books with us.

I follow you on ExposeYourBlog.

Marie said...

Thanks DB!! What a lovely compliment!!

If you ever get the reading bug back, I would recommend just keeping one of Elizabeth Goudge's books at your bedside, to read a little each night. Her stories are all so sweet and calming. Most of her books are out of print now, but easy to find on Ebay for less than the price of a new paperback.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comment!

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