Elizabeth Goudge

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Sat Mar 11 14:14:21 EST 2000


Tony Fox writes that

>I am a longtime EG fan. They are not real life but they try to
>tell some kind of truth

and Anita says that

>I'd have to agree with Tony - that they try to tell some kind of
>truth - rather than with Camilla "The rest I've tried are pretty
>much dreck".  There are some things I eventually came to dislike
>in the Damerosehay stories but the joy of the children, the
>struggles of the adults, while idealised, bring pleasure, and >sometimes
strength.

I only began reading any Goudge because of the mention of Henrietta's House
in Fire and Hemlock, and I actually got hold of two of her other books
first. The first I read was _Linnets and Valerians_, which I reread recently
when this thread arose here. I was entranced by it at first reading. Reading
more Goudges much too rapidly, I developed a substantial allergy, so it was
interesting on rereading L&V to find that it still has attraction for me.

At the next Goudge I read, _The Little White Horse_, I was a bit put off to
find a number of features that appeared in L&V. I was rather charmed at the
elder girl in L&V and her uncle loving each other at the first sight, but I
really don't think that's the sort of thing one should do more than once in
a lifetime. I have yet to reread Horse, but I think I would find it somewhat
repellant again.

There isn't a copy of _Henrietta's House_ around here for me to reread, and
the scarce used copies are listed for Vast Sums! When I read it some years
again, I think I was principally struck by what I thought of as Railway
Children Effect. Goudge really doesn't like the Active Boy who is so
important in a lot of children's fiction, does she? And she seems to be much
enamoured of the responsible, somewhat repressed Older Sister. Going by L&V
and HH, she finds the Active Boy a tiresome, greedy, somewhat stupid noodge.
(This is rather like the E. Nesbit of Railway Children. It's also like the
E. Nesbit of the Bastable books, though her presentation there is less
flat-footedly straightforward since she chose to have the Active Boy
narrate.)

I associate Goudge's fondness for the Good Older Sister with what someone
said earlier about Goudge promoting the Female Virtues popular at her
period. I'm sorry for forgetting who you are, but is this the sort of thing
you meant?

(I then read _Castle on the Hill_(?) -- all about virtuous women and the
occasional man suffering, and the stupidity of males who aren't suffering.
This reminded me somewhat of _Elizabeth and Her German Garden_ and made me
feel all shuddery. And then, still much too fast, I read something or other
about actors and tried to start _Green Dolphin Street_ or _The Dean's Watch_
and failed to stand it, which isn't a common occurence.)

I'm still not sure what I make of Goudge altogether, really. The notion of
some of her work being gold and much of the rest at least less valuable
makes sense to me, offhand. I should say, though, that I relish all the
Burnett I've read, which is a fair amount. I fancy sincere unction. :D  (I
didn't feel the need to keep *all* my volumes of Elsie Dinsmore, though.
Just the very best ones, like the one she's resurrected from her deathbed
in.)

Anita also reveals that

>Henrietta's House and The Little White Horse are fairy tales or >fables.
The other stories about Henrietta have a certain charm >of their own.

Please tell what the other Henrietta books are like! I picture them as being
a bit like the second half of Richardson's _Pamela_. :D

Mary Ann

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