Friday, January 13, 2012

A little more book talk

As mentioned yesterday, I have begun re-reading The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge.  It is tied with A City of Bells as my favorite... at least until I re-read Pilgrim's Inn (which was my first Goudge and one always remembers their first love). 

I have other Goudge books on the shelf which have not been read and I look at as one would enjoy brightly wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree.  I wonder what they hold within.

Someone (I'm sorry I forgot whom) mentioned in comments about reading one of her children's books and how it seems so many wonderful books written for children that adults love are at least forty years old.

I do think Lewis said it best when he said (my paraphrase) that it is a great book one enjoys as a child and at age fifty.  One would call Henrietta's House a children's book but not I.   I am planning on ordering Goudge's I Saw Three Ships with credit (Stephanie read it to the kids and loved it) and I was given a copy of The Little White Horse, which sits on my To Read Soon stack.

I must admit that many "kid's" books are among my all time favorites.  For instance, The Wind in the Willows is magical (Narnia magic) at any age and so is... the Narnia books.  I first read A Wrinkle In Time as an adult and it added an entire new dimension (pun intended) of book love to my life.  I love the Time books!

But I also thoroughly enjoy the re-reading of my favorite books.  Which is why I am re-reading two right now (one I completely forgot about yesterday, how could that happen?).  There is something about re-reading favorites that is all warm and cozy, especially when one needs something comforting and familiar.

I say comforting with a book such as The Dean's Watch for with the larger books, when one re-reads we find something new all over again.  Then there are those times... especially in the midst of a hot summer when I need to read something quickly... that I love to re-read the lighter books. 

It is at times like that when I will slip one of the paperback cozy mysteries I enjoy (especially books like Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries) into a picnic bag along with something cold to drink and a snack.

Then there are those books I have read since my younger years and they seem to change with the years.  Of course, it is not the words on the books which have changed but the reader.

For instance, the other book I am re-reading is Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy, perhaps one of the most beautiful books ever written (in my very humble opinion).  I read it the first time not too long after the publication date and when I was still a young wife.  I thought it a wonderful book but dreadfully sad.

Now, as I read it in my grandmother years... I see mostly the beauty of the book and not as much the sadness.  It really is filled with Narnia magic as it includes the author's relationship with C. S. Lewis. 

I love to read other people's book lists where they write down their essential books for people to read... especially those coming from people whose Christian walk I respect.  It is not surprising A Severe Mercy continues to pop up on those lists.

I think the one book I have re-read the most since it first came out is Catherine Marshall's amazing book Christy.  While the short lived TV series was quite good, if you have not read the book then you are missing a great novel (based on the real life experiences of Catherine's mother).

When I first the novel, I was a teenager and about the same age as the young Christy.  In my imagination, I could see leaving all behind and going boldly into the mountains to teach!  Through the years I related more with others in the book and now just the thought of walking the mountains leaves me breathless.  ;)

I think of Christy when driving through the Eastern mountain ranges.   When I first read the book, my only experience with forests were the kind I live near as well as those my family drove through to reach Mom's relatives in Northern Kentucky.  They are thick with trees but not as described in Christy

Then hubby and I spent part of our honeymoon in the Smokey Mountains where Christy went to live (although staying in the city of Asheville, North Carolina) and have driven through them since and they are breathtakingly beautiful. 

But I really thought about the mountains Christy would have known when driving back from Virginia this September and viewing miles upon miles upon miles of forested mountain ranges... no wonder there were mountain people who had never seen towns! 

That's one of the wonders of literature, I feel as if I have lived in those mountains!  In my mind I have walked the cobblestone streets of English villages, felt the sub-zero cold of a Russian winter, melted in the Amazon heat, been cold and hungry in a Chinese prison just for being a Christian, and road canoes down the Wabash with French traders... sigh.

Have you ever given thought to the wonder of imagination and books?  I believe they are God's gifts to those of us who must live out our lives in finite bodies.  :)


Angela said...

It has been a pleasure to me to see my daughter enjoy the same books I (and my sister) loved as a young girl. Christy is one of those, as are the Little House and Anne books. Also: Mrs. Mike, They Loved to Laugh, Jane Eyre, many others I can't think of off the top of my head.

I think I'm one of the few people who doesn't like A Severe Mercy. Somehow their love for each other, which left little room for anyone else, struck me as selfish and left me cold. But I'm probably being too hard on him.

Scrappy quilter said...

I can't imagine life without books. I just finished reading The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden. A wonderful book. I have books everywhere in our home. Our family are readers. It's so good to see how others love books too. Hugs

Vee said...

I'm going to write a list of books I want to read based on the lists of books that others have read. I have never even heard of A Severe Mercy and now want very much to read it.

Am currently rereading Pilgrim's Inn because it is the only Goudge book I own and the first I read based mostly on your posts about how wonderful Goudge's books are. I have not been disappointed.

I did read The Little White Horse because I had heard that J.K. Rowling had been inspired by it. I've not read any of her books, but I was intrigued by what she might find inspiring. All I remember about the story is that it is a fairy tale about a unicorn in the forest and that it ends happily ever after. So I guess whatever messages it contained are lost on me.

Not so with the other Goudge books especially those where she shares her opinions about mental illness, homemaking, marriage, etc. The Scent of Water comes to mind and that's one that I would really like to own.

Heather L. said...

On my to do list is "order library books". Now I know some more books to order. We are limited now to 150 books for our family (because of the cost of plac cards) and I know that sounds like a lot, but it isn't when you order for several weeks of homeschooling plus one's own desires.......

Linda said...

I have several of her books on my shelf and haven't read them. I started some of them but never have finished one. I'm in a mystery reading mode right now but maybe when I finish those I'll try her again. Thanks.

Yolanda said...

I loved Christy very much growing up and the mountains of NC,Tn hold a specail place in my heart .So glad to have your blog.

Anonymous said...

These are sure books you read and reread all your life!! So many times I have thought of them and I know I have been influenced by them in many ways. On another sort of but not quite related subject... I went to as I had so many other times and she is not longer listed there. I know you mentioned this address yourself one time. This is the same address you had isn't it? I know it worked for me up until very recently. Have you had any news about this? I have not been signed up to be sent her e-mails for several years and was just going there for the newer/latest news about her life and ministry. Has she moved to another site? Hopefully the last several years of her letters were moved there too. I am so hoping she and her family are ok. She has become so much a part of our family over the years I am worried about them. Any news would be appreciated..that is if you know anything. Sorry if I have hijacked these comments... Sarah

Mrs.Rabe said...


Christy is one of my favorites! My children love the Christy series. I think I must reread it soon.

I've not read Goudge or Stevenson - though I want to this year. I love reading - it takes you places, touches your heart, teaches you many things.


Anonymous said...

Books provided me an escape as a child from some of the terrors of living with a mentally ill dad. I absolutely "crawled into them"...was part of what saved my sanity I think!! I do not have time to read novels at this part of my life, but one day perhaps will be able to get back to some good ones. I also read A Severe Mercy many years ago, lent the book to the pastor who NEVER gave it back...oh well, one can hope it was used to a good purpose. It was a most impactful book.
Happy reading!! Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

The following is a portion from a review off Amazon:

Elizabeth Goudge wrote some outstanding novels for adults and children.
Of these, one of her best is "The Little White Horse", a whimsical blending of Dickens, Grimm, Austen, Grahame, and others. Great food. Heroic animals. Often very funny. Also mysterious and haunting. Sentimental, and moral, but exactly right.

This sums up the story for me perfectly!
The author of this review was commenting on the movie called "The Secret of Moonacre", which unfortunately appears to have very little resemblance to the book. How sad that they can't seem to get it right. So often movies disappoint in this way! I won't even think of seeing a movie that I think has to potential to "mess up" the story of a book that I've loved (and the pictures I've created in my mind!)

Anonymous said...

I have The Little White Horse, but haven't yet read it. If you post when you start your copy, maybe I can read mine at the same time. :)

I recently reread A Severe Mercy also. It had been at least 10 years since my last reading, and picked up different things this time too. I don't think I enjoyed it quite as much this time, but I liked the CS Lewis parts even more.

One of my cousins just posted a link to a cobbled-together "trailer", but it looks like the next Narnia movie, The Magician's Nephew, comes out in May. I can't wait! I adore the books, but I've enjoyed most of the movie adaptations too.

-Connie in San Diego