After Hitler, Churchill, D-Day, Band of Brothers, Pearl Harbor, staggering holocaust memoirs — heaviness and grief — it was time for a change. My son is hacking, coughing, aching … and just needs to rest. I’m on the edge [insert well-placed sniffle, cough-cough] and want to land on the healthy side of the equation. This is the one day this week I am not obligated to go anywhere. Melting snow, crackling fire, a pot of tea…what to read?
My friend Lynne suggested Elizabeth Goudge. I haven’t yet read The Herb of Grace, purchased at Oxfam (charity shop) last year in England for £1. It is such a treat, such a balm, such a comfort. I’m too impatient to wait until I’m done with the book to write a full review. One must share quotes. I found the attitude to telephones fascinating in light of our recent pop culture technology discussions.
All the water-sounds are unforgettable, he said gently. The best sound of all, I think, is the sound of ripples slapping against the hull of a boat.
And the smell of Damerosehay was just the same: the mingled scent of wood smoke, flowers, furniture polish, dogs and oil lamps.
She [Grandmother] had always been beautiful, was beautiful now, and had every intention of remaining beautiful until the end of her days, and she did not in the least begrudge either the spending of a great deal of time and trouble upon the outer facade of beauty, or the curtailing of her activities by the elimination of those which she could no longer accomplish with grace. It seemed to her children and grandchildren that she did not mind growing old. There was nothing of desperation in the firm hold she kept upon her beauty, it was rather that she appeared to be taking good care of something entrusted to her care, but did not seem to regard it as an integral part of her. [Don’t you know an older lady, always put together like this?]
Lucilla knew always, and Nadine knew in her more domesticated moments, that it was home-making that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that men erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil. But women made the bricks, and the durableness of each civilisation depended upon their quality; and it was no good weakening oneself for the brick-making by thinking too much about the flood.
Her feeling for her mother-in-law swung always between reverence and exasperation, according as the selflessness of Grandmother’s autocracy, or the autocracy of her selflessness, was uppermost.
Her [Grandmother’s] voice was full of distress. She hated these modern inventions, telephone and wireless; they did nothing but make a noise and pour out information one was generally better without.
Lady Eliot is afraid you will not be willing to live in London? ~ I’ll be perfectly willing, Madam. I did tell Lady Eliot, when she asked me, that I liked the country best; but of course wherever the children are I will make myself contented. [Jill interviewing for Nannie position, emphasis mine.]
This book was published in 1948. It’s gentle, unsentimental narrative seems appropriate post-WWII literature. Elizabeth Goudge. A light but nourishing read. [Don’t get confused: Eileen Goudge, Elizabeth’s niece, writes romance novels. I know nothing about their quality.]