Henrietta’s House by Elizabeth Goudge

 Henrietta's House cover

Henrietta’s House by Elizabeth Goudge is another reprint from Girls Gone By Publishers. I enjoyed this one more than her book Smoky-House which I read fairly recently. The book was originally published in 1942 and it’s a sort of fantasy. At the beginning of the book the ten year old Henrietta is excitedly waiting at a railway station for the arrival of a train carrying her adopted brother Hugh Anthony. He’s a bit of a handful, older than Henrietta and has been sent to boarding school in an attempt to make him more civilised. The setting is Torminster, a cathedral city which was apparently based on Wells.

Most of the tale takes place over one afternoon. It’s Hugh Anthony’s birthday and he’s having a birthday picnic with some relatives and adult friends. The setting is the forest and the various guests are making their way there in separate vehicles, mainly horse drawn carriages – a victoria, a landau, a governess cart and one car which has shocked the country folk and would terrify the horses. They split up and everyone gets lost on the way to the forest, some even ending up underground. During the journeys the characters of them all are improved as they realise what the important things in life really are. This book was just a bit too churchy for my liking, I suspect that that will be the same with all Goudge’s books, but it definitely has its charming moments.

For me this one was very much of its time with heavy emphasis on the food being prepared for the picnic. Well if food is strictly rationed as it was in the UK during World War 2 and right into the 1950s, people fantasised about what they couldn’t have, and feasts featured heavily in books of that era, especially children’s books such as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series.

4 thoughts on “Henrietta’s House by Elizabeth Goudge

  1. I have read many of Goudge’s books and enjoyed them for the most part, but I haven’t read any that were written for children. I appreciate your pointing out the circumstances of the times especially regarding food. I had never considered that when reading the Narnia books, but now it makes more sense that they talked so much about the food and what they looked forward to eating. I was a little disappointed when I first tasted what was supposed to be Turkish Delight:)

    • Paula,
      You aren’t the first person who said they were disappointed by Turkish Delight! It doesn’t really seem like something you would sell your soul for, but I suppose if you haven’t had anything sweet like that for years then you might long for a taste of it!

  2. I’m with Paula re Turkish Delight! It was so clever of a New York friend to bring a box to a long ago discussion of TLTWTW. I think in my mind I imagined Turkish Delight to be more like a caramel, just as I imagined crumpets to be more – well, I don’t know but maybe I just need to eat a really good crumpet with butter to appreciate them.

    I don’t remember this Goudge but I read all her books long ago. I do like The Little White Horse the best.

    • Constance,
      Turkish Delight is still very popular here, especially at Christmas, but I’m with you about the crumpets, I’ve never liked them, no matter how well toasted they are, and with lashings of melted butter.

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