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.

Smoky-House by Elizabeth Goudge

Smoky-House by Elizabeth Goudge was first published in 1940 but my copy is a 2020 reprint by Girls Gone By Publishers. This book involves smuggling along the Devon coast in the early 19th century and it has elements of a fairy tale/fantasy.

The tale begins in the village of Faraway where the five Treguddick children live with their father in Smoky-House, an old tavern. Father is the landlord. Faraway is apparently the happiest of places, it’s in England’s West Country which is a part of the world so beautiful that the people who live in it are always happy. The Treguddick’s mother is dead, but as they feel so close to heaven even that isn’t so sad as she feels close to them. However, aged 17, Jessamine the eldest girl has taken over the motherly duties.

When a stranger arrives at the tavern he brings with him an oppressive atmosphere and has a strange twist to his lips. The dogs bark at him, but the stranger is a wonderful fiddler and everyone loves his music. But still those dogs aren’t happy!

There’s smuggling involved which is a popular theme I think, but the most enjoyable part of this book is the animal characters who speak to each other and are much more sensible than the humans.

I was slightly perturbed by the ending which I think is in some ways quite a dangerous idea for children to read because the author seemed to be implying that if you are kind to a nasty person then they will give up their evil ways – which is of course rarely if ever true. In that respect this tale is the opposite of a traditional fairy tale as most of them were designed to be a warning to children.

These Girls Gone By Publishers reprint paperbacks are really lovely editions with lots of additional information about the book’s publishing history as well as Elizabeth Goudge’s life.

New Books

I’ve had to resort to buying books online so here are my recent acquisitions.

Books Again

Escape from Loch Leven by Mollie Hunter is obviously about Mary, Queen of Scots. Loch Leven Castle, which is close to where I live is one of the several places she managed to escape from. This one is aimed at those aged over 11 – I come into the category!

Evelyn Finds Herself by Josephine Elder is a girls’ school book, one of the best of the genre apparently. I certainly enjoyed reading it recently, it’s unusual that it’s set in a fairly ordinary day school, rather than a posh boarding school.

Val Forest in the Fifth by Evelyn Smith is another school story, I have hope that this one will be good, the author taught at Glasgow High School until 1923.

The remaining three are all by Elizabeth Goudge.

Smoky House
The Valley of Song
Henrietta’s House

I’ve never read any of her books for young people so it’ll be interesting to see what they’re like anyway

The last book I bought for all of £1 and it was bought in an actual shop when the lockdown was lifted briefly last summer. I bought Every Woman’s Doctor Book just for the charm of the cover. It has no publication date on it but going by the woman’s hat and hair I think it must have been around the 1920s. It says in this book that women in labour should be lying on their side, that is obviously where I went wrong!

I think that bookshops will be opening again on April 26th, so not long now.

Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times

Despite still being in lockdown, or maybe because of it, the time is going so fast and already it’s time for another Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times which is hosted by Judith Reader in the Wilderness.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Top Bookshelf

When we moved house and I grabbed a spare bedroom as a room for some of my books I really thought that I would be able to have them all in alphabetical order but that hasn’t happened. I now realise that I only have some of my Rumer Godden books on these shelves, others are downstairs.

The Talisman Ringcover
The Scent of Water cover

Kingmaker Divided Souls cover

I think I’ve read most of the Georgette Heyer books, but I haven’t read The Talisman Ring yet. I might read that one next as I’ve just finished a Virago book. I have all of Heyer’s crime/mystery books, but they are all in a crime fiction bookcase elsewhere.

Kingmaker Divided Souls by Toby Clements was a gift from a friend who loved reading it, but didn’t want to hold on to it. It’s another Wars of the Roses book.

I totally forgot that I had this copy of The Scent of the Water by Elizabeth Goudge, another possibilty for my next read. I love the rather twee cover.

I’ve been using this meme to find forgotten books on my shelves, I used to keep unread books in piles on floors, but that got too untidy as inevitably they collapsed from time to time causing even more mess. But it did mean that I could see at a glance what was still in my TBR book queues. Have you read any of these books?

Edinburgh Botanics and books

On Thursday we had a family dinner date in Edinburgh so as it was a lovely bright day we decided to go early and have a walk through the Botanic Gardens. As you can see the crocuses were enjoying the sun.


Then it was on to the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll realise that Stockbridge is usually a dangerous destination for me, due to the secondhand bookshops in the vicinity. Mind you it was only about three weeks since we had been there so I did think (half hope) it might be a case of slim pickings book wise, but I was wrong!

Books Again

China Court by Rumer Godden
The Princess Sophia by E.F. Benson
The Three Hostages by John Buchan
The Hand of Ethelberta by Thomas Hardy
Harding’s Luck by E. Nesbit
The Herb of Grace by Elizabeth Goudge

I know I read China Court way back in the 1970s but I’ll read it again and I seem to be collecting the Goddens that I read when I was a teenager but then I borrowed them from the library.

I have a horrible feeling that I gave my Nesbit books away before we moved house, when I was trying to de-clutter. But they might still be in a box in the garage, I live in hope, I definitely haven’t read Harding’s Luck anyway. The House of Arden comes before it so I think I’ll have to read that one first, I might just put that one on my Kindle.

I don’t think I’ve read anything by Goudge before but I know she is well loved by some people.

The Princess Sophia was written in 1900, long before Benson wrote his Mapp and Lucia books that I love.

I seem to be collecting John Buchan books although it’s a good long time since I actually read any.

I read a lot of Thomas Hardy books as a teenager and I loved them although they are often quite grim, especially the endings. The Hand of Ethelberta is apparently a comedy in chapters – could be interesting, but then again, might not be. Anyway it’s one of those wee books with thin paper and gold topped pages, like most of my other Hardy books, so it’ll fit in well – after I’ve had a bit of a shuffle around of that bookcase!

Have you read any of these books?