Friday, June 25, 2010

The Joy of Snow by Elizabeth Goudge

Please do not read The Joy of the Snow unless you are already a huge fan of Elizabeth Goudge. If you do, you may be tempted to dismiss her as "strange" and never open one of her marvelous books. There isn't much I can say about this book that hasn't already been said by Janet at Across the Page. I, too, struggled to like this book because Goudge is honest about her beliefs and eccentricities to a fault. When fans wrote her and asked if she put herself in her books, she replied that quite the opposite was true. "After writing for years I noticed the regular appearance of a tall, graceful woman, well-balanced, intelligent, calm, capable and tactful. She is never flustered, forgetful, frightened, irritable or nervous... She is all I long to be and never will be. She is in complete reverse a portrait of myself."(p. 34) Goudge is this self-deprecating throughout her entire autobiography.

My least favorite Goudge book is Middle Window. But after reading Joy of Snow, I at least understand what compelled her to write it: her strong belief that love is stronger than death. This theme is too sentimental for a common sense girl like me, but time and life experience may change my opinion.

Though I had to come to grips with the fact that Goudge and I don’t share the same theological views, I still believe she’s one of the best fiction writers out there. Her characters grapple with real issues and don’t always come up with neat and tidy solutions. YET, they often recognize their need to make tough decisions based on their growing understanding of who God is. Interestingly, Goudge insists that she always set out to write a good story rather than a religious one and that faith-related themes came into the books quite unconsciously.

A sampling of some of the lovely quotes:

God draws us to Himself with tenderness and then says the most uncomfortable things to us. (p. 245)

I believe that death interrupts nothing of importance if the goal is Christ. (p. 247)

Truly great men and women are never terrifying. Their humility puts you at your ease. If a very important person frightens you he is not great; he only thinks he is. (p. 212)


Janet said...

You do such a great job of capturing your mixed feelings. I feel much the same way -- though I don't share her theology, I think she's a fine fiction writer.

I loved that excerpt about the tall and graceful woman who appears in her books too!

Dana in Georgia said...

Nice review.... I have never read Goudge, but think I am ready.

Which would you recommend as a first?

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I'm a huge Goudge fan but I, too, did not like The Middle Window. It was way too strange and I thought on the verge of encouraging reincarnation.

I'll make certain this is not on my reading list if it is similar.

I have noticed that as she grew older, it seems her theology grew more conservative (at least just from the books I have read so far).