Friday, March 8, 2019

The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge

There are two kinds of romantic love. One is the passionate emotion that leads you to say, "I do." The other is the unemotional choice that enables you to keep your promise even when the feelings come and go. In The Bird in the Tree, Elizabeth Goudge explores both types.

Nadine and David are deeply in love. Their passion for each other is the "truest" thing they know. But Lucilla, the matriarch of the family, isn't so sure that their marriage is a good idea. And she does her best to persuade then that there might be something truer.

As part of my resolution to read more deeply, I'm reading only physical books for the first few months of 2019. I've already seen a difference in my attention span! And also an increase in my overall enjoyment. The Bird in the Tree by Goudge was splendid in every way: good writing, non-simplistic answers to life's problems, and believable characters (even the dogs are wonderfully "real").

Some delectable quotes:

In times of storm and tempest, of indecision and desolation, a book already known and loved makes better reading than something new and untried. The meeting with remembered and well-loved passages is like the continual greetings of old friends; nothing is so warming and companionable. (p. 266)

It was that declaration of Nadine's, that she wanted "to live her own life," that had exasperated Lucilla beyond anything else in the whole wretched business. It was a remark frequently on the lips of the modern generation, and it annoyed her. For whose lives, in the name of heaven, could they live except their own? Everyone must look after something in this world and why were they living their own lives if they looked after antique furniture, petrol pumps or parrots, and not when they looked after husbands, children or aged parents? (p. 83)

If you are familiar with Goudge, I don't need to extol her gifts, but if you aren't yet familiar with her novels, I suggest this trilogy (Bird in the Tree is Book One) or the stand-alone The Dean's Watch.


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