The Scent of Water ★★★✫ 3 & 1/2
By Elizabeth Goudge, 1963
I’ve changed my reviewing method. This is a full star, ★, and this a half star, ✫
★★★★★ Not to miss, worth re-reading
★★★★ Books that surely have stayed with me.
★★★ Very enjoyable read, recommendable.
★★ Meh. Nothing remarkable.
The half star, ✫, would make it closer to the higher category, an in-between of sorts.
I first met Elizabeth Goudge through the curriculum book lists at Ambleside Online. Her book for children, The Little White Horse is pretty well known, and the girls and I enjoyed it. Her other books for adults (which can be read by young adults too), have become quite popular among circles of readers and friends around me. I read The Rosemary Tree, and it was OK. Not a wow title, but charming. I liked the way she portrays children, and I enjoyed her mentions of Don Quijote in regards to friendship, and as one of the favorite books of one of her characters.
When Kim suggested (or was I?), to read The Scent of Water, it felt as a good reading title.
I started reading it during Harvey, but I couldn’t focus much on reading, and the book starts a bit slow. It wasn’t that bad as to abandon it, so I persisted. And I’m glad I did. In time, Goudge immerses the reader in the happenings of a small country district where the protagonist goes to live. Mary Lindsay had her auntie’s name. She visited her auntie only once, when she was young (eight years old, I think.) Mary was mesmerized by a collection of small things her aunt had. Among it, there was a miniature carriage with Queen Mab, and a blue china set. Despite not knowing her other than for that short day, her aunt leaves her the place and a bit of inheritance. When Mary retires, she decides to leave London’s noise and buzz in favor of the countryside. There she’ll meet the vicar, his sister, and the locals. She’ll meet the family that lives back to back with her, and their three children, one of them, Edith, adopted. Through the people she’ll get to know the past, the secrets and afflictions they bear, and be a positive part of their future.
Elizabeth Goudge could be described as an inspirational writer. For the most part, I find these so called christian books contrived, and they do not ignite, not even spark my moral imagination at all. However, Goudge doesn’t write a book to convey a christian message, she has a story to tell, and her characters are well crafted. They are credible. The reflections and thoughts she gives the reader here and there, are not preachy, but they were my favorite parts. It was like listening to an old friend talking about the nature of love, loss, childhood, mental illness, marriage, etc.
My verdict: easy to read yet full of deep thoughts. Pick it up if you want to be transported to the countryside of England, and if you want to know about a few interesting people and how they navigate the storms of life.
This is a quote from the part when Mary is talking about Paul. A parishioner who became blind in the Great War.
The question shot out at her with a directness which she might have thought rude had she not already begun intuitively to understand this man. Suffering had had an effect with which she was familiar. The refusal of self-pity and despair had turned it from lead to fire, burning up the subterfuges and dishonesties below the surface of the inherited veneer of manners and thought that most men and women think are their true selves, and the veneer with them. He was forged now all of one piece, as he and the dog were of one piece, and spoke as he thought, rude or not. The blindness had helped perhaps. She imagined that if you were blind you must either live shut within yourself or seek with others a true and honest communication. Nothing else would be much use in the dark.