Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of my favorite book bloggers, Cornflower of Cornflower Books, read Linnets and Valerians (rechristened "The Runaways") recently, and I vaguely remembered it from days of yore at the Alvin Bolster Ricker Memorial Library and Community House, so I got a copy through interlibrary loan and had at it. As I read, it came back to me--Goudge's great descriptions, her occasional sharp, witty comments, Uncle Absolom, complete with Hector the owl, Ezra the manservant, and the haunting combination of magic, religious faith, classicism, and adventure that make this book unique.
I'm glad I read it while I was young first, because that familiarity smoothed over some spots that could've been irritating for an adult reader: there's a touch of smug cuteness in the story as well as some marked gender stereotyping that makes me twitch a bit now, but I do appreciate Goudge's satisfying story-telling and the book's energy and vision, as well as its complex diction and structure, a rare element in many ya novels of the present. I recommend this book to imaginative young readers and their book suppliers, but I do add a caution: I think Linnets and Valerians helped create my lasting Anglophilia!
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