There's a good one just off Kensington High Street, a fine one in Hampstead, and a fabulous one near my mother's house in Dublin, which, after dark has, just as it should, a light shining from a single window high in the tower wall. Sometimes the yearning is so strong that I gaze up at these houses wondering if it would be possible to knock on the front door and ask if I could climb the spiral stair and look at the tower room, just to see if it has floors and walls in silvery oak and stone, and a vaulted ceiling carved with stars and a sickle moon. I'm quite reasonable about it — obviously I don't expect to find an arched door too small for a grownup, a miniature grate with a fire of pine cones, a white sheepskin rug, a four-poster bed with blue silk curtains embroidered with silver stars and a blue wooden box with sugar biscuits — but I do wonder whether, if I did knock, the owner would instantly identify a fellow reader of Elizabeth Goudge's book The Little White Horse, and the room where the orphaned Maria finds sanctuary, "as chickens scurry for shelter under their mother's wings … safe for evermore". I was given the lovely Puffin edition when I was eight, but imagined myself just as grown up as year-old Maria, "considered plain, with her queer silvery-grey eyes that were so disconcertingly penetrating, her straight reddish hair and thin pale face with its distressing freckles". It was clear to me then, when I read and re-read it as an escape from the pains of flu, exams or being brutally misunderstood by the world, until the book disintegrated, that Maria — plain and vain, but also good, sensible, practical and brave — was the hero, as she returns to Moonacre, the home of her ancestors, and resolves the conflicts that are tearing apart the perfect little world. I was surprised when, more or less grown up, I found an excellent hardback copy — blue cover, silver lettering — in a junk shop, and realised that it was not about Maria, needlework, curiously leonine dogs or even ponies, but a rare subject in a children's book, or indeed in any literature: middle-aged love.
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Maria Merryweather, a thirteen-year-old is heading from London into the country, to Moonacre Manor where she is to live with her cousin, Sir Benjamin Merryweather, as she has lost her father, while her mother had died when she was younger. Maria is sceptical of going to the country which she feels will be dull after life in London, and the way there has not been very promising.
But as soon as they be. But as soon as they begin to approach Moonacre Manor, it begins to work its magic on her and when they arrive and she meets Sir Benjamin and they are shown their rooms, she knows she is home. So begins her life at Moonacre where there is much that is mysterious and magical, mostly in a good way little sugary biscuits placed in her room, her clothes being laid out for her everyday when there seems to be no maid in the house.
To do this of course, she must also overcome her own shortcomings. Her descriptions too are beautiful. As usual I never remember to mark them when I read them but this for instance:. Never in all her short life had she seen such wonderful trees; giant beeches clad in silver armour, rugged oaks, splendid chestnuts, and delicate birches shimmering with light.
They had no leaves as yet but the buds were swelling, and there seemed a mist of pale colour among their branches—amethyst and chrome and rose and blue, all melting into each other like the colours of a rainbow that shines for a moment through the clouds and then changes its mind and goes away again. But it is difficult to draw up a list of Wiggins' virtues In fact impossible because he hadn't any Wiggins was greedy, conceited, bad-tempered, selfish and lazy.
But though Wiggins' moral character left much to be desired, it must not be thought of that he was a useless member of society, for a thing of beauty is a joy for ever, and Wiggins' beauty was of that high order that can only be described by that tremendous trumpet sounding word 'incomparable'. He was a pedigree King Charles Spaniel.
His coat was deep cream in colour, smooth and glossy everywhere except his chest where it broke into an exquisite cascade of soft curls like a gentleman's frilled shirt cuff I loved the characters too—I thought they were quite unique and likeable. But they are realistic too, some of them allowing their egos to get in the way and taking the wrong decisions, as human beings are apt to do.
And there are those that are a mix of the real and the fantastical, like Maria's friend Robin who she magically knows in London but meets once again at Moonacre , who might be real but has elements of Pan I initially thought Puck since he was called Robin but then realised from his playing the pipe and connection with animals that he was more Pan.
Wiggins might do nothing but he's still a sweet fellow. This was a lovely read—I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four and a half stars! Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem.
Return to Book Page. Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But there is something incredibly sad beneath all of this beauty and comfort, that shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it. Maria is determined to learn about it, change it, and give her own life story a happy ending.
The enchanted valley of Moonacre is shadowed by a tragedy that happened years ago, and the memory of the Moon Princess and the mysterious little white horse. Determined to restore peace and happiness to the whole of Moonacre Valley, Maria finds herself involved with an ancient feud, and she discovers it is her destiny to end it and right the wrongs of her ancestors. Maria usually gets her own way. But what can one solitary girl do?
A new-fashioned fantasy story that is as wonderful as the best classic fairy tales. The mini-series "Moonacre" and movie "The Secret of Moonacre" and the are both based on this book. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published December 31st by Puffin Books first published More Details Original Title. Carnegie Medal Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Little White Horse , please sign up.
Is this actually about a white horse or is it another falsely advertised book with a horse on it? Abby-Rose Margarida Sparrow Let me guess, you're still sore that "To kill a mockingbird" didn't have a word about killing mocking birds in it?
Just messing with you. Well the …more Let me guess, you're still sore that "To kill a mockingbird" didn't have a word about killing mocking birds in it? It has a great significance to the story, though, so it's a fitting title. This is a weird question but does this book have a lion in it? More particularly, a black lion?
I watched the move "The Secret of Moonacre" and seem to remember a black lion. Cassandra In the book there's a tawny lion which they tell people is a dog so they aren't scared. Definitely not a black lion the colour theme is very delibera …more In the book there's a tawny lion which they tell people is a dog so they aren't scared. Definitely not a black lion the colour theme is very deliberate but they did change a lot for the movie so it wouldn't surprise me.
There's a big black cat though. See all 11 questions about The Little White Horse…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4.
Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Little White Horse. There are some beautiful aspects of this story, especially the descriptions -- nature, food, clothing -- there's a richness to them that is very appealing. But the didactic elements! Man, I see why Goudge set the story in instead of a century later, when it was actually written.
Over and over, the emphasis on Maria having to learn to accept and embody feminine virtues and they are explicitly denoted as feminine There are some beautiful aspects of this story, especially the descriptions -- nature, food, clothing -- there's a richness to them that is very appealing.
Over and over, the emphasis on Maria having to learn to accept and embody feminine virtues and they are explicitly denoted as feminine, repeatedly.
Be obedient. Don't ask questions. Sacrifice for others although, interesting, Maria never ends up having to sacrifice much, she pretty much gets her own way and leads a pretty princessy lifestyle. Don't be proud. Forgive everything.
Above all, don't quarrel. And the foil character of Maria's "blameworthy" ancestress who was too "proud" to forgive her husband for little offenses like, oh, pretending to be in love with her when he really was after her inheritance, and then probably killing her father and infant brother to secure them.
And in real life view spoiler [ there is no way a man who had successfully battled through the feudal system to become a lord decided to just go live in a cave and not tell anyone, and if he did he was an asshole for abandoning his wife and daughter hide spoiler ]. She is definitely presented as more culpable than her husband, who was only really blamed for taking away property from monks. I felt like the women were always blamed more.
Except for the governess, because she was pious, modest, and obedient. Of course, that resulted in her losing the man she loved and becoming a servant so are you sure you want us to take this to its logical conclusion, Ms.
Of course, Miss Heliotrope was a poor clergyman's daughter to start with. Poor people should stay poor and be happy and not try to change their social status. I see here the same trope several other reviewers mentioned regarding Linnets and Valerians with commoner woman marrying a nobleman, Oh Horror!
Her descendants are the Bad Guys who do evil stuff like, um, reclaim their hereditary lands. Other than than their main crime seems to be poaching rabbits, which is pretty friggin' anticlimactic for the Dark Men who live in the Black Castle in the mysterious and frightening pine woods.
She is no Juliet, either, she is consistently described like a little girl throughout the book. I thought it was pretty creepy when her future husband's mother was putting her in her future wedding dress the first time they meet, but I had no expectation that she was getting married during this book. Gross hide spoiler ]. I'll take care not to reread anything else of this author's.
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge: a fairytale of middle-aged love
The Little White Horse
Her new guardian, her uncle Sir Benjamin, is kind and funny; the Manor itself feels like home right away; and every person and animal she meets is like an old friend. But there is something incredibly sad beneath all of this beauty and comfort—a tragedy that happened years ago, shadowing Moonacre Manor and the town around it—and Maria is determined to learn about it, change it, and give her own life story a happy ending. But what can one solitary girl do? Elizabeth Goudge was born in in Somerset, England.
So let me begin by saying what did NOT work for me—namely, a few of the Christian themes that are integral to the structure of The Little White Horse , plus a couple of other philosophical ideas that underpin the book:. Instead, Goudge reveals them to us one at a time, drawing us deeper into the mystery that surrounds Moonacre Manor. All this I lapped up without batting an eyelash. Goudge is simply superb at creating a highly atmospheric setting—one can feel the hint of sinisterness lurking beneath the unabashed joy of the Moonacre Valley and the Silverydew village. This is true for all of her food scenes as well!