Elizabeth Goudge’s easy writing style brings a gentle flow to a story which has depth and meaning, leaving the reader surrounded in realisation. Thought provoking without being
hard work this is an ideal book for lazy summer days and holidays.
Set at the end of World War 2 in a beautiful Devon village, The Rosemary Tree is an exploration of everyday life inhabited by ordinary people who live it out and make it extraordinary.
From the very first chapter the peaceful setting and beautiful flow of the narrative draws you through the window and into family life in a country village. The people and surroundings seem immediately familiar and the reader becomes a member of the Wentworth family, enthralled and invested in their lives.
Elizabeth’s love of my home county Devon, where she once lived, was strangely comforting as the landscape unfolded in detail throughout the book. At one point I could have been standing on the little stone bridge crossing the river engaged in the conversation on the pages before me.
Along with her love of the British countryside there is, interwoven into all of her books, evidence of her love of God. His presence is revealed through the nature of her characters in such a gentle manner that it makes the book equally suitable for non-Christians and a great book to read and pass on. I was surprised to realise that Elizabeth first wrote this book in 1956, her grasp of human nature is much more in line with the way we think today and our openness to exploring the inner working of the mind and emotions. She was a wise woman who understood the human condition before the rest of the world caught up.
There is, within the pages an amazing insight into the complexity of human nature and how we are intrinsically linked to one another that leaves the reader with a sense of realisation about what is really important in life.
As John and Daphne deal with life’s battles, mistakes, friends, loves and family, the heart of human weakness is exposed. I was touched by the parallels in my own life, not necessarily of events but the experience of emotions through joys and trials. Every marriage will recognise something in John and Daphne’s story. The honesty in the joys and frustrations of their married life made me smile, nod knowingly and consider my own relationship.
Friendships are created, reignited, repaired and pushed to the limit. Lives are disrupted and loyalties are brought into question as relationships are tested. The beauty of God’s creation and grace is seen through acts of kindness and love. There is real life on every page.
Through the eyes of a child; Elizabeth touches on our innate desire for something more, the ache of awareness that something is lost in the shadows of a busy and distracted life. In the main character John, we find the beauty of innocence that ignites a memory of the simplicity we crave and identifies the sickness of the human condition “beauty awakened such intolerable longing that people often shut their eyes to it…” (p284).
Elizabeth expertly explores the immeasurable strength of human nature which can see a life both filled with despair and at the same timeinexplicable hope.
Elizabeth makes an easy and light read, touching and thought-provoking without it ever feeling heavy. Where many a light read is forgotten in a moment, and anything with depth and meaning must be read slowly and considered, here we have a perfect balance of the two.
The book is like a stroll in the countryside where the beauty is so compelling that you want to keep walking and enjoying it, even when it takes a turn uphill. It will appeal to all because its characters are so ordinary and familiar. A page could be taken from the life of the reader and they would have a sense of recognition.
There is no dramatisation and no special effects, this is life as it really is; explored and laid bare. If your readers want simplicity that does not leave them empty for their summer reading then this book needs to be in their luggage. Elizabeth engages on a level the reader won’t notice until they are completely pulled into life in a little country village.
Tania Vaughan heads Let’s Talk About Ministries, encouraging and supporting women through Bible studies, teaching and mentoring. You can find out more about Tania and the ministry at www.taniavaughan.com
July 27th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine