Saturday, August 01, 2009

My Friend Elizabeth Goudge

This was nice to read:

...he was not old. Only sixtyish.

—Elizabeth Goudge, Pilgrim’s Inn

I was persuaded to read this book by Janet Cupo, who went so far as to supply me with a copy. I knew nothing about the author beyond a vague idea that I’d heard the name. But I’m already willing to recommend it on the basis of only the first hundred or so pages. On the surface it’s not my kind of book—it’s a woman’s book in many ways, dwelling in subtle detail on family relationships, for instance, and spending a lot of time describing houses and rooms, without any very dramatic action. But it’s extremely well written, and the people and places are very vivid, and most of all it shows a very deep spiritual insight.

The truth is I’m enjoying it more than Crime and Punishment, which was the last novel I read. I found Raskolnikov and his perpetual hostility and anxiety mostly tiresome, and was more than ready to see him off to Siberia. There were some moving scenes in Crime and Punishment, one or two of them unforgettable, but somehow Goudge is able to create more narrative tension out of psychological events than Dostoevsky does out of two ax murders.

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