This one’s going to take me a little while to find words for. I don’t know how to write about it, and I don’t know how not to. I was fifty or sixty pages in when I turned to Scott and said—I felt breathless—I think I found my favorite book. I knew I would probably enjoy it; I love Elizabeth Goudge’s writing; I’ve loved Linnets and Valerians more each time I’ve read it. But The Scent of Water went even deeper, burrowed right into the center of me. I kept thinking, I didn’t know, I didn’t know.
For now, while I’m sorting out why, I’ll let Elizabeth do the talking. Never in my life have I marked so many passages in a single novel.
“…a silver tankard of lilies-of-the-valley stood on an oak chest. The flowers and the polished silver gathered all the light to themselves…”
That one comes early, and I marked it not knowing how important the objects, and the gathering of the light, were going to be—in that first encounter, it was the sheer beauty of the image that made me gasp. I started the book a few weeks ago and then set it aside, and all through those days this line kept repeating itself in my mind. The flowers gathered all the light to themselves. What a poet she is.
The piercing clear deep ringing and ringing seemed thrusting through her almost intolerably. She believed she had not heard such birdsong since she was a child; yet every year they had been singing like this in the tall woods of England…
The poets did at least put it into words for you and ease the pain of it.
I have at least thirty more quotes marked but the evening has run away with me—as usual! I can’t possibly type them all out, anyway. I need to read it again. Soon. The night I finished it, I dove right into Linnets and Valerians to ease the pain of parting, and now I’m onto The Bird in the Tree. I have nearly her whole body of work ahead of me. Such riches!
From the Archives: A Child’s Delight
Why Do Writers Write? (And What Should a Reader Read?)
Graffiti for Butterflies
Books That Caught My Eye at SDCC, Part 2