"Christ Church, Oxford is the location of this tale of the Leigh family, set in the days of Queen Elizabeth I.In her notes about the origin of the book Elizabeth Goudge writes: "It is impossible to live in an old city and not ask oneself continually, what was it like in ages gone by? Who were the men, women and children who lived in my home centuries ago, and what were their thoughts and actions as they lived out their lives day by day in the place where I now live mine?" (Goodreads)
I picked up this book at the beginning of the year after hearing about it on YouTube.
I planned on reading it before our trip as I knew that it contained history of Oxford.
But I never got the chance to read it before we went. I took advantage of the read-a-thon week to spend a couple of days devouring it.
And I did devour it.
I LOVED this book.
"The first gray of dawn stole mysteriously into a dark world, so gradually that it did not seem as though day banished night, it seemed rather that night itself was slowly transfigured into something fresh and new.
So shall I be changed, whispered a dirty, ragged boy who lay on a pile of dried bracken, two books beneath his head for a pillow, within a gypsy tent, and he sat up and grinned broadly at the queer gray twilight that stood like a friend in the narrow doorway." (first paragraph of the book)
This is the first book I have ever read by Elizabeth Goudge and I am now going to search my library for anything and everything by her. She writes beautifully and weaves the history of Oxford into the life of one particular family and those that surround them so well.
I love the characters although I feel like Oxford is the main character... if that makes sense.
We basically get a look through a window to the past of Oxford and how it came to be, how those who lived there in the 1500's lived, and how they interacted.
She also includes real life figures into the story such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Philip Sidney, and Queen Elizabeth the first.
There were times in this book when I had to re-read a sentence because I loved it so much... like when she was describing the ugly cuteness of one of the characters:
" The Creator, when He thought good to take Faithful out of eternity and cast him upon the earth, had taken him out of the same box as the baby donkeys and the penguins..."
While this book was the longest of the read-a-thon I loved every minute of it and almost wished it was longer.
I think my love of Oxford also helped to nurture my feelings for the book as it was set at Christ Church which was one of the places we explored. As it talked about the history there and about the buildings I could picture it and knew exactly what she was talking about. I loved that. I also loved learning things about Oxford that I didn't know before reading it.
I really can't say enough about this book.
I loved it.
"It is the dreams that are died for that live."
I highly recommend this book to anyone.